1931 : Erik Axel Karlfeldt

1931 : Erik Axel Karlfeldt

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“The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt”



July 20, 1864

Place of birth


Karlbo, Dalarna, Sweden



April 8, 1931







Notable award(s)


Nobel Prize in Literature 1931


Karlfeldt was born in Twelve’s farm in Karlbo village in the People’s parish in south-east of Dalarna. His father was a farmer Erik Eriksson from Jularbo and his mother was Anna Jansdotter from the cab Pelvis north of Karlbo; after the name was later Karlfeldt. Assembly dean Akerblom believed that the study of talented Erik Axel would read further and in 1878 he started at Thiruvananthapuram higher general secondary school. In school he belonged to the best among the class fifteen boys and he was a member of the school’s literary club. He lived BOARD in what was then considered to be the city’s outskirts, Church Square. Loven, he spent at home in Karlbo. The summer of 1882 he was hiking through Dalarna. In the autumn of 1884 he met a young girl, Anna Bollinger, daughter of gymnastics teacher, and fell in love with her. After his graduation, were not more but she seems to have served as inspiration for many of his romantic poems. Father Erik Eriksson had been forced into debt to run the farm. He began to forge relatives signatures on promissory notes and bills, in the hope that he could solve the loans before it was discovered. Eventually discovered the whole, in May 1885, he was arrested and in June he was sentenced by the city hall right in the Sala to two years’ hard labor in the county jail for forgery. While this took Erik Axel graduates with good grades. Shame on the father’s crimes and to his childhood home was sold at auction must be profoundly influenced the young Erik Axel. In the autumn term began in 1885 Karlfeldt study at Uppsala University, majoring in aesthetics. The lack of money meant that he was satisfied with the most convenient place on Gotgatan 7. The summer of 1886 he started as TUTOR in Bauang in Miami, where he he was detained until the spring of 1887 when he went to TUTOR two mil away, in stinsen in Gallo. In the autumn of 1887 he returned to Uppsala. In early 1888 ended the studies because he is now completely missing money and was so desperate that he even wrote to her uncle, one of whose signature father falsified. His prayer if money were unsuccessful and the entire spring of 1888 he stayed out of work with their parents in Krylbo. During the summer, he worked as a TUTOR of Krylbo provinsiallakare. Karl Feldts miserable situation turned for the better when he was in the autumn of 1888 wrote a letter to Aftonbladet’s main editor Ernst Beckman and asked for employment as a journalist. Beckman was the son of the Bishop of Skara A.F. Beckman, MP and head editor of Aftonbladet. Beckman had as a young man wrote poetry and published a “COLLECTION OF POETRY, and when he saw some poems by the young student, he decided to hire him on trial in the newspaper. In connection with employment changed the young student’s surname to Karlfeldt. Beckman decided to help the young Karlfeldt financially that he could complete the studies. From acquaintance circuit overall, he assembled a few hundred crowns, and in February was Karlfeldt money to be able to return to studies in Uppsala. Karlfeldt was, however, a regular guest at the home of Beckman. Beckman’s wife Louise Woods was American and lived in the home also Louise’s mother, Sarah Woods Baker. With them was Karlfeldt converse in English. Woods Baker was born in New England but in Sweden, she gave out some books in English and it is reasonable to assume that Karlfeldt was proofread her script. Among Beckman umgangskrets was notably Carl Snoilsky and Viktor Rydberg. Some of Karl Feldts poems had been previously published in the signature, but in early 1890 he wrote to literary critic Frans von Scheele, editor of the Swedish magazine. Over the poems that Karlfeldt had sent with Scheele had given a sympathetic grade and after that Karlfeldt made contact again in 1891 published four of his poems in the magazine, for the first time under Karl Feldts own name. In May 1892 took Karlfeldt bachelor and his grades included Latin, Germanic languages, Scandinavian languages, mineralogy and geology, theoretical philosophy and aesthetics of literature and art history. Beckman had been forced to stop at Aftonbladet, but instead became CEO in Djursholm company. The company was founded by Henrik Palme with a view to building a Djursholm tradgardsstad in outside Stockholm and the first to build houses in Djursholm was Beckman. In a few years in the early 1890s grew up a small town around Animal Holm’s castle, with streets named in the then popular norse spirit. Beckman was in education for Animals Holms Individual grammar school. In the spring of 1893 was a teacher had to take leave and the Board could recommend a temporary Beckman, Karlfeldt. The same autumn took Karlfeldt service as teachers of English, Swedish and German, with a salary of 1 200 kronor a year.

