Arthur Antonius Andersson left Sweden in 1924 when he was 29 years old. He had 180 kroner to his name, a wife, two infant boys and a heart full of hope. His son reveals that Andersson became his own person in North America and that he was intent on securing the well-being of his fellow Swedes: what he refers to as his Landsmen. Specifically, Andersson worked for the Swedish American Passenger Line, edited Svenska Canada Tidningen, conducted the Swedish Male Voice Choir, helped to found the Viking Club, and was ultimately appointed Swedish Consul by Lester Pearson, in 1955 and given an extension to his tenure. As his granddaughter, Laurel McCallum, so fondly puts it, the depth of his passion for his homeland and humanity now remain in the poignancy of his poems.
McCallum says that about a year ago, she was wondering what her grandfather had written in the Swedish book of poetry sitting on her shelf. The book had been published in 1934, ten years after his arrival to Winnipeg from Gällivare, Norrbotten, Sweden. She proceeded to have the book translated and was surprised at the depth of the poetry. The translator, who had been doing the work in Sweden, was also intrigued with the poems, as were the Swedes she was visiting. McCallum began to do more and more research on the poetry and on the information from her grandfather’s life that she had been unaware of. The book, Stoft, is in the National Archives of Canada Library and McCallum plans on publishing an English version soon.
Det går ett pilgrimståg igenom världen
av vandrare från grottekvarnens land.
Och trötta händer famna vandringsstaven,
ty tung är ledens djupa ökensand.
De vandra emot solbelysta höjder
med blicken lyft mot ljusets tempelsal.
Men, lång är vägen, målet ligger fjärran
från livets skumma, dimomhöljda dal.
Jag såg dem uti nattens tysta timmar,
jag ser dem än när dagen bränner het.
Och om du frågar dem vart färden gäller,
de tiga tyst, ty ingen enda vet.
Utopia! – Var ligger lyckans rike?
Finns ingen här att skänka vandrarn tröst?
– Det enda svar som klingar genom natten
är ekots bittra, skoningslösa röst
Och fastän pilgrimsskaran ständigt växer
den aldrig dock sitt drömda rike når
ty genom själviskhetens täta dimmor
och hatets törnestigar färden går.
En gång måhända skall det ljusa segra,
och solen stråla för en bättre dag,
och nya släkten trotsa stigens faror,
– när mänskligheten glömt sitt eget jag.
Arthur Antonius Andersson