Erik Axel Karlfeldt is considered as one of the most significant poets of the last century, a leading figure in the tradition of lyrical poetry in Sweden. His poetry was awarded Nobel Prize in 1931 on the year of his death.

Every year on the occasion of Erik Axel Karlfeldt’s birthday, cultural and literary programs are arranged in Dalecarlia jointly by Karlfeldt Association in Folklore, Karlfeldt Society and the town council of Avesta. Two years ago in 2014 a grand ceremony was arranged with warmth and fervor at Avesta to mark the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his birthday.

The leading role is played by the Council of the Town of Avesta, owner of Karlfeldtsgarden, a house where the poet spent his early years, in the holding of these ceremonies. While the leading force behind the council is Karin Perers who also holds the office of the vice president of the council. She is the one who with her remarkable managerial skills manages to look after all arrangements of the ceremony and took pains to invite scholars and the lovers of the poetry of Karlfeldt from all over the world.

This year among other delegates of the ceremony included Dawit Isaak, Christer Asberg, Hassan Abo Alshamlet, Fakhar Zaman, Dr Fatima Hussain and I.

However one more mentionable feature of the ceremony this year was the launching of the Urdu translation of Karlfeldt’s poetry. I am the translator of the Karlfeldt’s poetry and participated in the ceremony in the same status. The book has been published by National Book Foundation, Islamabad with the title ‘Nobel Inaam Tak Safar’ journey to Nobel prize).

The book contains translation of a selection of Karlfeldt’s poetry and a detailed biographical sketch, along with a selective collection of rare photographs related to Karlfeldt. He also worked as a permanent secretary of the legendry Swedish Academy and the Nobel Library.

Poetry is usually considered untranslatable. As translator I know, this statement is not altogether incorrect. You can translate words which express feelings and emotions. But the feeling and emotions themselves are hard to translate. In spite of this fact, translators keep rendering the texts and tying knots between different languages, which represent different cultures, histories and people.

Karlfeldt’s poetry belongs to the tradition of romantic and lyrical verse. It glitters with exquisitely fine romantic images, fantasia and the lyrical depiction of the natural beauty of the landscape of ever green Karlbro, Sweden. You find mirror surface lakes, ice top mountains, prairies, farmers, flower beds, and paradise like solitude in his poetry.

The ceremony at the 152nd birthday of Karlfeldt this year was embellished with literary sessions on peace and literature, music performances and poetry recitations by famous Swedish and Syrian artists and poets. One session was dedicated to a narration by Eritrean-Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak of his experiences during his without-trial prison in Eritrea.

The delegation from Pakistan and India, which was led by Punjabi master writer and intellectual Fakhar Zaman, was taken to a tour to Karlbo, the native place of Karlfeldt, and Karlfeldtsgarden. Meetings were also arranged of the delegation with Odd Zschiedrich, Administrative Director of Swedish Academy and the Nobel Library, and Johannes Rudberg, Head of Division, Collection and Research Development, National Libraqry of Sweden and members of Foreign Affair Committee of the Parliament at Stockholm. The concluding event was a dinner arranged by a journalists’ association at the National Press Club, Stockholm.

I personally take the translation of Erik Axel Karlfeldt’s poetry into Urdu as an attempt to widen the scope and world view of Urdu, and also enrich it with a new taste and angle to see things. Not only this but also this sort of activity may serve in consolidating literary and cultural ties between Pakistan and Sweden, and help us learn more from a progressed and advanced nation of the world.


The writer is a freelance contributor.