Friday, 30 January 2015

A poem by the Norwegian poet Rolf Jacobsen

Stave churches

I believe in the dark churches,
those that still stand like pitch-fires in the forests
bearing with them a scent as of deep-red roses
from times that maybe possessed more love.
The soot-black towers I believe in, those with a sun-burnt smell
and ancient incense in-branded by centuries.
     Laudate pueri Dominum, laudate nomen Domini.

Axes dubbed them and silver bells rang in them.
Someone carved them with dreams, gave them wings to roam with
through ages and mountains. They break like billows around them.
Now they are ships, with crow’s nests toward the East Indies,
Santa Maria, Pinta and Niña when the days darkened
near the world’s end, years away from Andalusia.
     Laudate pueri Dominum, laudate nomen Domini.

Fear everywhere, even Columbus is frightened now
that mirages seek to entice them and the wind’s the hissing of serpents.
The stars stare immovably down with iron eyes of madness,
all the days are evil, all hope of rescue is gone, we though keep
sailing, sailing, sailing.
     Laudate pueri Dominum, laudate nomen Domini.

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