Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Sonnet by David Koker (1921-45), a Dutch Jew who died on the way to Dachau

The nature of the world is common ground,
no need for me to state my own position
as there are no philosophers around
to whom such things need constant exposition.

The world’s divided into good and bad
and into objects either live or dead.
To those who’d tell you what God is, just add
He’s been and gone, there’s no more to be said.

This is reality boiled down, complete
enough to make your path in future clear.
Just two more things though, lest I should forget:
If you would go on living, you must eat
and many a man who courts a girl feels fear
before he does so, afterwards regret.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Poem by the Dutch writer Ester Perquin


At night the wife of the old warder hears
the bolts shot back and can no longer sleep.

A man stays loyal to a place longer than he knows,
cells copycat down into his deepest breath
and with him close she hears how imprisoned men
do laps inside his head.

She listens in on flustered conversations: break-pen,
rebel-neck, blood-guilt and shadow-cull.
She keeps her eyes open – at times

one of them scales the wall and slips
between the bed-sheets out of his skull.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Danish translation of a poem by Mark Strand

Min mor en sen sommeraften


Når månen kommer til syne
og nogle få vindhærgede lader træder frem
i de lavhvælvede bakker
og skinner med et lys
som er sløret og støvfyldt
og som svæver over markerne,
står min mor, med håret i en knold,
og overskygget ansigt, og med røgen
fra cigaretten der snor sig tæt
op ad kjolens svagt gule skær,
i nærheden af huset
og ser på sivningen af det svindende lys
ned gennem tagrørene,
de sidste grå øer af skyer
der udviskes, og vinden
der kruser månens askefarvede dække
på den sorte bugt.


Snart vil huset, med skodderne lukkede, sende
små tæpper af lampeglød
ud i disen og bugten
vil begynde sin højlydte stigen og synken
og fyrretræerne, flossede kroner
der stiger op ad bakken, vil synes at græsse
himlens sidste gløder.
Og min mor vil stirre ind i stjernestierne,
de endeløse tunneler af intethed,
og imens hun stirrer
under timens fortryllelse
vil hun tænke på hvordan vi hver nat
overgiver os til forfaldets lydløse storme
som flår i det slappe kød,
og hun vil ikke vide
hvorfor hun er til
og hvad der holder hende fangen
hvis ikke kærlighedens vilkår som bragte hende hertil.


Min mor vil gå indenfor
og markerne, de nøgne stene
vil drive i fred, små væsner –
musen og mursejleren – vil sove
ved den modsatte gavl.
Kun fårekyllingen vil være oppe,
gentagende sin ene skingrende tone
til verandaens rådne brædder,
til de rustne skodder, til luften, til det randløse mørke,
til havet som holder sig for sig selv.
Hvorfor skulle min mor vågne?
Jorden er endnu ikke en have
der snart skal vendes. Stjernerne
er endnu ikke klokker der kimer
om natten for de bortgangne.
Det er alt for sent.

(to see the original, go to here)

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A long-forgotten sonnet by the Dutch poet P.C. Boutens


Mysterieuze bloemelamp der maan,
Zilveren iris, die de oneindigheid
Der nachten bevend tegen openspreidt
Uw hart zoo licht van liefde niet verstaan,-

De ruimte is vol van uw helle eenzaamheid,
En blind verlangen vliedt in lichte laan
Tot zon, uw bruigom, in wien te vergaan,
Bleek beeld in ‘t blauw, uw bidden bloeien beidt...

Zoo bloeien zielen in den stillen nacht
Tot zilvren kelken uit haar zwaarrood goud,
Totdat heur duister blank van bloesem staat,
Witte verrukking, die zon tegensmacht,
Maar, rasse rijp, voor liefdes dag vergaat,
Als al wat teêr en godlijk is en koud.

