Friday, 12 February 2016

A poem by the Swedish writer Nils Ferlin, published in 1930

stjärnorna kvittar det lika

Man kan inte räkna dem alla
sägner och sånt man hör...
Det sägs att en stjärna ska falla
var gång när en människa dör.

Lyhörd i nätternas kyla
och vindarnas frusna musik
hundarna hörde jag yla,
som hundarna yla för lik,

änkorna hörde jag skrika
och barnen snyfta för bröd –
Stjärnorna kvitta det lika
om någon är född eller död.

stars do not care even mildly

Don’t count on six out of seven,
legends and such may be lies...
It’s said that a star falls from heaven
each time here on earth someone dies.

Clearly through nights’ coldness straying
with winds’ music frozen anew
dogs in the dark I heard baying,
as dogs around corpses can do,

widows I heard wailing wildly
and children sobbing for bread –
Stars do not care even mildly
if someone is born or is dead.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

'Smerte' - a poem from 1943 by the Danish writer Morten Nielsen


Soft candles flicker in the rain, but such our hands are spurning,
and we no longer will accept those chestnut candles’ burning,
for we have tried to one more time, and know the final turning.

When our two minds a second time each other would have known,
there was then nothing else than worthless words to call our own.
You’re walking by my side and yet you’re walking there alone.

For there is nothing left at all that we’re allowed to give.
Soft candles flicker in the rain, but have not long to live.
And our eyes gleam in that same void as empty as a sieve.

For you are there, and I am here, and that is all things’ aching:
And mutely earth finds by the rain its green deep heart is waking,
but we can find no way inside, and that is all things’ aching.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

A cheerful thought for the day, from Klaus Høeck

       i became old to
DAY i’ve been that for a long
       time but it wasn’t

       until today i
understood it – i don’t know
       quite why it was pre

       cisely today – i
just realised it perhaps
       it’s because my wife

       no longer contra
dicts me when i say to her:
       i have become old

Sunday, 7 February 2016

A religious poem (hymn) from none other than Hans Christian Andersen


I have a fear as ne’er before,
As if I stood at Death’s dread door
And needs must enter and plunge down
In dark and lonely realms to drown;
Storm’s might would seize me constantly:
O Lord, o Lord, keep hold of me!

All evil in me comes from me,
All good that I have done from Thee;
What others owe me I write down,
What I owe others I disown;
How well each day I seek to trace
That which enhances my own case.

I shall be trodden by Death’s heel
Before my soul true joy can feel.
The Lord’s Prayer, like the dove-held leaf,
Lay on my tongue to banish grief.
If God I have not, what have I
When this world’s over and I die!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

An early poem by the Swedish writer Lars Gustafsson

A mysterious disappearance

It is written: In March 1858 a man,
resident of Gnarp, which is a remote hamlet,
bought bullets, cord and powder for a smallish sum,
one noted down that thus can still be read.
Probably he wanted to shoot courting black grouse.

The trail now disappears among the pines,
here we lose sight of him,
not temporarily but for good,
and every hope that he exists there,
like a dark and threadbare figure,
still on his way across bogs, through cowberry sprigs,
and that we one morning could meet him, is futile.

You must understand me, consider this:
We will never get to know who he was,
and if our face just for a moment,
late one evening when tiredness loosens the bindings,
and lets us see that we are no one or are everyone,
were to absorb his features into its own, his eyes,
we would not notice it or be confused.

After having gone off in search of birds,
he is for all days and all nights to come quite lost.

from: The Balloonists (1962)

To see the original poem, go to here