BY DAVE WOOD
A Norglaise Christmas
Before I began working full time for the Minneapolis Tribune in 1981, I contributed occasional pieces to the editorial opinion pages, many of which I wrote in Scandinavian dialect, a writing technique that Harvard professor Einar Haugen popularized in the 1970s. I had little chance to do the same as a feature writer, but one Christmas years ago I tried my hand at some derivative verse and later on Christmas Eves I read it on WCCO Radio's Boone and Erickson show. If Roger Erickson liked it, maybe you readers will too. So here goes. Try reading it aloud, exactly the way it's spelled and you might make a big hit this Christmas Eve or at your next Sons of Norway banquet. Vuss da nate before Criss-muss an' all trew da house, Not ing-a-ting vuss stirring, not ee-wenn a mouse.
Da jung vunss vuss packed lake sardeence in vun bed Vile wish-unss uff rommegrot danced in dare head. Ma, she cooked lew-ta-fisk in a nightgown of puce And me? Eye yusst sucked on a big cud uff snoose. Den oh-wer da hoghouse aroce such a cladder, Eye yumped from da tee-wee tew see vhut vuss da madder. Avay tew da front torch ay tromped in may bewtss Lake Ingald da hired man on one uff hiss tewtss. Den vjut tew may vundering ice should appear? A John Deere cornbinder, pulled by ate vite-tail deer. Vid a liddle old drifer so nimble an' kvik Dat eye sviftly de-dewced dat he must be St. Nick.
Fasster dan Pug Lund, da vite-tailss day came, An' he visseled and shouted and called dem by name: “Now Astrid! Now Birgit! Now Rundvig an! Ragnee! On Torbjorn! On Torsten! on Ole, an' Magnee!
Pass da manure pile, get on da ball, Speed tew da farmouse and climb op da vall! An' den in a tah'-ving-kling ay heard on our rewf Da prancing an' pawing uff each liddle hewf. Eye vent tew da fireplace tew trow on a stick An' down trew da shimney slid yolly St. Nick.
Hiss ice day vuss blew, hiss smile it ver sveet, Hiss nose vuss bright red from tew much aqua-veet.
Hiss cap vuss from Monkey Vord, his bewtss verr Sears'Best An' hiss bundle uff gifts put hiss back tew da test. A krumkake baker, for Inger my vife. Fo me, a Rappala fisk cleaning knife.
Ski poles for Sven (plus a nowel by Undset).
For Lena? Membership in Nordmann's Forbundet, Nick didn't make small talk, tewk giftss from his sack Lake Hadacol for Gramma an' her miss-rubel hack.
A truss for poor Leroy, for Ingvald some schnapps, An' for Ole a fuzzbuster to voard of da copss.
He hitched op hiss trouserss, viped his noce on hiss sleeve, Consulted his sked -yewl, said “Yee, I gotta leeve.”
Den laying hiss finger inside uff his lip, Nick dug out vet snoose, den gave it a flip.
He sprang tew da binder, tew da deer, gave a vissel An' avay day all flew like a Pershing crewce missle.
Ay heard him giff hollar, ass he drofe out off sight.
“Ya, Glad Jule tew all and tew all a gewdnight!”
The poem has appeared in several publications, but then I suffered under new management. I was forbidden to write in Norglaise again. My new 30-year-old boss, who hailed from out East, said it was “divisive and racist,” which most certainly disqualifies better poets than I, including Robert Burns who made it to the top writing in what Professor Haugen might call “Scotanglaise,” or Mark Twain who made a big hit with his rendition of “Huckleberry Anglais.”
So if you don't ever see me again on these pages, you'll know that political correctness has struck again.
P.S. If you're wondering about “Pug Lund” he was an All-American halfback for the Gophers in 1936.”Nordmann's Forbundet” is a Norwegian Fraternal Insurance Company. “Hadacol” was once a popular cough medicine containing lots of alcohol.
Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.