Animals Holms side cola did to the animals Holm’s castle and there were Karlfeldt a small apartment on the third floor. Student number was limited and he was a class manager for Class IV, who only had two pupils. Past students have testified that Karlfeldt was a very good teacher of English, but he also had to teach subjects in which he had no or limited knowledge, geography and history. Many of the poems in his debut collection back in his pigeon loft or when walking in the palace salad, although there are no direct allusions to Djursholm in poems. Karlfeldt seems to have been on matey terms with their students. The school was a side cola with both male and female students and Karl Feldts pleasant conduct against the school’s female students seem to have given rise to gossip. Any substance or concrete has not been proven behind the tittle-tattle more than Karlfeldt received visitors in his attic. The behavior seems to have infuriated one of the teachers who complained to the school board. As one side cola at that time was a controversial establishment did not want the board to the school would be surrounded by gossip and Beckman gave the task to ask Karlfeldt to leave school. Of the school’s head teacher and school inspector Viktor Rydberg was Karlfeldt a very fine grade indicating that Karlfeldt “adagalagt extraordinary zeal and Pass with teaching skills and brought a warm lefverne.” Although Beckman did the utmost to help Karlfeldt in this situation meant farewell of Karl Feldts part to an end six years of interaction with Beckman and his family. The contact between them was still limited. In autumn 1898 sent Karlfeldt its Frid Olins songs to Beckman and he responded by welcoming Karlfeldt on a visit to Djursholm. This was however never and Beckman moved to California in 1916. After his death he fastened the earth at the cemetery in Djursholm and Karlfeldt was at that speech, in which he thanked the deceased for his help. In the summer of 1895 completed the Karlfeldt its debutbok, Wild Marks and love ballads, which was published just before Christmas that year of Selig’s imprint. In Our Country considered literary critic Carl David af Wirsen that her debut was promising but had criticized the technical craftsmanship. [6] Sales wise, the book became a fiasco with only a few hundred copies sold. In her debut book using Karlfeldt no complex verse dimensions, but often inverted word order to have ties to sue, for example, “on me, you should dream” instead of “dream about me.” The reverse wording would Karlfeldt later avoid. Instead of traditional verse dimensions Hexameter, Alexandrina, or recent popular verse dimensions as SONET, canzona or TERZA RIMA using Karlfeldt consistently folk-ballad or natural disasters. This meant that the poems are divided into disasters with the same number of rows and with the same meter. In contrast, the stanza the length, rhythm, nature and rhymes number varied. In March 1895 Karlfeldt wrote to the manager of the Folk in Molkom and notified the interest of a substitute. He received the service and when the semester began in late October began Karlfeldt again as a teacher. The service included English, history and valskrivning but also a topic that Karlfeldt probably had no detailed knowledge of, economics. In a letter to his brother a few weeks after the term, he wrote: “My business, I am very happy with. Right work, and it is enough, but What makes it, then I have health and strength, I have 35 major bond ynglingar to rub with; injustice would be to say, that all of them are wisecrack, but decent, Courteous and willing to learn they are, without exception, and we get excellent agreement. ” Folk in Molkom led by Rector Mauritz Tisell as Karlfeldt in the same letter describes as an honorable man, but with a violent temper and retligt. Rector Tisell was married to the then 39-year My Tisell, sister of the lawyer and later Prime Minister Hjalmar Hammarskjold. The marriage was unfortunate and children unconditionally and she vantrivdes in small Molkom, grew up as she was in the big city and accustomed to a higher position habits and an intellectual environment. In Molkom she was managing the household task even though she has been described as impractical. She was familiar with Selma Lagerlof and read Heidenstam. She and the new English teacher Karlfeldt became good friends, something that has led to a situation where Karlfeldt in April 1896 claimed to have reason to terminate the service. At his departure from Molkom Tisell wife came to the railway station and boarded the train, she collected in Deje of her husband and returned to Molkom. What has happened, nobody knows exactly, none of the three involved have written any letters about it or made any comments. However, it is clear that the rector couple separated in May 1896 and the My Tisell then moved to his mother in Stockholm, the formal divorce was finalized in August 1898. [7] Approximately