Ancient honors slipping


With pigtails, rosy cheeks
they praise an ancient freedom,
silent beauty of our northern lands
summer meadows, sun and skies.
But when with rose-bud lips
they praise our honored name
I think of troops that ravaged Poland,
of people starving, yoked by tax,
I see our pilfered goods,
castles built with blood,
I feel our ancient honors slip
into a shroud
a darker shade of brown.

Karl_XIIs_likfärd_(1884),_målning_av_Gustaf_Cederström_(1845-1933)

Today Claudia wants us to address our national anthem and write poetry about it. Our song which actually never mentions Sweden by name was written when past honors of the battlefield was praised higher than today. Sweden is actually only mentioned in the Polish national anthem. Still we sing it, and the first verse is actually better than the second.

24 responses to “Ancient honors slipping

  1. Your use of ancient twice says it all. I bear similar feelings in regard to my own country . I wonder if there comes a time we outgrow our anthems and what they once stood for.

  2. Powerful thoughts. It would be a difficult thing to reflect on. As far as I know, the only particularly questionable thing about the U.S. national anthem, other than the fact that normal people can’t sing it, is that the tune was taken from a well-known drinking song of the times. I honestly don’t know which song, it’s just a rumor I’ve heard.
    Thanks much for visiting us at poetryofthenetherworld dot blogspot dot com
    (I deconstructed the URL because WordPress seems to interpret URL’s as Spam.)

    • The words were a poem written by Francis Scott key . We only sing the first stanza but it is very interesting to read the other three

      • It was penned after a battle in 1814 where we were fighting for our freedom. the battle was long and intense but when the sun rose, our flag – tattered, burned – still waved over the fort.

  3. the silent beauty on one side…the shedding of blood on the other… too much blood was flowing over here as well… sometimes our heritage can be a difficult one

  4. I know our heritage in the US can be hard for many of us to accept, but initially, we loved this country so much and wanted our freedom so badly, it would only be obtained by sacrifice. Sometimes, the militant part of all of our histories are outgrown. We realize we need to show our love of country and others in more positive ways. This is indeed a powerful piece.

  5. Beauty vs. Blood, patriotism vs. imperialism, greed vs. deception/lies/fascism/dictatorships creates quite the conundrum for some, who would like live the words, to walk the walk.

  6. You titled this perfectly to reflect the content of the word choices you used “ravaged,” “pilfered” and “built with blood.” Really strong write, Bjorn!

  7. I was moved by ancient honor slipping but specially admire this part:

    they praise an ancient freedom,
    silent beauty of our northern lands
    summer meadows, sun and skies.

  8. My guess is that many of us look askance as aspects of our National Anthems–those that deal with war and bloodshed. And yet it seems that we are still called upon to sacrifice for freedom. I didn’t realize the strong historical connection between Poland and Sweden.

  9. It’s true.. maybe anthems should evolve with passing time..or should they remain as mere glorifications of the past!! It’s the sense of nationhood that they create I think, even after the words have lost their meaning.

  10. We may sing of ancient things from the past that may not seem to represent us today, but for some reason that emotional connection created by the words and the music make us respond with allegiance to our countries, our larger family. I like how you include the pride as well as the blood in your poem. Enjoyed reading it Bjorn.

  11. Now I must find the words to your anthem after reading your excellent poem…the history of nations in this world is a mix of glory and, sadly, bloodshed because of man’s shrouded heart.

  12. “castles built with blood” — I do think that within every country there are castles (literal or symbolic) that are built with blood (literal or symbolic); and though the “ancient honors” may sometimes slip, there is always hope!

  13. I think many of our anthems, from bygone eras, are scrutinised rather differently today. (Couldn’t get linky right; mine is here: ttp://passionatecrone.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/who-come-waltzing-matilda-with-me.html)

  14. History is generally a quagmire. Many pass through, though, aspects of that passage are seldom clear. Those who follow interpret … usually subjectively and with bias.

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