Saturday, 1 October 2016

Svante No. 3 song



SVANTE IN THE DEPARTMENT STORE

Often in shops of a quite normal size
Terror and panic I cannot disguise.
But when a department store’s doors I pass through
my self-discipline is put under the screw.

Here there’s too much, it’s all here by default,
from fine grand pianos to coarsest sea salt.
I came here for something I had to procure,
but what it was I’m completely unsure.

Soon all the goods start to swim past my eyes.
Both my ears roar. And my tongue changes size.
I point at things blindly before all goes black.
Pay up and frantically hurry off back.

Off to a pub where two beers and three snaps
save me from what would be instant collapse.
Then home to unpack what’s now in my string bag
though gooseflesh is all I can call my swag.

Never a thing I can put to some use.
Strange home utensils distinctly abstruse.
What shall I do with shoes too small by far,
a fine silver rattle and small-chequered bra?

Among the absurd things I now catalogue:
one warm dog’s blanket, but minus the dog.
A garden hose, but no flower bed in sight.
I wonder if this will go on all night –

Help! Give me strength! I am tempted anew
to the store’s bargain sale’s hullabaloo;
I waver and quaver and buy like a fool
a kennel, a topee – a whole swimming pool...

This is my evidence poignant and clear:
Wonderful bargains have all cost me dear.
So bind me, watch over me, dull me with wine,
and save me from sales and a total decline!




Friday, 30 September 2016

Svante No.2 song

SVANTE’S DRINKING SONG

Night is so cold.
Life is so short.
Friends move out further
off than they ought.
My tongue’s all mouldy, my soul’s lost its pep.
And each time I move it’s a backward step
You must just keep your spirits primed.
I am drunk and I’m feeling fine.

Cobbles for bread.
Traffic like shears.
Zips and not buttons.
Music that sears.
Stars that are sooty and grins that don’t fit
and porter and belches and aquavit.
You must just keep your spirits primed.
I am drunk and I’m feeling fine.

Tiredness and tears.
Shouts like coarse rope.
Hands quite rejected.
Hope without hope.
Toothache. Insomnia. Gastric distress.
But life’s worth a hangover still, I guess.
You must just keep your spirits primed.
I am drunk and I’m feeling fine.




Thursday, 29 September 2016

The opening song of 'Svantes viser' in English


LITTLE SONG FOR NINA

My life is but a can of beer,
Deposit paid am I,
except when you are oh so near,
you envoy from on high.

My navel’s flab, my belly’s girth,
whose growth I daily fear,
you swear are things of greatest worth –
to me you’re always dear!

But how can ever I extol
your figure without flaw?
I drink your body of its soul
in hipflask swigs galore.

You are my life, my daily bread,
You are my dearest dear.
I’m but a bloke who’s overfed,
who’s standing far too near.

I know that this is of the past.
Another’s your sweet dear.
But you have taught me love at last,
to me you’re always near.


Thursday, 22 September 2016

A Ballad by Lars Gustafsson

Ballad on the paths in Västmanland

Beneath the visible writing of small roads,
gravelled roads, farm tracks, often with a comb
of grass in the middle between deep wheel ruts,
hidden beneath clear-felling’s tangle of brushwood,
still legible in the dried-up moss,
there is another script: the old paths.
They go from lake to lake, from valley
to valley. At times they deepen,
become quite distinct, and large bridges
of medieval stone carry them over black streams
at times they are dissipated over bare flat rocks,
one easily loses them in marshy ground, so
imperceptible that at one moment they are there,
the next not. There is a continuation,
there is always a continuation, as long as
one looks for it, these paths are persistent,
they know what they want and with their knowledge
they combine considerable cunning.
You walk eastwards, the compass persistently shows east,
the path faithfully follows the compass, like a straight line,
everything is in order, then the path swings northwards.
In the north lies nothing. What does the path want now?
Soon you come to a huge bog, and the path knew that.
It leads us around, with the reassurance of one
who has been this way before. It knows where the bog lies,
it knows where the rockface gets far too steep, it knows
what happens when it goes north instead of south
of the lake. It has done all of this
so many times previously. That is the whole point
of being a path. That it has been done
before. Who made the path? Charcoal burners, fishermen,
women with skinny arms collecting firewood?
Outlaws, timid and grey as the moss,
still in their dream with the fratricide blood
on their hands. Autumnal hunters in the wake
of trusty foxhounds with their frost-clear bark?
All and none of them. We make it together,
you too make it on a windy day when
it is early or late on the earth:
We write the paths, and the paths remain,
and the paths are wiser than we are,
and know all we wanted to know.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Seamus Heaney's poem 'The peninsula' in Danish