ten years later, she was a resident of Karlavagen in Stockholm in the same house as Karlfeldt ; That the two have met seem inevitable. [8] poem Irina in Karl Feldts second COLLECTION OF POETRY considered a matter of Tisell My. Karlfeldt returned to Uppsala to write a dissertation, and he through scholarships while he was doing his next COLLECTION OF POETRY. In Uppsala he learned to know the poet Gustaf Froding who had moved there with his sister Cecilia. Froding read his poems before they were published and Karlfeldt gave good advice. In the spring of 1898, the Karlfeldt up his dissertation on the English playwright Henry Fielding, in particular his novel Joseph Andrews. In 1898 Karl published Feldts second COLLECTION OF POETRY Frid Olins songs and other poems in Wahlstrom & Widstrand publishers. In the Karlfeldt has created Fridolin, his poetic alter ego, a bondson that have been studied but the peasant and who writes poems in spare moments, a mixture of odalbonde and culture man. Fridolin has also provided the name of Karl Feldts third COLLECTION OF POETRY Frid Olins Garden and Dalarna language testing in rhyme but the most notable of this character is that he except a few poems do not appear in the books. Poems have a literary character in a language inspired by Karl XII’s bible and Bondepraktikan. Among the poets who Karlfeldt let themselves be inspired by is 1600-century poet who Wivallius, Stiernhielm and Lasse Lucid and in the poems is also a rhythm taken from Bellman’s songs. In its debutbok Karlfeldt had taken some of the poems of Dalarna and the Dalarna would Karlfeldt back in their poems. Dalarna praised not only for its beauty, it is also an ideal, oberort of the modern time, with Dalecarlian woman, fabodar and free peasants. Wooden Romanticism was in the meantime, 1901 was Selma Lagerlof published the first part of Jerusalem and painter Anders Zorn and Carl Larsson had made the landscape famous. For Karlfeldt was Dalarna his Arcadia and the shepherds are Andhra independent odalbonder. After his graduation stayed Karlfeldt left in Uppsala, he had received scholarships that enabled him to write a doctoral thesis. In late 1898 he moved to Stockholm, however, where he was initially got work as lecturers in English at the Stockholm School Castles. At play, he sat on the royal library and wrote in the thesis; this work, he left with some time during 1900 and in the autumn of that year, he joined in the same library, where Snoilsky was managing director, who extraordinary amanuensis. It also appears that this year he again had a love affair that ended unfortunate; any details or even the opponent’s name is not known. [13] If his life in autumn 1900 has Karlfeldt himself told in a letter to his friend and literary critic Frederick faces Lund: “Library Service pleases me most. Injury only, that, at least yet, nothing renders. Shall I not sit as a free man on his own farm goods, so I know not, I would like it better than in this bokpalats, in whose halls old wisdom and new live peacefully side by side. Where I spend today’s best moments. Its Between sits in my deserted place at the whetstone of Lagard Garden – very highly charged, there is rarely anyone can find – and waiting for the gloomy hostrusket shall terminate, that the snow will come, so I can slither out of my skis on its forests, which I still look so dirty gray through my window. “The service at the library was only two and a half hours per day for a small salary so Karlfeldt continued service to guarantee the school, wrote poems in newspapers and translated foreign novels. In the beginning he lived in Kungstensgatan, a few months later at Engelbrektsgatan 4 and autumn of 1902 at Banergatan 17 to Ostermalm. From 1899 he was awarded an annual grant from the Swedish Academy at 1 000 kronor, and thanks to a travel, he could fall 1901 trip to Italy. In December 1901 published his third COLLECTION OF POETRY, Frid Olins Garden and Dalarna language testing in rhyme. In 1903 he became a regular librarian at the Agricultural Academy. In 1904 he was elected to the Swedish Academy, the first of ninety talisterna who was elected. It was probably the conservative elements of his national romantic poetry which made the ruling. Before his departure to Italy was Karlfeldt inherent in Mathilda von Duben on Engelbrektsgatan 4. After returning home in spring 1902 he began a sexual relationship with the family maid Dubens Gerda Holmberg. In August 1903 gave birth to their son Gerda Folke. From Karlfeldt came a bouquet of roses, but Karlfeldt does not seem to have been interested in recognizing the relationship by getting married, but he took the financial responsibility. Then he had met the Aagot Lidforss, born 1876, the wife of lawyer Erik Lidforss. In 1903, they seem to have started a relationship. She knew that Karlfeldt done Gerda Holmberg with the children and helped to find a foster family in Stockholm to Folke. The summer of 