Thursday, 30 October 2014

A 30 October poem from Klaus Høeck's '1001 poems'

  hints tips and good ad
  vice to a young po
et ‘ ‘it sounds so beautiful’
  i said - ‘does lofty
  poetry but po
etry is only lofty
to the same extent as life
  is denigrated
  and debased’ - i said
‘poetry ought to be more
  like a turnip in
  its fat fertile soil’

Friday, 24 October 2014

One more Thor Sørheim poem

step by step

Step by step I distanced myself from the table lamp
which was transformed into a gleaming circle down there
in the hall, and the black patent leather shoes pointed their noses
open-mouthed towards the doormat. At the top of the stairs
I had come as far up beneath the sky
as it was possible to come. The world fell into place

on the dark ceiling in the shadow of solid tiers of joists
and bent piping, as at a museum
where all the artefacts are marked with labels
that state origin, properties and how long they
have been in use. For many a long year I collected dogmatics
in stiff archive boxes, for I had forgotten

that the world is there to be misunderstood, and that people try
as best they can to act in good doubt. I suddenly yearned
back to the smell of the socks with holes in the wardrobe,
the wet raincoats hung up to dry, the gleaming elegies
of the posters. Step by step I calmly descended
with my hand firmly gripping a perplexed banister.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Poem by the little-known Swedish writer Gunnar Mascoll Silfverstolpe (1893-1942)

End of the summer holidays

This was the time our pockets all hung low
with fall-clipped fruit now smeared with streaks of clay.
This was the time the garden candles’ glow
lit up the crayfish dish with quivering ray.
It almost felt too cold to take a swim,
and cobwebs draped themselves round scrub and fern.
When too the last hay had been taken in,
the sky was chill and clear, the wind quite stern.

These were the days when grudgingly one weighed
each hour till summer’s quota had been filled.
This was the time when every hour displayed
an inner force that was to be distilled.
And yet at times one left all play behind
sought out a hill where it was good to lie
and with a ten-year-old’s dark-musing mind
observe the swallows’ flight and clouds file by.

One evening, with the wooden houses burnished
a glowing crimson by the sun, one left –
holding the farewell gift that summer furnished,
a bag of Astrakhans, clasped to one’s chest.
One rode off to the station, tearful-eyed,
while crickets, drunk with joy, still chirped and squealed
their final summer notes on every side
from what were empty, cattle-trampled fields.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Alle Menschen müssen sterben


Alle Menschen müssen sterben,
Alles Fleisch vergeht wie Heu;
Was da lebet, muß verderben,
Soll es anders werden neu.
Dieser Leib, der muß verwesen,
Wenn er anders soll genesen
Der so großen Herrlichkeit,
Die den Frommen ist bereit.

All on earth must end by dying,
All of flesh are but as hay;
What lives here must dead be lying,
Shall it rise anew some day.
Only since it has to perish
Can the body hope to cherish
Glory such as is reserved
Those who have devoutly served.

Entry 1000 - the Dutch poet Gerrit Komrij's 'The Ox on the Bell-Tower'

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Poem series by the Dutch writer Frank Koenegracht



FIRST, old-man freshwater guide, first
you stood fairly straight
in your boat with pennies
in post-war light.

Your idiotic brother scratched at night
in vain at the varnish
for no one inside
was allowed to recall

how you could have been.
Well, he’s still alive for
I saw him recently.
Still alive.

Then, old-man freshwater guide, then
a hole was punched
in your stomach as
big as an afternoon’s fishing,

but you rode right through it
on your solex and went on living.
The rest is bread and milk, beef
on Sundays and their collected works.

Now, old-man freshwater guide,
now you’ve got me
but then again not. I’m
not much of an angler

and I snow or rise a bit
and I always see everything small.
As small as you saw things
through your sight-glass of jenever.

Come on, let’s go piking and anyone
seeing us standing there will think:
that son doesn’t fish
far from his father.


LITTLE by little my father’s forgotten
all that he knew just a moment ago.

His brains are birds that go flitting past.
No cows that leave an impression in the earth.

My father was fond of clouds,
but clouds are forgetful mountains

and leave no impression in the sky
and no one will blame them for that.

Blaming won’t help anyway for
clouds do not know what they do.


HE addressed all his colleagues
and all birds alike.
Such is the gentleness of a man.
Starlings, big chickens, sparrows
were all lads.
To a blackbird in the garden he said:
what’s up then me’lad
but it was really to me.


ACROSS the sky sailed sedate mountains.
My father seemed fond of those things
and their strange communications
hanging above the houses, the bridges and the hedges.
And above the stretches of water where the fish were. At times
you had to be on the lookout for it,
just as for managers.


SOMEBODY must have slandered him
otherwise he would not stand so strangely in the room,
so leaden.

The law said that fishing with live bait was prohibited.
My father said: I have always treated
whitefish decently, lad, never a hook
in their back, always in their mouth.

Somebody must have slandered him.


