How boring it is to be ill … but Wilhelm von Braun writes humorous poems
In the summer of 1849, I was mostly at home except for a few weeks spent at Fullerstad and a few days at Krusenhof. August was very ill throughout the summer and the joy and well-being during that time were rare guests at Loddby. The last days of the year, I had a violent rush of blood to my lungs, and was sick for 3 weeks. A thousand times I exclaimed with Braun:
How boring, so boring it is to be ill
woe it’s invention, nevertheless, still
time passes by, as time’s wont to do,
But slowly, damned slowly, time passes through.
(Attempt at translating Wilhelm von Braun’s poem Fantasi på sjuksängen).
This is the first diary entry where we learn that Augusta had tuberculosis, or consumption. Her brother August was also ill and we don’t know what he was afflicted with that summer. Fullerstad was the home of Augusta’s dear relatives, the Schuberts, and Krusenhof was the home of her best friends, the Hjorts.
But who was Wilhelm von Braun who wrote poetry that a 22-year-old girl would have memorized? Well, at that time he was one of Sweden’s most popular poets. And not all of his poems would have been suitable for young women :).
Wilhelm von Braun (1813-1860), like Paul Wahlfelt and other officer friends of Augusta, got his early education in the cadet school at Karlberg’s military academy in Stockholm. This was a boarding school for boys, usually from privileged families. Wilhelm followed the tradition of his father, and was enrolled at Karlberg at 15 years of age in 1828. After graduating in 1834, and for the next 7 years, he served as a lieutenant.
But his passion was poetry and prose. He published his first poetry in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in 1834. In 1849 he wrote a story called Napoleon, the Adventure of a Cadet, which was based on his experiences at Karlberg. In 1846, he resigned his commission as a lieutenant to be a full-time writer.
Von Braun is presently having a renaissance. There is now a Wilhelm von Braun Association who has published the book Wilhelm von Braun – The one that ladies never read (“Den där som damerna aldrig läst”). And while reading the book, one can enjoy a glass of Wilhelm von Braun’s Punsch, a traditional Swedish cordial, produced in honor of this national poet.
I am glad that Augusta still got to enjoy the poems suitable for women, and those that provided humor for young girls suffering with consumption.
Sources (in Swedish):
www.tam-arkiv.se/share/proxy/alfresco…/ASU_207.pdf (Kadettminnen av överste Claes Bratt)
Fantasi på Sjuksängen i Samlade Arbeten af Wilhelm v. Braun, Del 1 (pdf of book available free online)
http://www.culturum.se/Braun/2StPunsc.htm (Wilhelm von Brauns Punsch)
Featured image is part of an oil painting by Antonio Mancini (1852-1930), Resting, 1887. http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/artist/Mancini,+Antonio