Wednesday, 22 May 2019

HCA: 'Kartoflerne'

The Potatoes

‘Sooner or later, whatever is good will be respected and revered!’ Grandma said. ‘Just bear in mind the potatoes – they could say a thing or two about that, provided they could speak, of course!’

They had certainly experienced not being appreciated. It didn’t even help when the minister preached from the pulpit that they were both useful and a source of delight – people simply didn’t believe it; even kings handed them out so they could be put down, but were they ever? Dear me, no! There was, to name but one, the great King of Prussia, who people called Old Fritz – now there was a man for you! – he took good care of the potatoes too, gave away a whole cartload to one of the towns in his kingdom and had everyone summoned to the town square to the sounding of the drum; the town council, no less, had to show people the new vegetable, and instructions were read out as to how it was to be planted, tended and prepared. But it all went in one ear and out the other – people didn’t understand what was being read out, and went straight ahead and took a bite of the raw potatoes. ‘Ugh, how terrible they taste!’ they said and threw them into the gutter, where they could see that not even the dogs would eat them. But there actually were some people who were willing to give it a try, and some of them stuck their potatoes into the ground, one here and one there, and waited for a tree to grow up so they could shake potatoes from it; others threw the whole lot into a big hole, where they all got tangled up into one great lump and went into leaf.
– The next year the king had to start all over again, but the idea only sank in very slowly. – ‘The same there as here!’ said Grandma. ‘People have failed to appreciate the best vegetable that’s ever come our way! But now the potatoes can stand on their own two feet! – Now they are appreciated. Whatever is good will be respected and revered, sooner or later!’

How often, when faced with much of what seems to have to suffer so badly in the world, have I not thought of the potatoes and Grandma’s words.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Schack Staffeldt: 'Indvielsen'


I sat far out on the sound’s still shore,
     The heavens smiling;
And filled with longing I gazed down o’er
     The waves beguiling.
The sun slipped into the sea’s embrace,
The coast and sky found a blushing grace.

With sweet foreboding a harp I heard,
     The clouds now rending;
The muse descended, in sunlight girt,
     Her lyre extending.
Sealing my lips with kiss of fire
She plunged into her glittering pyre.

Then all around me the world was new:
     The winds spoke softly;
From pale clouds drifting before the moon
     Called spirits lofty;
In all creation a loving heart beat,
My own reflection from all did me greet.

Since then the earth each thought and desire
     Does now emprison;
Though longing is eased by dream, plucked lyre
     And premonition,
The kiss still consumes me, no peace will see birth
Until the heavens are brought to earth!

Monday, 20 May 2019

Schack von Staffeldt: 'Aftenrøden'

                       SUNSET GLOW

       Rose held in a vase of clearest glaze
Up from wat’ry sunlight-grave ascending
       Every time from nature’s mourning gaze
Her close friend to other worlds is wending!

       Moon’s pale visage, in lone blush for you,
Dares observe your crimson petal cluster;
       Heavens’ stars maintain their distant view,
Lovers, though with silent, hidden lustre.

       Beauteous heav’nly flower of light and air,
Of the purest ones a holy daughter!
       Evening garners all spring’s fragrance fair
In your crimson calyx as an altar.

       Night, alas, advances from the east,
Its domain so stealthily diffusing;
       Heav’nly rose! for eyes though still a feast,
You anon dull petals must be losing.

       Roses! your sweet sister’s life is told,
Weep in tribute dear your dew of mourning!
       Larks! rejoice when you again behold
Hope’s sweet rose on eastern peaks of morning!

First published in Nye Digte, Den academiske Boghandling, Kiel, 1808

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Morten Søndergaard: Poem from 'Vinci, later'


Last night I got the answer to
       what goes on at Swan Mill.
There is a machine there to mechanically debone swans,
for swan meat tastes good.
       But according to a doctoral thesis
I apparently had written about the subject
there is not much meat on a swan.
Most of it is eustatic
I explained during my defence,
without wondering about that word.
The meat is chopped fine with the aid of oblique
rotating knives, the so-called cutters,
       and the intestines are emptied in long trails of sea grass.
Afterwards, the carcass is hoisted up by its webbed feet
       and driven off for incineration.
Then the surroundings changed.
The foreman began to explain
       about the new political situation,
the rules for offside and the recipe for mock turtle.
I was to read out a poem,
but had the feeling
       that the things that took place
were part of a socio-psychological experiment,
and that those responsible for the experiment
were themselves part of a socio-psychological experiment.
       It is reality on all channels.

To see the entire collection in translation, go to here.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

August Strindberg: 'Göken' in English translation


När ängarne börja blomma,
Och björken lövas i lund,
Då sjunger göken i skogen
Båd arla- och särlastund.

När lien gått fram på ängen
Och blomstren ligga på bår,
Då tystnar göken i skogen,
Och tiger tills åter blir vår.

Men bönderna tro han är döder,
Och barnen tro han blir hök,
En kärng har hört honom skratta;
Han är för besatter den gök.

I marknan vid tyska torget,
Hos urmakar Schnabelbart
Där kan du få köpa gökar
Som gala båd timme och kvart.

De gala till jul och påska
De gala med urets lopp,
Om blott de smörjas i munnen
Och verket dras riktigt opp.

The cuckoo

When the flowers appear in the meadows,
And the birch trees leaf in the bower,
The cuckoo will sing in the forest
At both morning and evening hour.

When the scythes have swept through the meadow
And the flowers all lie on their bier,
The cuckoo is mute in the forest
And stays silent till spring is near.