(Printed in De Gids, 1899, p.367) 


Mysterious flower-lantern of the moon,
A silver iris, opening quiveringly
Your heart towards the nights’ infinity
A heart so light with love perceived by none,-

All space is filled by your lone clarity,
And blind desire, whose fleeing, gleaming rays run
To the sun, your bridegroom, absorbed by whom
Your blossom, sky-pale image, waits to be...

Thus do souls blossom in the silent night
To silver calices from crimson gold,
Until their dark is held in blossom’s sway,
White rapture, yearning for the sun’s clear light,
But, ripe too soon, they fade before love’s day
Like all that’s delicate, divine and cold.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Another poem set to music by Carl Nielsen. By the Danish 19th century poet and hymn-writer B.S. Ingemann

(Based on the Swedish).

La bienséance est la moindre de toutes les loix & la plus svivie.

I’m often glad, although I feel like weeping;
For no heart shares the joy in my sole keeping.
I’m often sorrowful, though laugh with glee,
So no one all my frightened tears may see.

I often love, although I feel like sighing;
For my heart needs be mute and hid from prying.
I’m often angry, though must wear a smile;
For those who anger are but fools that rile.

I often burn, yet in such heat I shiver;
The world’s embrace is like an ice-cold river,
I’m often cold, yet sweat stands on my brow;
For many tasks lack love it seems somehow.

I often speak, though would refrain from prating,
Where mindeless words for thought need not be waiting.
I’m often dumb, and would to ease my breast
Have thund’rous voice when it is most oppressed.

Oh! You alone who can my joy be sharing,
You at whose bosom I can weep uncaring,
Oh! dearest, if you knew me, loved me true,
I could be always as I am – with you.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Here's one we sing in the choir, text by Helge Rode


So bitterly my heart ached,
my feet were blocks of wood,
so sick and lonesome was my soul
when at my goal I stood.
The hungry crows all wildly screech
where black storms toss and fling.
Come spring!

Come Denmark’s gentle summer.
Come meadow flowers in throng.
Come golden day and silver night.
Come bird song, sweet and long.

But trees with naked branches,
defiant in despair,
stretch up at dark’s wild hordes that pass
above us in the air.
The sparrow falls to earth quite dead,
the ground no life can bring.
Come Spring!

Come Denmark’s gentle summer.
Come meadow flowers in throng.
Come golden day and silver night.
Come bird song, sweet and long.

But chillest now the cross is,
like some frost-stiffened cry,
a hope that’s crucified is all
that empty hands hold high.
The dead are restless in their sleep,
recalled are wounds that sting.
Come Spring!

Come Denmark’s sweetest summer.
Come fully, rich and strong.
Come happy time! Come joy and peace.
Come heart’s song, full and long.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Danes SING their poetry - this is a classic. No wedding anniversary is complete without it

It’s so delightful to be as one

It’s so delightful to be as one,
For two who dearly life would be sharing,
Each joy is felt to be doubly won,
Each sorrow’s burden is half the bearing;
Yes, it’s fair weather
:|: To walk together, :|:
Two birds, one feather,
:|: In love, true love! :|:

It’s so agreeable everywhere
Where great and small the same mind are sharing,
And those great loads which we all must bear
Are lessened by the heart’s tender caring;
Yes, it’s fair weather
:|: To stay together, :|:
When now and ever
:|: Is heart’s true voice! :|:

It’s so inspiring to know each day
We have a Master of all life’s stations,
He’ll not forsake us when we are grey,
His mercy lasts to all generations;
Yes, it’s fair weather,
:|: That altogether :|:
Both now and ever
:|: Is God’s true word! :|:

It’s so distressing to have to part
For those who dearly life would be sharing,
But God be praised! All those dear of heart
Re-meet in heaven to joy unsparing;
Yes, it’s fair weather
:|: To live together, :|:
When now and ever
:|: Is love, true love! :|:

Each wedding couple who pledge their vow
In Jesu’s name, and in fullest measure,
Though earthly fortune be high or low,
Will find both early and late life’s treasure:
For it’s fair weather
:|: To sit together, :|:
When fired for ever
:|: By love, true love. :|:

