Opp Amaryllis!

In "Opp Amaryllis!", Carl Michael Bellman invokes in rococo style classical images of the sea, with nymphs and dolphins. Medallion by Francesco Marti, A Nymph on a Dolphin, c. 1500

Opp Amaryllis! (Up, Amaryllis!) is one of the Swedish poet and performer Carl Michael Bellman's best-known and best-loved songs, from his 1791 collection, Fredman's Songs, where it is No. 31. The song is a graceful pastorale in rococo style, involving a sleeping nymph who is invited to come fishing upon the sea's stormy wave; in reality the nymph is a Swedish woman, and the stormy wave is a waterway near Stockholm.


Carl Michael Bellman is a central figure in the Swedish song tradition and a powerful influence in Swedish music, known for his 1790 Fredman's Epistles and his 1791 Fredman's Songs. A solo entertainer, he played the cittern, accompanying himself as he performed his songs at the royal court.[1]

Jean Fredman (1712 or 1713 – 1767) was a real watchmaker of Bellman's Stockholm. The fictional Fredman, alive after 1767, but without employment, is the supposed narrator in Bellman's epistles and songs.[2] The epistles, written and performed in different styles, paint a complex picture of the life of the city during the eighteenth century. A frequent theme is the demimonde, with Fredman's cheerfully drunk Order of Bacchus,[3] a loose company of ragged men who favour strong drink and prostitutes. At the same time as depicting this reality, Bellman creates a rococo picture of life, full of classical allusion, following the French post-baroque poets; the women, including the beautiful Ulla Winblad, are "nymphs", and Neptune's festive troop of followers and sea-creatures sport in Stockholm's waters.[4] The juxtaposition of elegant and low life is humorous, sometimes burlesque, but always graceful and sympathetic.[1] The songs are "most ingeniously" set to their music, which is nearly always borrowed and skilfully adapted.[5]

The eponymous character Amaryllis is taken from classical tales. In Ancient Greek literature, Theocritus's Idylls, a goatherd sings a serenade outside the cave of the nymph Amaryllis.[6] In Ancient Roman literature, Amaryllis was a heroine in Virgil's pastoral poem, the Eclogues.[7]


Melody and verse form

The song is in 3
and is marked Menuetto. It has 4 verses, each of 11 lines; lines 2-7 are short. The rhyming pattern of each verse is AA-B-CCC-B-DDD-B.


The song invites the sleeping nymph, in reality Wilhelmina Norman, to awaken and come fishing.[8]

Versions of the second stanza of song 31
Carl Michael Bellman, 1791[9] Hendrik Willem Van Loon, 1939[10] Paul Britten Austin, 1977[11]

Kom nu och fiska, noten är bunden,
Kom nu pĂĄ stunden,
    Följ mig ĂĄt;
    Kläd pĂĄ dig tröjan,
    Kjorteln och slöjan;
    Gäddan och löjan
    Ställ försĂĄt.
Vakna Amaryllis lilla, vakna;
Lät mig ej ditt glada sällskap sakna;
Bland Delphiner och Sirener nakna
Sku vi nu plaska med vĂĄr lilla bĂĄt.

Let's go a-fishing, nets are now spread, oh,
Leave your cozy bed
and follow me.
Fasten your placket,
Put on your jacket,
Stop now all the racket,
Hear my plea.
Amaryllis, waken little one,
Without you life is robbed of mirth and fun.
Let's follow dolphins and with sirens run,
And in our skiff, splash and dance over the sea.

Come, come a-fishing! Ready our rod is;
    Fasten thy bodice,
        Skirt and coat.
    Cease then thy railing
    Little availing;
    Perch, pike and grayling
        Greedy float.
Fairest Amaryllis, do not fly me,
Nor the pleasure of these hours deny me.
Where the dolphin rolls on billow briny
    Let us be splashing in our little boat.


Landscape with a stream, a couple in a rowing-boat, and a shepherd with his sheep. Karl Schallhas [de], 1649

The Bellman scholar Lars Lönnroth calls the song a graceful pastorale in rococo style. He notes that people have taken his pastoral songs, of which this is "the best known", as completely conventional works following the classical template of a shepherd-poet in pursuit of his fair nymph. It indeed begins, he writes, as an aubade or morning song, like a medieval Provencal troubadour's; the young fisherman wakens his beloved and, in the first stanza, asks her to come fishing with him in an Arcadian landscape peopled with mythic figures, including Morpheus the god of sleep, and Neptune, god of the sea. In the next stanza, he bids her dress herself; in the third, to fetch her fishing-tackle, and in the last stanza to climb into his boat. It plays out as a simple sequence of theatrical scenes. But, writes Lönnroth, it can equally well be read as a seduction. The last stanza drops the pretence of going out to catch pike, and states openly that "Love shall rule/In our chests". The seascape, too, he writes, has suddenly changed from calm to stormy; but the shepherd sings that he can find comfort "In thy calm embrace". Lönnroth observes that in Fredman's Epistle no. 25, "Blåsen nu alla", Bellman goes further into full-blown grotesque, sharply contrasting the classical imagery with the drunken orgiastic reality; but in "Opp Amaryllis!", the poet shows his skill in creating drama from a simple shepherd-poem, and undermining the pastoral with discreet hints of storms and death.[12]

Bellman's biographer Paul Britten Austin describes the song as "one of his most delightful, and for many [it] years was far and away the most popular. It goes to a charming air."[13]

Students of Swedish literature are expected to study Fredman's Songs and Epistles."[14]

"Opp Amaryllis!" was recorded in 1924 by Folke Andersson and Edvard Andreasson for HMV.[15] More recently, it has been recorded many times; it was for example among the Bellman songs recorded by Roland Bengtsson and Folke Sällström,[16] and in 1988 by the actor Mikael Samuelson.[17] The song was recorded in English by Martin Best in 1995.[18]


  1. ^ a b "Carl Michael Bellmans liv och verk. En minibiografi (The Life and Works of Carl Michael Bellman. A Short Biography)" (in Swedish). The Bellman Society. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  2. ^ Britten Austin 1967, pp. 60–61.
  3. ^ Britten Austin 1967, p. 39.
  4. ^ Britten Austin 1967, pp. 81–83, 108.
  5. ^ Britten Austin 1967, p. 63.
  6. ^ "loebclassics". loebclassics.com. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  7. ^ Virgil. "Virgil's Eclogues". virgil.org. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  8. ^ Bellman 1989, pp. 209–212.
  9. ^ Bellman 1989, p. 209.
  10. ^ Van Loon & Castagnetta 1939, pp. 83–84.
  11. ^ Britten Austin 1977, p. 121.
  12. ^ Lönnroth 2005, pp. 120–124.
  13. ^ Britten Austin 1967, p. 103.
  14. ^ "LITTERATURLISTA V15 LV1150 Moment 2: Klassiker ur Sveriges litteratur". Gothenburg University. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  15. ^ "Opp Amaryllis by Folke Andersson, Edvard Andreasson". SecondHandSongs. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  16. ^ Bengtsson, Roland; Sällström, Folke. "BELLMAN, C.M.: Fredmans sånger (excerpts) (Sällström, Bengtsson)". Naxos. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  17. ^ Samuelson, Mikael. "Music of Carl Michael Bellman". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  18. ^ "To Carl Michael with love : Martin Best sings the songs and epistles of Sweden's 18th century songwriter / Carl Michael Bellman Solna : EMI, cop. 1995". Svensk MedieDatabas. Retrieved 27 June 2021.


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