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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,

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

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.’

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—

‘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:

‘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

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,

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

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

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

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.”