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Fredrik August Dahlgren

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Dahlgren, Fredrik August (1816–1895), writer, composer, Sweden.

Project Runeberg has published the following works by this author:

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Fredrik August Dahlgren ("Ransätt") var ledamot av Svenska Akademien, stol 6, från 1871. Se även Projekt Runebergs Tema Svenska Akademien.

When Fredrik August Dahlgren, by now a grey-haired official in the Swedish civil service, published for the first time a collection of his "Ballads in the Värmland Dialect", he put on the title page as the author's name "Fredrek på Rannsätt (Fredrek of Rannsätt).

He was born on the 20th September 1816 in Taberg in the parish of Nordmark, where his father, Barthold Dahlgren was works manager, but by the time Fredrik was 4 years old, his father bought Ransäter's works estate, the poet Erik Gustaf Geijer's ancestral home. Here Fredrik grew up, himself the eighth of fifteen children.

Fredrik Dahlgren especially found sympathy with his enthusiasm for poetry with the two young girls in the neighbouring farm of Berget., one of whom later became his wife, and with the eldest son at the neighbouring farm of Uddesrud, who was later to become the famous painter Uno Troili.

After some years' study at Karlstad school and high school, Dahlgren became a student at Uppsala in 1834 and pursued linguistic and aesthetic studies. In 1839 he took his master of arts degree. His first idea was to seek a career in teaching but instead he moved in 1841 to Stockholm where he worked in the royal archives of the Education Ministry.

Even as a student Dahlgren had written ballads in the Värmland dialect, usually to well known folk melodies, and in some cases to tunes he himself composed. He often recited his ballads himself and they were circulated through copies among friends. Some of them were made public for the first time in Vermlands-tidningen. In the edition of 20th July 1842 there appeared "Hârrkhärsboen" - "The Gentleman Farmer" under the title "Vermländsk bondevisa" - "The Ballad of theVärmland Farmer". On the 28th June, 1843 appeared "Nils Annerssas Vise" - "Nils Annerssa's Ballad". These poems, with a number of others formed a collection called "Gamle viser" - "Old Ballads" and were published in 1850.

Some of these ballads were written the first year after Dahlgren moved to Stockholm, but then he took a rest from writing poems for several decades. He was promoted to head of department in the Ministry of Education but yet found time and energy for extensive literary activity in other areas.

During 1840, 1850 and the beginning of the 1860s, Dahlgren was very productive. A special challenge was his position as writer at the Royal Theatre. He translated plays of Shakespeare, Calderon, Moreto, Lessing and Heiberg among others, and also wrote original pieces. One of these, and the most remarkable, belongs to his home district, namely "Vermländingarne, sorglustigt tal-,sång- och dansspel in två afdelingar och sex indelingar" - "The Värmlanders, tragi-comic,spoken-, song- and dance-play in two acts and six scenes", first performed at the Royal Theatre on the 27th March 1846 and then given 277 performances up to February 1896 and countless other performances on other stages. In addition to his work at the Ministry, he also published many original texts.

During the last decades of his life, Dahlgren devoted, while in service, his surplus time and energy, and after his retirement in 1882, all his time and energy to studies and work concerning the Swedish language, both past and present. In 1871 he became a member of the Swedish Academy and a dictionary compiled by him of now obsolete words from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries was included in the Swedish Academy's famous Dictionary of the Swedish Language

However, in the 1870s a greater interest in regional dialects, folk poems, folk legends and so on was awakened in universities, an interest that led to the founding of dialect associations and the publishing of their writings. This made Dahlgren see his own poems in a different light and in 1875 he published a collection of his old ballads under the title "Viser på Varmlanske tongmåle deckta åttå Fredrek på Rannsätt" - "Ballads in the Värmland dialect written by Fredrik of Ransäter".

This awakening led to a new surge of creativity and Dahlgren started to write many more poems in the Värmland dialect. In 1876 he published "Speller nye viser på Varmlanske tongmåle deckta åttå Fredrek på Rannsätt" - "Brand New Ballads in the Värmland dialect written by Fredrik of Ransäter". In 1886 he published a collected edition of both "Old Ballads" and "Brand New Ballads" with the addition of "Sprett sprang nye viser" - "Spanking Brand New Ballads". The last of these was called "Farväll" - "Farewell" and finishes with the verse:

Farewell then my children at play,
you poems from a rosier time now,
no sisters or brothers in rhyme now,
your father is too old and grey.

However, some new poems were born. Three poems appeared in "The Värmlanders, Värmland Christmas newspaper 1894" and some were found among Dahlgren's posthumous papers. These were to be known as "Siste vise" - "Last Ballads".

Dahlgren in the autumn of 1894 moved with his wife and two daughters to Djursholm outside Stockholm in a villa he called "Ransäter". In spite of his old age he still found the strength to be busy with his language work. The last two poems from his pen are the small poems "Vaka" - "Vigil" and "Vaggvisa" -"Lullaby". They are not in dialect for he thought their mood did not suit it, the dialect in which he had sung of his lust for life as in "Jänta å ja'" - "The Lassie and I".

The end felt near; his last spoken wish was to see one more spring, but this was not to be. He died on the 16th February 1895.

His folk ballads that so accurately depicted the joys and sorrows of country people have always been greatly appreciated, especially by those for whom they were written - the Värmland people.

All of Dahlgren's Värmland poems, some 46, have been translated into English by Mike McArthur (mike@swedishpoetry.co.uk and www.swedishpoetry.co.uk). Mike aslo kindly contributed this presentation of Dahlgren to the project.


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