Monday, 2 July 2012

Poem about Danishness by the Danish writer Benny Andersen


Closet Swedes


Is there anything as Danish as a potato?
The potato originally comes from South America.

Is there anything as Danish as the Dannebrog itself?
It fell from the sky long ago in Estonia
and looks a bit like the Swiss flag.

Does anything sound more genuinely Danish
than the music to the ballad opera Hill of the Elves?
Composed by a German with diligent use
of Swedish folk melodies.

Watch out
this is where it gets difficult:
Is there anything more Danish than the Danes?
Descendants of the ‘Danes’
a clan in Sweden
invaded our country way back in the 4th century
while the original Danes
the ‘Herules’
the noble and brave
but numerically inferior ‘Herules’
were driven out by the cruel Swedish ‘Danes’
and had to drift around in the Europe of the time
for several hundred years until a few thousand
of these original Danes eventually managed
to get as far as Sweden and settle there
under the doubtful term ‘Swedes’.

Here’s the question for you once again
and think carefully before you answer:
Is there anything more Danish than the Danes?

The correct answer is
Yes!
The Swedes!
They are the authentic, true Danes
Like the Jews in the desert they are constantly
being drawn towards the Promised Land
that flows with beer and bacon
but for seventeen hundred years they have been occupied
By whom?
By the Swedes!
By us!

Not so strange that Scania
demands the return of Denmark
not so strange that many of us crypto-Swedes
find it hard to speak proper Danish
knock off the endings
swallow consonants
choke on the syntax
so the whole thing sounds like ‘bre’n’bu’erpuddin’
not so strange that we hardly understand each other
not so strange that the most frequent word is ‘Wha’?’
It’s not our language at all
We’re not us at all
We’re a heap of sodding Swedish immigrant workers
who have driven this country to wrack and ruin
we should bloody well clear off home to where we came from
home to Sweden
Your sun, your sky, your ‘verdant tracts’
where we could finally confess our true identity
show our hand
We are yellow
We are blue
Where we could finally beat ourselves at football
make us bite the dust in the Melody Grand Prix
Oh, how we have needed
and longed for this
to be able at last to sing Bellman’s songs
in the original
our rightful language
or språk as the real name is
at last we’ll get a monopoly on
being the only people in the world
who can faultlessly pronounce
Sjutusensjuhundrasjutisju
without losing our dentures
at last we’ll be liberated from our
lethal national inferiority complex
and be allowed to unfold our talents
and soar skywards
as the North’s freest swans
at last we can avoid having eternally
to listen to that stupid ‘don’t fancy yourself’ attitude
that some nutty Norwegian author
has foisted on us

Ourselves at last
free at last
Du gamla du fria
home at last where we belong
at last with a chance
of making a Hardy out of a Laurel
and toasting each other handsomely
when we have introduced humane conditions
as regards alcohol
the drinking songs already exist
now it’s just a matter of giving them substance
making them credible

Great times lie ahead
and
If we can make it here
we’ll make it ev’rywhere

And finally there is after all
a lot more room in Sweden.

2 comments:

David C Brown said...

Bits of this appeal to a Scot.

John Irons said...

ah, but the scots are really norwegians.