But the farmers believe he’s dead now
And kids he’ll turn into a hawk,
An old crone has heard him just laughing;
His call is then more like a squawk.

At the German square’s weekly market,
At clockmaker Schnabelbart’s stall
Are cuckoos for sale that will call out
Four times every hour, one and all.

They call out at Christmas and Easter
They call as the clocks tick away,
If their throats are greased as they should be
And the clocks wound up once a day.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Emma Crebolder: 'Mijn kleine tijd'


He prowls around in every tongue
my fox, as renard or mbweha,
he was foha, he was puccha–.
His name became story and
his story name. In Japan he
rose to Fox God, Inari.

To the highest, to
the lowest. I follow him
hounded on by fear
and pleasure. Name
and feel him my little time,
my plunder, my bounty.

To see the original poem, go to here.

HCA: 'I Danmark er jeg født' (all four verses)

I Danmark er jeg født, der har jeg hjemme,
der har jeg rod, derfra min verden går.
Du danske sprog, du er min moders stemme,
så sødt velsignet du mit hjerte når.
Du danske friske strand,
hvor oldtids kæmpegrave
står mellem æblegård og humlehave,
dig elsker jeg! - Danmark, mit fædreland!

Hvor reder sommeren vel blomstersengen
mer rigt end her, ned til den åbne strand?
Hvor står fuldmånen over kløverengen
så dejlig, som i bøgens fædreland?
Du danske friske strand,
hvor Dannebrogen vajer, -
Gud gav os den - Gud giv den bedste sejer! -
Dig elsker jeg! - Danmark, mit fædreland!

Engang du herre var i hele Norden,
bød over England, - nu du kaldes svag,
et lille land, og dog så vidt om jorden
end høres danskens sang og mejselslag.
Du danske, friske strand,
plovjernet guldhorn finder,
Gud giv dig fremtid, som han gav dig minder!
Dig elsker jeg! - Danmark, mit fædreland!

Du land, hvor jeg blev født, hvor jeg har hjemme,
hvor jeg har rod, hvorfra min verden går,
hvor sproget er min moders bløde stemme,
og som en sød musik mit hjerte når!
Du danske friske strand
med vilde svaners rede,
I grønne øer, mit hjertes hjem hernede,
dig elsker jeg! - Danmark, mit fædreland!

In Denmark I was born, my home’s no other,
here lie my roots, my world spreads out from here.
You Danish tongue, your voice is of a mother,
and you’re my heart so wonderfully near.
You bracing Danish strand,
where ancient barrows slumber
midst hops and apple orchards without number,
you are my love! – Denmark, my native land!

Where else does summer strew as rich a cover
of meadow-flowers, down to the open strand?
Where is the full moon over fields of clover 
as bright as in the beech’s native land?
You bracing Danish strand,
where Dannebrog flies surely, –
God’s gift to us, – God give us might and glory! –
You are my love! – Denmark, my native land!

You once held sway o’er all the Nordic region,
ruled over England, – now you are deemed weak,
though small, your songs and chisel-blows are legion
and still throughout the world are heard to speak.
You bracing Danish strand,
the plough unearths your gold horn,
God grant you future life, your past now full-born!
You are my love! – Denmark, my native land!

You land where I was born, my home – no other,
where my roots lie: my world spreads out from here.
Your language is the soft voice of a mother
that to my heart is music sweet and dear.
You bracing Danish strand,
where wild swans do their nesting,
you verdant isles, the home where my heart’s resting,
you are my love! – Denmark, my native land!

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson: 'Haren og ræven'

Haren og ræven

Og ræven lå under birkerod
bortved lynget.
Og haren hopped på lette fod
over lynget.
Det er vel noget til solskinsdag!
det glitrer for, og det glitrer bag
over lynget.

Og ræven lo under birkerod
bortved lynget.
Og haren hopped i vilde mod
over lynget.
Jeg er så glad over alle ting!
hu – hej, gør du slige svære spring
over lynget?

Og ræven vented bag birkerod
bortved lynget.
Og haren tumled ham midt imod
over lynget.
Men Gud forbarme sig, er du der! – –
– Å, kære, hvor tør du danse her
over lynget?

The hare and the fox

The fox he lay ’neath the birch-tree root
by the heather.
The hare she scuttled with agile foot
o’er the heather.
The day’s plain sunshine I do declare!
it’s shining here there and everywhere
o’er the heather.

The fox he grinned ’neath the birch-tree root
by the heather.
The hare she scuttled and off did shoot
o’er the heather.
I’m so delighted at everything
shoo-hay, can you match such leaps and springs
o’er the heather?

The fox lay still at the birch-tree root
by the heather.
The hare she tumbled right to his foot
o’er the heather.
But goodness gracious, can that be you! – –
– My dear, and dare you be dancing too
o’er the heather?

August Strindberg: 'Taga rävar.'

      Taking foxes

The taking of foxes is quite an art
though hardly a gentle pursuit. 
Hunting with hounds across fields isn’t smart
for a poor man to try for the brute,
since that calls for a lot of expensive gear
apart from the fact the fox has the habit
of not crossing fields in the open, hides near
to thick bushes to ambush a rabbit.
Instead, one takes carrion – some dead bod
that’s lain for a while and stinks highly –
sufficiency rotten to tempt a tod,
who, though he is cunning and wily,
finds quite irresistible such a strong taste.
The carrion though with strychnine’s been laced,
a poison that pharmacists sell in the main,
one that medicines often contain.