SO THIS is my father.
Slow enough and carelessly protected
wearing trousers of forty-eight guilders
hoisted all the way to his tits
unmessably high and unbearably light.


CLOSE BY two or three feet away hovers
a tiny 14 x 26 cm plane, blue-grey
with red edges round it,
controlled by a helpless little woman
that’s easily put together
out of what’s left from a ball of wool, stockings,
a small necklace.

Although everyone’s asleep and has laid down
their weapons the atmosphere can be cut with a knife.

Against the window trails the yellowed land snail.


I HAVE myself never
wanted to be a doomed poet, but
my father with the gentlest glee would
definitely have forbidden it
He was against any stumbling
into the wrong rented house
but above all against unrecognisedness.

He realised that unrecognisedness
is a way of being mistaken.


AND THE wind took its rest
and the evening fell and the rain
crept gently over the fields.

It’ll be a calm twilight, we said,   
a porcelain evening and old-lady night

will soon be here with her big feet
and her small face.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Another Sørheim poem from the 'Vintereika' collection


Ever since the first cries were heard on earth
we’ve had a thumb in the pie. We drew
bull’s heads in caves before aiming at the heart, grasped
the plough firmly and felt the force we could exploit
when we stuck our palm in the waterfall. The wheel rolled
in time with the terrain, we studied the ice that split
the rock and the atoms that smashed reason. We learnt
to master fire, earth, air, and sent scouts out
on missions beyond the rim of our own atmosphere.
We encompass the whole universe, but have never got
a proper explanation as to why fish
chose to live in the sea.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

A poem by the Afrikaans writer Wilma Stockenström


Eendag toe hou die skepper
sy skepping soos 'n kind 'n skoelapper
op sy hand, en bibberend
spalt die gebrandskilderde vlerke.
Magtig die kleure wat gloei soos godhede

gloei, oop, toe, met groot
vertoon, die vlerke vir dag en nag.
Die skepper voel nog die pootjies
fyntjies op sy vingers en wonder
oor wat hy vermag het: oopvou

van 'n al, goudstofoortrekte lig,
en soos skeppendes maar is, bedink
hy, trots en nederig, nog ene,
nog 'n lieflike ligsinnige vlinder,
herhaaldelik, die ewigheid ter wille.


One day the creator held
his creation like a child a butterfly
in his hand, and quivering
the enamelled wings parted.
Wondrous the colours that glowed as deities

glowed, open, shut, with great
display, the wings for day and night.
The creator still feels the small feet
delicately on his fingers and is astonished
at what he has been capable of: the unfolding

of an everything, gold-dust-covered light,
and as it is with creators, he
conceives, proud and humble, one more
one more such lovely, light-hearted butterfly,
repeatedly, for the sake of eternity.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Another two from Thor Sørheim

the sound crossing-point

East is east, and the first to cross the river
probably had ice under their feet. West is west,
and the sound-man was obliged to ferry people
over to the far side, from east to west,
and from west to east. People passing the thalweg
mid-river felt secure at having
solid ground under their feet on both shores.
For east is east, and west is west,
and we always hear the cry from
the far side.


When I look at the photograph of my father
sitting slightly sprawled out on a bench in the back garden
he grew up in, a place I often visit
so as to walk in the same streets, study the erect
frontages and stroll in the inlaid parks he used to play in,

it strikes me that the young boy with the mop of
blond hair and the bright eyes must have been a dreamer.
A stranger maybe in this neighbourhood where gangs
stood on every street corner ready to intervene
if anyone dared venture across invisible borders.

Borders that I do not know, but he perhaps
did. In the yellowing picture I have seen of him his
gaze betrays nothing of how streetwise he was.
On the contrary, he is looking towards something far off,
perhaps the kitchen window on the third floor, or Ekeberg Hill.

To look at the photo of my father from the time he was a paperboy
reminds me that he was the one who taught me
to cross the street diagonally, at full pelt towards the traffic.
This gave those driving in the next lane a bit more time
to brake, so as not to attack us from behind.

Totgesagt oder totgemacht? The joys of hineininterpretieren.

Am Schluss des Gedichtes steht die Aufforderung, alles Gesammelte "leicht im herbstlichen gesicht" zu "verwinden"(V.12). Denkbar ist, dass die Chiffre "gesicht" (V.12) im Sinne einer Vision zu verstehen ist: Der wahre Künstler - Kranzflechter - versteht es mit seinem geistigen Auge über die gewöhnliche Wirklichkeit hinauszublicken, sie also nicht nur abzubilden. Damit gewänne der letzte Imperativ des Gedichts - "Verwinde" (V.12) - eine interessante Doppeldeutigkeit. Zum einen wäre mit ihm die Fertigstellung des Kunstwerks zum Ausdruck gebracht, zum anderen könnte er auch so verstanden werden, dass der das irdische Dasein belastende Gegensatz von Leben und Vergänglichkeit vom sensiblen Künstler -und nur von ihm- "verwunden" - im Sinne von "ertragen" oder "überwunden" - werden kann.