"Med blod man våra åkrar sköljer": folk och dygd i Bengt Lidners Ode til Finske Soldaten<\i>

Anna Cullhed

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7557/4.2390

Keywords

Bengt Lidner; people; citizen; virtue; literature; Anjala league

Abstract

Bengt Lidner's poem ‘Ode to the Finnish Soldier' from 1788 was written during the Swedish war with Russia. This paper argues that Lidner took part in Gustav III's staging of the war by accusing the officers of the so-called Anjala league of treachery, and at the same time turning to ‘the people' for support. ‘The people' were defined as subjects of the Swedish crown from the core parts of the realm, today's Finland and Sweden, irrespective of language or ethnicity, but sharing a common and glorious history. Lidner combines a cosmopolitan perspective with a patriotic tendency in his poem. Some of the central concepts of the ode, such as ‘citizen' and ‘citizen-ness', carry potentially republican and egalitarian connotations, but this tendency is counteracted by the poet's obvious praise of the king. Lidner's ode stands as an example of the ambivalent use of political concepts during the late eighteenth century, the very concepts that would transform into the key concepts of nineteenth-century nationalism.

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