(N.F.S. Grundtvig, 1855)

Monday, 19 April 2010

A poem by the Norwegian writer Øyvind Rimbereid



In the Lufthansa plane on her way home from Milan
seven thousand metres above the Alps,
she rests her head against the window,
worried about her first assignment for Nortrade.
Soon she is snoozing, and half in a dream
she is already over Skagerrak.
But in the handbag under the seat
lies the rose
the Italian contact
bought for her during dinner the previous evening.
It lies protected
inside Monday’s Milano Finanza
she’d been hoping to get to read.
Innermost, under the light pressure
of the petals,
a yellow larva still writhes.
So: airborne woman, rose and larva.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Mid 13th century German poem

Dû bist mîn, ich bin dîn:
des solt dû gewis sîn.
dû bist beslozzen
in mînem herzen:
verlorn ist daz slüzzelîn:
dû muost immer drinne sîn.

Thou art mine, I am thine:
of this thou hast sure sign:
locked thou art
within my heart:
the key now no one can find:
thou art for ever consigned.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

A poem by the Dutch writer Bert Bevers


                        On seeing a newspaper photograph

Twenty men. Arm in arm. A find on excavating
for the building of a factory. Whistling together
these lads cheerfully crossed the water. A Great War
had to be fought, and they, they were to do their bit.

Through bakelite of telephones over the top and
dispatched towards bullets, life for them, at Arras in ’17,
abruptly came to a halt. Patient bones that broken-white
in a ground fertile from yet more warfare waited for later.

Under fresh clover and flowering nettles their dead gaze
ever heavenward in eaten-away boxes.
Now the outer skin of the earth has been raked off,
they lie elbow to elbow imitating a Holbein

with on their feet – and still in good repair – their boots.

(Click to enlarge)

Friday, 16 April 2010

A poem from my PA cycle


pa had hands that
never grew old
they just matured –
beautifully boned
large hands
the right an octave and two
the left an octave and three
from playing the viola

the octave and two
gripped mine
for the last time
at norwich station
the thick gold band
of wedding ring
caught my palm

his hands
i did not inherit
his ring
my son did

instead i inherited his laugh
but only after he was gone
maybe i had stowed it away
unknown to myself
for the lean years

it erupts in mid-joke
as it always did
not a snort, not a whinny
but a brief guffaw

hello pa

for the whole cycle, go to here

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Poem by the Swedish writer Lars Gustafsson

The lamp

Before the lamp was lit
we sat completely still

A crow’s rasping voice
and a sudden scent of clover

with a sweetish warmth
through this rising dark.

Water, completely still.
The earth, it too tranquil.

The bird flew
as close as it could

over its own shadow

And the bumblebee, faithful
friend of many summers,

crashed against the window pane
as if it were the wall of the world

And the dive dapper
flew from lake to lake

It could be late
or early
in various lives in various lives

it could be in a butterfly’s shadow
In the shadow of any life.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A poem by the Danish writer Helge Rode


So bitterly my heart ached,
so weary were my feet,
so sick and lonesome was my soul
although my goal complete.
The hungry crows all wildly screech
where black storms toss and fling.
Come spring!

Come Denmark’s gentle summer.
Come meadow flowers in throng.
Come golden day and silver night.
Come bird song, sweet and long.

But trees with naked branches,
defiant in despair,
stretch up at dark’s wild hordes that pass
above us in the air.
The sparrow falls to earth quite dead,
the ground no life can bring.
Come Spring!

Come Denmark’s gentle summer.
Come meadow flowers in throng.
Come golden day and silver night.
Come bird song, sweet and long.

But chillest now the cross is,
like some frost-stiffened cry,
a hope that’s crucified is all
that empty hands hold high.
The dead are restless in their sleep,
recalled are wounds that sting.
Come Spring!

