Dagerman has received considerable attention for his satirical verses, biting comments on the topic of the day published in the Anarcho-Syndicalist daily The Worker. He wrote some 1,300 verses many of which many are popularized in Sweden as they have become treasured music lyrics for a string of musicians. A booklet of verses have been translated into French by Philippe Bouquet, (Billets Quotidiens, Edition Cent Pages, 2002). Some have also been translated into English.

  • Pithy Poems. Translation by Laurie Thompson. The Lampeter Translation Series: 4. Lampeter, Wales. 1989.
  • Daily Doses. Translation by Laurie Thompson. Set to music by Leif Gellerfalk. Lampeter, Wales. 1990.
  • Billets Quotidiens. Translation by Philippe Bouquet. Edition Cent Pages, 2002.


Inspired by the current abortion debate, in which a learned professor informed us of how many regiments had been lost to thee country’s armed forces as a result of abortions.

Sleep my baby, don’t be sad
’cause you’ve got no Mom or Dad.
Time will heal such trifles.
Dream of battles myriad,
dream of guns and rifles.

Listen to the bugle’s call!
Dream away: you’re still too small
for marching into battle.
When you’re big you’ll see it all
and have your own death rattle.

Sleep, my baby, do not cry;
there’s time before you need to sigh
And moan and bleed, God willing.
All of us are born to die,
and some to do the killing.

Translation by Laurie Thompson.

Pithy Poems, translated by Laurie Thompson, 1989.

Missing Persons

Almost four hundred people are reported missing in Sweden every year.

A brother’s reported as absent.
A sister’s gone without a trace.
She speaks with a local accent,
And he has a scar on his face.

He belongs to the young generation,
And she is not very old.
That’s all. There’s no more information.
Oh, yes: it’s getting quite cold.

From the chill, barren wasteland that’s out there
Comes no sound save an anguished bird’s cry.
Four hundred souls are there somewhere:
They could easily be you or I.

Translation by Laurie Thompson.

Billets Quotidiens, translated by Philippe Bouquet, 2002.

The Holy City

On Christmas Eve two small children froze to death in a Rome slum.

The Holy City was frozen,
The holy night chilly as sin.
Two children froze stiff in a hovel:
They couldn’t find room at the inn.

The stars kept on shining so brightly;
No shepherds came seeking a stall,
There were no three kings; no one noticed
An occurrence of interests at all.

It happens quite rarely that angels
Come singing their songs at your door.
The Holy City was frozen,
But Holy, the same as before.

Translation by Laurie Thompson.

Early Swedish edition of Dagsedlar.