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Gullberg was born in Malmö, Skåne. As a student at Lund University, he was the editor of the student magazine Lundagård. He was the manager of the Swedish Radio Theatre 1936-1950. In 1940 he was made a member of the Swedish Academy, and he also became an honorary doctor of philosophy at Lund University (1944).
As a friend of composer Lars-Erik Larsson he wrote the libretto of the religious (tonal) lyrical suite God in Disguise. Gullberg, often described as a "black" (i.e. using heavy but controlled emotions) poet, revealed a somewhat surprising and brighter and less melancholic side to his artistry in God in Disguise.
God in Disguise ends with these following phrases:
"Bids us a human eye his silent fiest of love; us distant and slow as men are most,
puts, as heavenly healing för deep wounds of souls, a friend, freed from astuteness, his hands in ours,
See we a sunray linger in our bed of torment -then in disguise sits a God at your side"
"God in Disguise" refers to an underlying theme in the cycle meaning that on Earth there is God walking amongst us, but as he is in disguise (living the life of an ordinary person) we have difficulties identifying him. Thus it takes a lot from a person to be able to make changes in one´s mentality in order to become someone who can recognize the god amongst us.
Basic Christian beliefs thus become the bearer of the mission of the musical work itself.
Gullberg committed suicide at Yddingesjön, Skåne.
- I en främmande stad (1927)
- Sonat (1929)
- Andliga övningar (1932)
- Kärlek i tjugonde seklet (1933)
- Ensamstående bildad herre. Tragicomic verse. (1935)
- Att övervinna världen (1937)
- 100 dikter; a selection from six volumes of verse (1939)
- Röster från Skansen (1941)
- Fem kornbröd och två fiskar (1942; includes Död amazon)
- Hymn till ett evakuerat Nationalmuseum (1942)
- Den heliga natten (1951)
- Dödsmask och lustgård (1952)
- Terziner i okonstens tid (1958)
- Ögon, läppar (1959)
- 50 dikter; a selection from three volumes of verse with an introduction by Carl Fehrman (1961)
- Gentleman, Single, Refined and selected poems, 1937 - 1959 by Hjalmar Gullberg and Judith Moffett. Louisiana State University Press, 1979.
- En anständig och ömklig comoedia. A play in three acts by Hjalmar Gullberg and Olle Holmberg (published 1984)
- Kärleksdikter (first edition with this title published 1967)
- Dikter. With an epilogue by Anders Palm (1985)
Selected translations and interpretations of other writers' work
- Aristophanes: Fåglarna (The Birds) (1928)
- Euripides: Hippolytos (Hippolytus) (1930)
- Euripides: Medea (1931)
- Aristophanes: Lysistrate (Lysistrata) (1932)
- Eurypides: Alkestis (Alcestis) (1933)
- Sophocles: Antigone (1935)
- Molière: Den girige (L'Avare/The Miser) (1935)
- Calderón: Spökdamen (La Dama Duende/The Phantom Lady) (1936)
- Alfred de Musset: Lek ej med kärleken (On ne badine pas avec l'amour) (1936)
- Gabriela Mistral: Dikter (1945)
- Federico García Lorca: Blodsbröllop (Bodas de sangre) (1946)
- Gabriela Mistral: Den heliga vägen (1949)
- Molière: Den inbillade sjuke (Le Malade imaginaire/The Hypochondriac) (translated for Sveriges Radio 1954)
- Gåsmors sagor (1955)
- Själens dunkla natt and other interpretations of foreign lyrics (1956)
- Aeschylus: Agamemnon (1960)
- Franskt 1600-tal (published posthumously in 1962 with an introduction by Olle Holmberg)
- William Shakespeare: Köpmannen i Venedig (The Merchant of Venice) (1964)
- William Shakespeare: Som ni behagar (As You Like It) (1964)
- (Swedish) The Hjalmar Gullberg Society