halvøen

Når du ingenting mere har at sige, så brug bare
En dag til at køre hele halvøen rundt,
Himlen er høj som over en landingsbane,
Landskabet uden vartegn, så du vil ikke ankomme
Men passere igennem, dog altid langs med landkendinger.
Ved skumringen suger horisonter hav og bakke til sig,
Pløjmarken sluger den hvidkalkede gavl
Og du er atter i mørket. Genkald dig nu
Den glaserede forstrand og tømmerstokkens silhuet.
Denne klippe hvor brodsøer blev revet i laser,
De langbenede fugle styltede på deres egne ben,
Øer der rider sig selv ud i tågen.
Kør så hjem igen, stadig med ingenting at sige
Bortset fra at du nu vil afkode alle landskaber
Gennem dette; ting alene grundede på deres egne former
Vand og jord i deres yderligheder.

To see the original poem, go to here


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Andersen yet again - The Windmill

The Windmill

A windmill once stood on a hill, a proud sight and proud of itself:
‘I’m not really proud!’ it said, ‘but I am very enlightened, both outside and in. I have the sun and moon for both outside and inside use, and then I also have wax candles, a train-oil lamp and tallows; so I can justly claim to be enlightened – I am a thinking being and so shapely that I am a joy to behold. I have a fine grinder in my chest, I have four wings that sit high up on my head, just under my cap; birds only have two and have to carry them on their backs. I am Dutch by birth, as can be seen from my form – a Flying Dutchman, considered to be supernatural, I know, yet I myself am most natural. I have a gallery round my midriff and living quarters below – that is where my thoughts reside. My most powerful thought, the one that rules and governs, is referred to by the other thoughts as: the Guv at the Mill. He knows what he wants, he stands high above flour and grain, although he has a spouse and she’s called the Missus – she has a kindly heart, does not do things in a hare-brained fashion; she too knows what she wants, she knows what she is able to do, she is as mild as a breath of air, she is as strong as a gale; she understands how to feel her way forward, to get what she wants. She is the softer side of my nature, the Guv is my harder side; they are two and yet two of a kind – they also refer to each other as ‘my better half’. The two of them have youngsters – small thoughts capable of growing. These youngsters make such a racket! The other day, I wisely let the ‘Guv’ and his assistants take a look at the grinder and wheel in my chest, I wanted to know what was wrong, for there was something wrong inside me, and one must search within oneself to find the cause, the youngsters made such a racket, which is not at all in order when, like me, one stands high up on a hill; one must always remember that one is illuminated: one’s reputation is also a form of illumination. But what I wanted to say was that the toddlers were making such a racket. The smallest of them climbed right up into my cap and sang away so much that it tickled. Small thoughts are capable of growing, I have sensed that, and thoughts also come from outside that are not of my kith and kin, for I can see none of them as far as I gaze, none except myself; but the wingless houses, where the grinder cannot be heard, they too have thoughts, they come to my thoughts and strike up a relationship with them, as they call it. Strangely enough, yes, it really is very strange. Something has come over me or inside me – a change to the millwork, it is as if the Guv had exchanged his better half, acquired an even gentler mind, an even more loving spouse, so young and pious and yet the same, but more gentle, more devout as time goes on. All that was bitter has evaporated – it is all most agreeable. Days come and go, always moving forwards in clarity and happiness, and then, yes it’s been both said and written, then a day will come when things are over and done with for me, and yet not completely so! I am to be pulled down so as to rise up new and better; I am to cease to be and yet continue to exist! become someone completely different and yet remain the same! it is hard to understand, no matter how enlightened I am, thanks to sun, moon, candles, oil lamp and tallows! my old timber and brickwork will rise again from the dust. I hope that I will retain the same thoughts: the Guv at the mill, the Missus, the older and younger ones, the family – that is what I call the whole of it, one and yet so many, the entire company of thoughts, for I cannot do without them! and I am also to remain myself, with a grinder in my chest, wings on my head, a gallery round my midriff, otherwise I will not be able to recognise myself, and nor will the others know me and say, ah, there’s the mill on the hill, a proud sight and yet not proud at all!
So said the mill, and a lot more besides, but this was the most important.
And the days came and went, and the final one was the last.
The mill caught fire – the flames soared up, shot out, shot in, licked beams and planks, devoured them completely. The mill collapsed, there was only a heap of ashes left; the smoke drifted over the scene of the fire, the wind carried it away.
All those that had been alive at the mill were still there, nothing happened to them as a result of the incident, in fact they gained from it. The miller’s family, one soul, many thoughts and yet only one, acquired a lovely new mill that served them well, it completely resembled the old one. People said: look, there stands the mill on the hill, a proud sight! but this one was better equipped, more up to date, for things move forwards. The old timber, which was worm-eaten and spongy, lay in the dust and ashes; the mill shell did not rise up as it had thought; it had taken things completely literally, and one should not take everything completely literally!