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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Art and Politics
By Carl Michael Bellman (1740–1795)
 
“GOOD servant Mollberg, what’s happened to thee,
Whom without coat and hatless I see?
Bloody thy mouth—and thou’rt lacking a tooth!
Where have you been, brother?—tell me the truth.”
        “At Rostock, good sir,        5
        Did the trouble occur.
        Over me and my harp
        An argument sharp
Arose, touching my playing—pling plingeli plang;
And a bow-legged cobbler coming along        10
Struck me in the mouth—pling plingeli plang.
 
“I sat there and played—no carouse could one see—
The Polish Queen’s Polka—G-major the key:
The best kind of people were gathered around,
And each drank his schoppen ‘down to the ground.’        15
        I don’t know just how
        Began freshly the row,
        But some one from my head
        Knocked my hat, and thus said:
‘What is Poland to thee?’—Pling plingeli plang—        20
‘Play us no polka!’ Another one sang:
‘Now silent be!’—Pling plingeli plang.
 
“Hear, my Mæcenas, what still came to pass.
As I sat there in quiet, enjoying my glass,
On Poland’s condition the silence I broke:        25
‘Know ye, good people,’ aloud thus I spoke,
        ‘That all monarchs I
        On this earth do defy
        My harp to prevent
        From giving song vent        30
Throughout all this land—pling plingeli plang!
Did only a single string to it hang,
I’d play a polka—pling plingeli plang!’
 
“There sat in the corner a sergeant old,
Two notaries and a dragoon bold,        35
Who cried ‘Down with him! The cobbler is right!
Poland earns the meeds of her evil might!’
        From behind the stove came
        An old squint-eyed dame,
        And flung at the harp        40
        Glass broken and sharp;
But the cobbler—pling plingeli plang—
Made a terrible hole in my neck—that long!
There hast thou the story—pling plingeli plang.
 
“O righteous world! Now I ask of thee        45
If I suffered not wrongly?” “Why, certainly!”
“Was I not innocent?” “Bless you, most sure!”
“The harp rent asunder, my nose torn and sore,
        ’Twas hard treatment, I trow!
        Now no better I know        50
        Than to go through the land
        With my harp in my hand,
Play for Bacchus and Venus—kling klang—
With masters best that e’er played or sang;
Attend me, Apollo!—pling plingeli plang.”        55
 
 
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