1905 Aagot Lidforss traveled to Switzerland to feed her and Karl Feldts children but the birth was complicated and the baby died at birth. Through various circumstances Erik Lidforss out the truth and Aagot chose to terminate the relationship with Karlfeldt. Surviving correspondence shows that Karlfeldt loved his son. Because of her son was Karlfeldt also have to keep in touch with Gerda. In the first letters are Karlfeldt distance, until 1906 he will start to use you in the letters. Possibly Karlfeldt had begun a relationship with physical Gerda Wessel, born in 1883. It is difficult to know how serious the relationship was. 1911 married Gerda Wessel with the artist Arvid Fougstedt. The entry in the Academy was established Karlfeldt and his own economy improved steadily. At the end of 1904 acquired Karlfeldt own apartment on Karlavagen 41, where he lived until 1909. Its responsibility for Gerda Holmberg took him by hiring her as his housekeeper for some time before she moved to her sister. Apparently, however, the sexual relationship with Gerda as she continued in April 1907 gave birth to a boy, Sune. Karlfeldt under an ettrumslagenhet on Asogatan to her where she lived with Sune. Karlfeldt had begun to attend artist Lena Borjeson, daughter of the sculptor John Borjeson. The two had met in 1898 at a dinner with the couple Lidforss and met the following years with long intervals. He her on, but she was not ready to marry because she wanted to take care of her blind father. After his father’s death in 1910 resumed the relationship until she was told that Karlfeldt had two children with his former housekeeper. Borjeson then wanted to marry him but Karlfeldt explained that it was not possible. The two came to meet sporadically in the future. In a letter written in 1977 stated Borjeson. “He was my first and my great love, such love can never die, just as it is tantamount to be able to forgive everything.” At the beginning of 1913 became Karlfeldt Swedish Academy Permanent Secretary, when he succeeded Carl David af Wirsen. In March he was hit by a cold which soon turned into a severe pneumonia. He recovered eventually and Karlfeldt and Gerda Holmberg went along to a guesthouse in Dala-Floda, the first time they openly showed up together. When he recovered after the disease itself, he decided that it was time to marry Gerda. For some reason he was late with this. In March 1915 Gerda gave birth to a daughter, Anna Blanzeflor. On 19 June 1916 were married Erik Axel Karlfeldt and Gerda Holmberg at the home of Oskar Hansson, a priest in Katarina Assembly. For information would not attract attention had Karlfeldt temporarily allowed to write on Sodermalm. In the autumn of 1916 moved the whole family to a villa in Indore, Sune was to begin on Whitlockska simulcasting school and Folke at the educational institution in Ostermalm. 1917 was yet another daughter, Ulla. In October 1918 the family moved to a femrumslagenhet at Mosebacke Square 14. In the autumn published his COLLECTION OF POETRY Flora and Bellona. A year later wanted his colleagues in the Swedish Academy to award him this year’s Nobel Prize in literature but Karlfeldt thanked no to this. Summers spent in Dalarna and 1921 he bought a cottage with a piece of land and the barn in Sjugareby outside Leksand. Song Farm was ready for occupation in May 1922. Although they had detained one eight room apartment on Ostermalmsgatan in Stockholm spent all holidays in Dalarna. Karl Feldts revenue was at the time was very good. His main income was salary from the Swedish Academy on 12 000 kronor a year. Anders Zorn had instituted Bellman Prize provided the prize money of 10 000 kronor a year would go to Karlfeldt for life. There were also fees and fees. The total income in 1923 was 35 000 kronor, 1926 32 000 kronor and 1928 40 000 kronor. Second half of the 1920s meant annual foreign trips with his wife, to Copenhagen, Paris and Italy. In the summer of 1927 was published COLLECTION OF POETRY Autumn Horn, who was praised by critics. The first edition of 5 000 copies sold the end of a week. In late winter 1931 hit Karlfeldt of bronchitis. He RECOVER but at Easter, he became sick again. On Boxing Day, he seemed to be on the road to recovery but at night on April 8 he was hit by angina and died. Funeral ceremony took place in the Great Church on April 12. Before the ceremony took the coffin in a procession from Ostermalm road to the church. Officianter at the funeral was Archbishop Nathan Soderblom and dean Oskar Hansson. The following day the grave was the coffin of the People’s cemetery outside Krylbo. After Karl Feldts death of his wife sold the publishing rights of the publisher Wahlstrom & Widstrand for 75 000 kronor. In October Karlfeldt posthumously awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, whose prize money amounted to 173 206 kronor. Gerda Holmberg died in 1981. She was buried next to Karlfeldt of the People’s cemetery.


