A selection of portraits. Ett urval porträtt ur "Romantiken i mitt liv". Till bilderna >>
Excerpt 1 - Tony Landberg >>      Utdrag 1 - Tony Landberg >>

Sverker ÅströmShare   

Heavenly passion I have not experienced

Sverker Åström ©Ewa Rudling I was in service with Sweden's Ministry for Foreign Affairs for fifty years and lived abroad for thirty-five. I became interested in Sweden abroad and started to collect antiquities of Swedish origin in Russia, the USA, the UK and France, for example. There is a certain romanticism attaching to these antiquities as they shed light on some aspects of Sweden's history.

I found a typical Swedish, very rare, wall timepiece in New York, with the case delicately carved in gilded wood. My clock has been ticking and striking since the middle of the seventeenth century. That is romantic. For many years I collected silver crafted in St Petersburg by Swedish masters. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the majority of the silversmiths in St Petersburg were Swedes.

My six years in New York were exciting. Right in the middle of the greatness of the architecture,
the city is romantic. When it comes to customs, food or objects there is everything.

Both New York and Paris are fascinating. All of France's history is reflected in  the architecture of Paris.

I have exclusively loved men. I have had some happy relations, but they were all  sporadic and of short duration. The relationships have never developed into the true partnership that, with the new  legislation, I would have been able to legalize. With increasing age I can sometimes say to myself, that unanswered love may keep best in  the long run and give a greater amount of life experience and self control.

Being homosexual fifty years  ago and at the present time are two very different experiences. Fifty years ago homosexuality was a matter of forbidden love and generally considered as  morally dubious. But for me, living in two worlds has never been a problem. When I moved in one world, the other did not exist. With a certain satisfaction I have noted that the double life gives us interesting experiences, as one observes events, glances and  coincidences that others do not notice.

There was much talk of blackmail. So, in respect of my positions  in the Foreign Office, I was specially on my guard and careful to inform my political masters,  Erlander, Undén and Palme, of my disposition. They shrugged their shoulders. Recently society's tolerance  has increased dramatically and appropriate legalization has been put in place. But  prejudice has not disappeared; it is merely less openly declared nowadays.

Love is like the measles, we all have to suffer through it. But, unlike measles love does not make you immune to relapse. I have experienced love many times and, perhaps, sometimes been loved myself. But a  heavenly passion of the kind written and sung about for thousands of  years in literature I have not experienced and therefore have missed an  ocean of feelings, joy and ecstasy, as well as suffering and  deceptions.  You cannot recapture that when you are old. An obvious difference between friendship and love is that the first almost by definition demands reciprocity. If you believe  otherwise you will be cruelly disappointed. There is a group of  friends you never lose; friends who are always available for  conversation. These are the books and certain other works of art, which  deliver emotional and intellectual stimuli comparable to  the company of friends.

I find increasing pleasure in returning to the classics. They have, after all,  become classics precisely because they are so good.  And I am moved by an  endless melancholy when I listen to the second movement, the Andantino,  in Schubert's A-major sonata, wrestling between violent uproar  and humble submission.

A painful price that I have had to pay is the absence of a family and,  with age and despite a great number of friends, a growing loneliness.  Children I have always missed. And in my pessimistic moments I believe  that the only being that loves me unconditionally is my cat Dusjka. But those moments are rare.

home forewords views Swedish artists stars cities skansen toys writers covers text ewa shop Links contact