Come Denmark’s sweetest summer.
Come fully, rich and strong.
Come happy time! Come joy and peace.
Come heart’s song, full and long.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Poem by the Danish writer Jeppe Aakjær

Now the day is full of song

Now the day is full of song
and now the curlew’s calling,
hear the snipe that all night long
its love-drum beats till morning.
Gather, gather grass with dew,
gather, gather reeds anew,
gather, gather flowers.

Marigolds with heavy stance
have formed a golden meadow,
when the south wind calls a dance
the willow herb will follow.
Gather, gather grass with dew,
gather, gather reeds anew,
gather, gather flowers.

And the pond, till day is late,
has flowering rush to light it,
holds up high each stem so straight
to let the sun ignite it.
Gather, gather grass with dew,
gather, gather reeds anew,
gather, gather flowers.

Now young maids with stitches fine
their wedding gowns are seaming.
She who for a groom must pine
will find hers when she’s dreaming.
Gather, gather grass with dew,
gather, gather reeds anew,
gather, gather flowers.

Hand me a forgetmenot
and mint ere our game’s over,
then we will, as like as not,
end up as if in clover.
Gather, gather grass with dew,
gather, gather reeds anew,
gather, gather flowers.

Well-known Danish song, with music by Carl Nielsen

Monday, 12 April 2010

Three 'buzzard' poems by Klaus Høeck

        you make me happy
        my beloved like
the buzzard gyrating in
        its epicycles
        like paraffin when
it is ignited like stan
getz on the bossa nova
        waters like the sight
        of the danish flag
that is how happy you make
        me when we are in
        love’s right element

(from: 1001 POEMS)

        time flies past on the
wings of a buzzard in ac
        ross the garden so
        swiftly that it is
only this morning that i
        discover the chan
        ges and notice that
i have come to resemble
        my father as he
        was on the final
photograph taken of him
        all that time ago

(from: In Nomine)

        Was it a
        common buzzard
that hung above Kolding
        like a hand-print
        in plaster that
morning, when you were bound
        for nowhere?
        Were you yourself
        describing rail
wayline circles a
        long dream’s isobars.

(from: HOME)

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Poem by the Dutch writer Renée van Riessen


Vreemd dat hij nu niet valt
zo vlak boven de grond,
dat hij zijn eigen vlucht vertrouwt
terwijl zijn vleugels nauwelijks bewegen.

Zijn romp, daartussen, is al even
roerloos: een massieve kluit,
maar in zijn kop schuilt aandacht
voor de aarde. Daar is buit.

Vreemd dat hij nu niet duikt,
hij heeft geduld.
Hij zweeft zich los van onze grote vragen:
Zal ik vandaag nog vangen? Hoe lang mag
het pauze zijn tussen twee vleugelslagen?

Vliegen is vrij en duiken kent geen schuld
hij valt eenvoudig op de kiekens aan
wanneer zijn tijd gekomen is en daarna
zweeft hij weer. Met engelengeduld.


Strange that he does not fall
so close now to the ground,
that in his flight he puts such trust
although his wings are almost without motion.

Between the wings his body's just as
still: a massive clod of clay,
but in his head lie lurking
thoughts of earth. For it holds prey.

Strange that he does not dive -
he bides his time.
He hovers out of reach of our great queries:
Is there a catch today? Just how long can
a pause extend within a wing-beat series?

Flying is free and diving knows no taint
he simply plummets earthwards on the chicks
the instant that his time has come, and then hangs
hovering. The patience of a saint.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Translation of a prose poem by the Norwegian writer Torild Wardenær, from 'The Paradise Effect'