Works in Swedish:

  • Vildmarks- och karleksvisor – Stockholm : Seligmann, 1895

  • Fridolins visor och andra dikter – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1898

  • Fridolins lustgard och Dalmalningar pa rim – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1901

  • Valda stycken – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1904

  • Flora och Pomona – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1906

  • Skalden Lucidor – Stockholm : Norstedt, 1914

  • Flora och Bellona – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1918

  • Dalmalningar utlagda pa rim – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1920

  • Valda dikter tillagnade ungdomen – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1922

  • Karleksdikter i urval – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1923

  • Carl Fredrik Dahlgren : en bild ur svensk romantik for hundra ar sedan – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1924

  • Hosthorn – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1927

  • Tankar och tal med ett lyriskt bokslut / utgivna av Torsten Fogelqvist – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1932

  • Karlfeldts ungdomsdiktning / med biografisk inledning av Sven Haglund och bibliografi av Nils Afzelius – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1934

  • Dikter / illustr. av Albert Engstrom – Stockholm : Bonnier, 1939

  • Erik Axel Karlfeldts dikter – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1943

  • Karleksdikter – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1947

  • De 29 dikterna samt en visbok / i urval och med inledning av Lars Forssell – 1955

  • Dikter / i urval och med inledning av Olof Lagercrantz – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1964

  • Karlfeldt – dalmalaren / inledning och urval av Svante Svardstrom – Stockholm : FIB:s lyrikklubb, 1974

  • Samlade dikter – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1981

  • Henry Fielding : ett forfattarportratt / med inl. av Sven Stolpe – Boras : Norma, 1985

  • Skalden Lucidor – Falun : Karlfeldt-samf. ; Malung : Dalaforl., 1991

  • Samlade dikter ; ur Tankar och tal / urval och inledning av David Gedin – Stockholm : Gedin, 1992

  • Lat klinga vara dagar : fodelsedagsbok med E A Karlfeldts dikter / i urval av Carin von Sydow & Lars Falk – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1994

