New Fröding materials
Gustaf Fröding, at the age of 28, is admitted in the spring of 1888 to Ersta Hospital in Stockholm, having been diagnosed with chronic alcoholism. He is discharged after a time but soon requires re-admission and ends up in Katarina Hospital. Here he is looked after by a nurse named Alma Lindblad.
His stay at Katarina is a short one, and back at Ersta he has warm memories of Sister Alma. He does what he does best – writes a poem and sends it to her as a letter.
In a humorous tone, Fröding likens Ersta to a monastery where he is a monk. He imagines Alma standing by his grave and reading the inscription on the headstone: “Här en stackars munk sin vila funnit…” (“Here a poor monk found his resting place…”), which presages the well-known poem “A Poor Monk of Skara”, published in Fröding’s debut poetry collection three years later: Gitarr och dragharmonika (Guitar and Accordion) (1891).
Alma Lindblad’s three letters dated 1888 and addressed to Gustaf Fröding at Ersta Hospital are part of Uppsala University Library’s Fröding Collection. In 2014, the Library had the opportunity to acquire, as a valuable supplement to the existing papers, manuscripts and correspondence, the poem and the two letters that Gustaf wrote to Alma at Katarina Hospital, which had hitherto been passed down through generations of her family.
The poem of Gustaf Fröding to Alma Lindblad begins (Swedish) ”Fromma syster! / Ni som helt Er ägnat / åt Ert helgon, Sancta Katarina! / Ni, som har så rikeliga regnat / hjälpens balsam på de armes pina! /Även jag såg livet åter knoppas / när åt mig Ni unga rosor räckte! / Även jag begynte åter hoppas, / när Er röst min duvna ande väckte!” Han avslutar med: ”Och när orden då Ni hunnit fatta / efter någon undrande förbidan, / skall Ni kanske gå Er väg och skratta, / så Ni måste hålla Er i sidan!”