I pass through the ranks of the living and the random order of things

I pass through the ranks of the living and the random order of things.
First: egg, bulb, demarcation of wounds, the square root of large numbers, frequent retreats from the sting of death, tweezers, stainless steel, Viking ships and an eternal common babble.
Then that which calls for greater devotion: the absent beloved and the syllable above all syllables, the holy sound OM.
Then comes the going through of the third, fourth and fifth orders and I cannot, hand on heart, say that I am getting increasingly sharpened. On the contrary, I am relapsing into wishful thinking, into believing that the paradisiac place is less than a month’s march away or that grief will not last more than seven days. I cannot manage on my own to hold phenomena apart and summon a collective memory that perhaps knows more about the annihilation of the dinosaurs or the number ten to the hundredth.
And memory seeks, for everything is scattered, lost through history, military coups, the battle of Issos in 333, the battle of the Vadimos lake, the slave war, the battle of the Teutoburger forest in year nine, the first Punic War, the battle of Tannenberg, the Rule of Terror in 1793 – everything has to be picked up again, examined piece by piece, the ruined coats of mail, the rent skin, the crushed bones and all the blood, where it came from and where it ran to, streams of blood sucked into the ground among the now almost untraceable atoms from the soldiers’ childhood lives, for example the mother’s milk trickling from the gaping mouths of the small boy children, alternately suckling and staring in devotion at their young mothers – those who were decorated with glass beads and gold clasps.
Perhaps going through the order of things can only be set in motion by special astronomic events or by as yet unknown testing methods or via the courage and extraordinary sensitivity of the trial subjects. For it is difficult to prove what it means to be alive for a while. It can apparently not be done even under the most rigorously controlled conditions, and I must finally, with my usual scientific integrity state that there is a final number, but that it is scarcely in one’s power – as a perfectly ordinary mortal – to conjure it up.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Translation of a poem by the Australian poet Robert Gray


Min mor fortalte mig om hvordan hun en nat, som ofte skete,
        havde holdt sig vågen
i vores træhus, for enden af indkørslens
mørke bladmuld
og ventede på min far, efter værtshusene havde lukket, velvidende
        at han måtte gå
adskillige miles ‘i hans tilstand’,
hvis ikke en eller anden satte ham af hjemme,
fordi han lang tid før havde kørt sin egen bil ud over en bjergskråning,
og i færd med at blive en legende havde kørt
på en plantages væltede
bananpalmer, helt ned til dens fod, og nogens dør,
med bilen stejlende, og hurtigt glidende
på en kæmpeflåde
af lemlæstet, saftsivende fiber,
fra hvilken han var klatret ned, uskadt, helt igennem høflig,
og aldrig siden havde kørt.
Denne nat tøvede min mor med at gå ud, og efterlade os børn alene,
og faldt selv i søvn, fuldt påklædt, på den redte seng,
men sprang op, lidt senere, med den grimmeste smag –
så med det samme
at han stadigvæk savnedes – og styrtede ud, halvkvalt,
for at opdage at hun, i søvne, havde bidt halen af
et lille firben, der var trukket mellem hendes læber. Denne bitterhed
        (plejede jeg at forestille mig),
løb hun ud på verandaen for at spytte ud,
og, stående dér, tør for spyt, så hun ud over den tavse, frosne bush,
og så at byens fjerne lys var døet bort.

Dog holdt min mor aldrig op med det som filosoffer påberåber sig,
        ‘at yde omsorg’,
skønt hun aldrig havde læst andet end Women’s Weekly,
og kunne være ‘helt umulig’ gennem et par
        måltider, selvfølgelig.
Denne omsorg for ting, indser jeg, var hendes eneste ægte ledsager
        i alle disse år,
Det var som om hun var to personligheder,
en fortravlet person, og en stille anden person, som så hvad
        der skulle gøres, og
som syntes at træde igennem hende, igen.
Hendes omsorg for alting kunne man se komme til syne ligesom
tidevandets bræmme på saltflader.
Det var det som fik hende til at jage naboens tyr ud af vores
        have med en kost,
da hun opdagede den i færd med at trampe hendes kimplanter ned –
tilbage, skridt for skridt tvang hun den, gennem det ødelagte hegn,
mens den brølede og stangede efter hende til højre og venstre hele vejen,
jeg som var fem år gammel råbende på bagtrappen:
‘Gi’ den dog for pokker et par blomster, mor.’
Nej. Hun låste kosteskaftet med udstrakte arme tværs over dens næse
mens hun selv blev skubbet tilbage, brat, tværs over gårdspladsen. Hun
dukkede sig bagved nogen tomatstokke,
og slog den med håndtaget, lige over mulens rungende hulhed,
puffede mod øjnene med hirsebørsten,
og fik sin vilje, jog den brølende ud; imens jeg, i kvaler,
stod og slog mod trinene, rækværket, med en strygejernsledning,
og pludseligt styrtede derned, og blev ligeledes sat på plads,
slået tilbage til det nederste trin, hujende. Og alt,
indså jeg, på grund af disse skrøbelige blade
som hun med det samme begyndte at pusle med, små som musefodspor
        i den nedtrampede lermuld.