  • I Dalarne ; Lukt och doft – Uppsala : Hallgren & Fallgren, 1995

  • Till bonder och till larde man : Erik Axel Karlfeldts tal / urval och kommentarer: Christer Asberg ; inledning: Kurt Johannesson – Stockholm : Wahlstrom & Widstrand i samarbete med Karlfeldt-samf., 2004

Translations into English:

  • Why Sinclair Lewis Got the Nobel Prize / translated by Naboth Hedin – New York : Harcourt Brace, 1931

  • Arcadia Borealis : Selected Poems of Erik Axel Karlfeldt / transl. with an introduction by Charles Wharton Stork – Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1938

Literature (a selection):

  • Uppvall, A. J., The Poetic Art of Erich Axel Karlfeldt // Germanic Review, 2 (1927)

  • Stork, Charles W., Erik Axel Karlfeldt // American Scandinavian Review, 19 (1931)

  • Myrdal, Janken, Erik Axel Karlfeldt : the farmer’s son who kept a diary and won the Nobel Prize // Writing peasants : studies on peasant literacy in early modern Northern Europe – Kerteminde : Landbohistorisk Selskab, 2002


1931: Nobel Prize in Literature.

Presentation Speech:

Presentation Speech by Anders Osterling, Member of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy, on December 10, 1931

If an interested foreigner were to ask one of Erik Axel Karlfeldt’s countrymen what we admire most in this poet and on what qualities his national greatness depends, it would at first seem easy to give an answer. People like to talk of what they love. The Swede would say that we celebrate this poet because he represents our character with a style and a genuineness that we should like to be ours, and because he has sung with singular power and exquisite charm of the tradition of our people, of all the precious features which are the basis for our feeling for home and country in the shadow of the pine-covered mountains.

But the Swede would soon check himself, realizing that such a general explanation is insufficient, that in Karlfeldt there are many things, beloved but difficult to define, which a proper appraisal must take into account but which are inaccessible to the foreigner. Hence we can offer no ready-made expression of our conviction of the high rank of Karlfeldt’s poetry, for there are elements of mysticism in it, powers and instincts that elude analysis.

We face a similar difficulty on this occasion when we are to briefly sketch the life-work of the great lyrical poet, since it has now been made the object of a great international award. It is the deliberate self-limitation of lyrical poetry, and at the same time its fate, that its most profound qualities and values are indissolubly connected with the character and rhythm of its original language, with the meaning and weight of every single word. Karlfeldt’s individuality may be dimly felt in a translation, but only in Swedish can it be fully comprehended. However, if one attempts to find independent comparative criteria, he is forced to admit that even the treasures of the so-called great literatures have only rarely been enriched by such jewels as Karlfeldt has created in a so-called minor language.

If we look back on Karlfeldt’s notable career from its debut in 1895 and follow it through the works of three decades, steady though limited in size by his austere standards, we see very clearly how this man used his talents with a rare instinct for the fruitful, the solid, and the genuine. He began as a minstrel and a singer of nature, conscious of his ability but still doubtful of his calling. Was there any use for the dreams that thronged his breast? Could they have a meaning for a whole people? Early in his career, the poet looked for a deputy, an alter ego, an independent figure suited to represent his feelings, his sufferings, and his longing as well as his sarcasm. The famous Fridolin was at first a creation of shyness, for the poet was reluctant to appear in his own person and expose the private life of his soul. Fridolin soon became a classic, and he has his place in the rout of Northern Bacchus, rustic cousin of the characters of Bellman, with a firmer gait, but with flowers on his hat from the harvest festival at Pungmakarebo. Karlfeldt’s home became more and more an artistic microcosm in which the universe was mirrored in the same manner as Biblical scenes are mirrored in the baroque fantasies of the frescoes in the farmhouses of Dalekarlia. With his sense of humour, which was often reverence in disguise, he kept his being unstained, and he preserved the magic ring of harmony. But his seemingly peaceful development must have contained many struggles and tensions, just enough to create the necessary pressure for the creative spring. Poetry was for Karlfeldt a continuous test of the strength and substance of his being. Thus he gave a powerful finale to his poetry in Hosthorn (1927) [The Horn of Autumn], his epilogue played on a winter organ, whose pipes reach from earth to heaven but at the same time sound a childhood echo of the small white churches in Dalarna.