Hvorimod, min far blot syntes at bekymre sig om aldrig at
        blive opfattet som dranker,
altid iført velpudsede sko.
En dranker definerede han som én der havde glemt en
facon.  En gentleman, dybest set, kendes kun,
eksisterer kun, i kraft af hans optræden. Selv havde han de mest perfekte
så at sige. Jeg kan ikke forestille mig nogen
med en mere kølig og afslappet rolig opførsel. I ham
var al følelse underlagt facon. At børste og bule den hat
man så tog på, eller at se ud over os alle, og så
        brede sin serviet ud
for at lade måltidet begynde – in en by hvor alle mænd sandsynligvis
en varm aften satte sig for at spise i en undertrøje –
var hans lidenskab. Han var, trods alt, akademiker
(dog uden afsluttende eksamen), noget mere sjældent dengang. Min far,
        indser jeg, var håbløst melankolsk –
de små, mistroiske små øjnes
stilling, og de smalle læbers, i hans langstrakte ansigt
røbede hver fornøjelses bitterhed, bortset fra formens fornøjelser.
Tit drak han alene
i RSL-klubben, og var blevet set bærende et omhyggeligt udvalgt slips
for at drikke sig fuld i klitterne mens han betragtede havet.
Da han var syg og hjemme om natten, kiggede jeg ind i hans soveværelse
ved den ene ende af en veranda med trådnet,
lige rundt om døren og lidt bag ham,
og så hans uhyggeligt hvælvede hovedskal under lampelyset mens han læste
i cigarettens størknende røg.
Lys skinnede igennem netværket hen på de tætte hortensiahoveder,
og på den store uformelige masse af insekter, som bier på voks,
        kravlende tøjret
og upåagtet lige ved side af ham. Han syntes at være tilfreds, i disse stunder,
som om han havde gjort alt han kunne for sig selv
og var blevet tvunget til, objektivt, at give op.
Han kunne lide sin kedelige mavesårspatientmad
og den store bunke biblioteksbøger jeg havde hentet. (Mine instrukser
        var altid:
‘Ikke noget klynkende. Ikke noget af New York jøder;
ikke noget af kvinder, især de franske; ikke noget
oversat fra russisk.’)
Og dog var den eneste gang jeg hørte ham sige at han havde nydt
        noget som helst
da han talte om bushen, engang. ‘Deroppe i bjergene,’
belærte han mig, idet han pegede sig omkring, ‘når solen stiger op
        af havet, og man står blandt
disse høje træer, får man fred i sindet.’
Jeg var imponeret. En anden gang, bad han mig om, efter sin død, at
tage hans aske et eller andet sted hen, og ikke lægge ham sammen med
        de lokale, på kirkegården.
Jeg gik op på et af bjergene han havde nævnt
år tilbage, på den tid på døgnet han havde talt om, når den halv-
        opstegne sol
var lige så takket som den
på hans infanteritegn,
og dér strøede jeg ham ud, endelig fuldstændigt reduceret, i det
        våde, vindblæste græs.
Trods al hans afstumpethed overfor min mor, havde jeg for længst
        accepteret ham.
Han havde, trods alt, givet mig, eller vist mig, det bedste råd,
og havde ladt mig være i fred. Og jeg var kommet nu til det synspunkt at
        vi alle er patetiske.
Da jeg åbnede hans murstensstore plastikæske denne morgen,
gled min lommekniv
og skar mig i hånden – og så gravede jeg med denne
i hans aske, som viste sig at ligne grålilla marmorstøv,
og følte at jeg ikke behøvede at finde flere ord.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Danish translation of a poem by Mark Strand


Ser du hvor vinduerne er planket til,
hvor det grå vigespor skinner i solen og saltluften
og asfaltpladerne på taget er skrællet eller faldet af,
hvor rækker af hvid oxeøje driver på et hav af græs?
Dér er stedet hvor du skal starte.

Træd ind i forrådnelsens rige,
mærk lugten af vådt puds, tag et skridt over glasskårene,
støvlommerne, kludene, de snavsede rester af en madras,
kig på den rustede ovn og vask, på den firkantede plamage
på væggen hvor Winslow Homers Golfstrømmen hang.

Gå videre til værelset hvor din far og mor
lod sig henrive i kærlighedens drift og kast,
og hør, hvis du kan, knirken af deres seng,
gå så til det sted hvor du gemte dig.

Gå hen til dit værelse, til alle de værelser hvis kolde, klamme luft du indåndede,
til alle de uønskede steder hvor sommer, efterår, vinter, forår,
synes at være densamme uønskede årstid, hvor de træer du kendte er døde
og andre har rejst sig. Besøg det andet sted
du knapt kan huske, det andet halvskjulte hus.

Se de to hunde komme styrtende. Når du går
holder de op, slukket i det blændende skær af et tidligere lys.
Besøg naboerne i husblokken længere ned; han vander sin plæne,
hun sidder på verandaen, men ikke længe.
Ved næste blik er de væk.

Forsæt med at gå tilbage, tilbage til marken, flad og forseglet i dis.
På den anden side venter en mand og en kvinde;
de er kommet tilbage, din mor før hun blev grå,
din far før han blev hvid.

Se nu på North West Arm, hvordan den gløder i et dybt cølinblåt.
Se lyset på græsset, det ene blad der brænder, skyen
der flammer op. Du er der næsten, om et øjeblik forsvinder
dine forældre, efterladende dig under lyset af en svunden stjerne,
under mørket af en nyfødt stjerne. Nu er tiden inde.

Nu opfinder du dit køds fartøj og sætter det på vandene
og driver i den jævne dønning, in det huggende salt.
Nu kigger du ned. Dér er barndommens vande.

For a parallel text version, go to here

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Last hymn for the time being by N.F.S. Grundtvig

If once the Lord’s plough you hold sure

If once the Lord’s plough you hold sure,
Cast not a glance behind you!
The world’s enchanted wood ignore,
Ne’er Sodom’s plague let bind you;
But plough your furrow, sow God’s seed!
And if the earth’s too dry, then weep!
Though tears your voice may thicken,
The golden harvest beckons!

And should you cast a backward glance,
Through frailty all forsaking,
Think of your calling, hold your stance,
No rearward step be taking!
For one life only you have breath,
Each scuttling move’s the path of death!
If haste hard falls has brought you,
May patience it have taught you!

Then onward go in Jesu’s name,
Though sticks and stones impede you!
And pause not, e’en embraced by flames
That boulder-like now meet you!
We walk on coals where’er we go
Whate’er the ground might falsely show,
’Tis not the fire where really
We’ll one day see things clearly!

But briefly will our life here last,
Our days are few in number,
A merest nap and death is past
As if ’twere earthly slumber,
The peace in rest that we enjoyed
Is sweeter than the toil employed;
Our pious wish diurnal:
Were but our joy eternal!

It will be such before we know
If we keep faith till dying,
While sighs and tears that ever grow
Are wages for the hireling!
The treasure is amazing great,
For us stands open Heaven’s gate,
And he whose spring can cure us
Through fire and flames goes for us!