The unity of his work is a rarity in our time. If one asks about Karlfeldt’s main problem, one word may serve as an answer: self-discipline. His originality grew on the soil of a pagan and luxuriant wilderness, and he would not have been drawn so often to witch motifs and the pitchy brew of Uriel if he had not felt the presence of demons. The muffled tumult of nature under the moon of pagan festivals is one of the visions that he evokes. The contrast between the heavy intoxication of the blood and the pure celestial yearnings of the soul recurs constantly in his poetry. Yet the different elements never destroy each other. He tames them as does an artist by remaining faithful to himself and by giving a personal touch even to the smallest detail.

In Karlfeldt we find scarcely a single expression of poetic self-consciousness. The increasing response to his work would have made such an expression superfluous even if his solid peasant blood had not been a protection against aesthetic arrogance. We find everywhere proof of the integrity of professional honour that is revealed in beautiful and permanent work. In an age in which handmade things have become rare, there is a new and almost moral value in the masterly, chiselled, and resonant language of his verse.

Karlfeldt’s poetry possesses precisely this stamp of miraculous perfection. Which of us does not remember such stanzas ringing like bells or vibrating like strings, but above all sung with that peculiar and resounding voice that differs from all others? Perhaps we should remember in this context the beautiful song about the old turner, the village craftsman, who played the fiddle for the people on the banks of the Opplimen and made spinning wheels for them…

In all great poetry there is an interrelation between tradition and experiment, and the principles of renewal and conservation are contained in such poetry. The national tradition survives in Karlfeldt because it is renewed personally and has the character of a conquest dearly bought. We may rejoice that this poet, whose inspiration is drawn predominantly from a past that is disappearing or has disappeared, is thoroughly unconventional in his means of expression and shows daring innovations, whereas busy modernists often content themselves with following the latest trends and fads. Nor can there be any doubt that, despite his provincial subject matter, the singer of Dalarna is one of the contemporary poets who have most boldly tried the wings of imagination and experimented with the possibilities of poetic form.

Thus the decision to honour the poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt with this year’s Nobel Prize is intended as an expression of justice by international standards. Death has stepped between the laureate and his reward; under the circumstances the Prize will be given to his family. He has left us, but his work remains. The tragic world of chance is outshone by the imperishable summer realm of poetry. Before our eyes we see the tomb in the dusk of winter. At the same time we hear the great victorious harmonies sung by the happiness of the creative genius; we feel the scents from the Northern pleasure garden that his poetry created for the comfort and joy of all receptive hearts.

At the banquet, Professor C.W. Oseen spoke about the deceased laureate, Is there nothing that is only beneficial, to humanity as well as to the individual? Perhaps there is! What the poems of Erik Axel Karlfeldt have meant to the Swedish people, you, honoured guests, cannot know, but for us it remains unforgettable. For thirty-five years they have accompanied the ups and downs of our lives. That nothing may emerge from Karlfeldt’s work, this world of beauty, for the benefit of humanity and the individual, I cannot believe, I will not believe. And yet – how far are we from the intentions of Alfred Nobel even here? Out of the prize meant to help a needy artist we have made a wreath, a wreath to adorn the coffin of our most beloved poet.

If today’s award does not strictly follow Nobel’s intentions, does that mean that the result of this procedure will be less than what Nobel intended? I say not! What we have created is not less but more! This festive ceremony is a tribute to genius. It may not have much in common with Alfred Nobel’s dreams but it is akin to his work. He was a genius himself His work has served humanity, to build and to destroy. It has served and destroyed life. The festive occasion we are celebrating is dedicated to genius with its good and evil faces, with this double significance, because we do not know what humanity needs most and what furthers its prospering most: good or evil. We dedicate this ceremony to genius, brother of madness, to whom we owe everything that makes our lives worthwhile.

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