Friday, 29 January 2016

Poem on snow by the Swedish poet Lars Gustafsson


Early, in the light-grey darkness after snowfall
I heard the child speak, in word-strings and sounds.

It was a language from a foreign tongue,
one lighter and more gentle, it fell like snow.

In the faces of lovers for a helpless moment
one can see something before they know they are in love

and everything’s restored. There is glass
and when it breaks one hears a special sound

and cracks through frozen lakes run on
so fast that no bird’s flight can emulate it.

I do not know how many daybreaks I have seen
but none correctly matched the day that followed.

It passes. Does not linger. The crack runs on.

But in the light-grey, the indefinite, we could reside.
You know what snow looks like once it has fallen.

Poem by the Swedish poet Carl Snoilsky (1841-1903)

Gammalt porslin

En kung i Sachsen samlade porslin,
       Men samlingsvurmen blef en riktig sjuka.
       Han bytte bort till kungen i Berlin
       Sitt garde – tänk – mot en kinesisk kruka!

Femhundra man med sabel och karbin,
       Som preussarn visste att förträffligt bruka,
       I exercisen smidiga och mjuka,
       I krig en mur, tänk, mot – en blå terrin!

Femhundra man med hårpung och med puder!
       Slikt dårhusdåd allt vanvett öfverbjuder
       Från världens början – ja, så tycker ni.

Se’n bytet gjordes, har ett sekel svunnit:
       Femhundra tappra hjärtan brista hunnit,
       Den gamla krukan – hon står ännu bi.

Old china

A king in Saxony collected china,
       This untamed urge though threatened to derange.
       For with the Berlin king he went on to exchange
       His guards – well! – since a Chinese vase was finer.

Five hundred men who with carbine and sabre
       – Their use the Prussian knew quite by routine –
       At drill were smooth and stylish in their labour,
       In war a wall, well! – for a blue tureen.

Five hundred men with chignon and with powder!
       No madman’s act to heaven could cry louder
       Since time began – yes, you think this a fact.

A century has passed since this proceeding:
       Five hundred valiant hearts have ceased their beating,
       The vase in question – it is still intact.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Afrikaans poem in Danish! Wilma Stockenström once more


Nu hvor jeg er ved at blive mere sprød
ved jeg ikke ligeså godt som før
hvordan jeg har det, hvor jeg hører til.
Solen brænder mine skulderdupper
brune som skorper på en tvebak.
Jeg var sådan et saftigt barn!
Ikke mindre end firs procent vand
arrangeret rundt om et skelet
udstyret med ret mange hængsler
så jeg kunne vandre på jorden,
fuld af forundring kunne røre
andre sat sammen som mig: vand
vand vand vand vand og.

Monday, 25 January 2016

A poem in Afrikaans by Wilma Stockenström


Now that I’m starting to get brittler
I no longer know as well
just how I feel, where I belong.
The sun burns my shoulder knobs
brown like the round crusts of rusks.
I was such a juicy child!
No less than eighty per cent water
arranged round a skeleton
equipped with quite a few hinges
so I could walk the earth,
full of wonder touch others
put together like me: water
water water water water and.

For the original, and the poet reading it, go to here.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Poem by the Belgian writer Hilde Keteleer


From my leisurely Sunday morning
I see how a blackbird stubbornly tugs
until the worm admits it’s dispatched.

A hundred times the blackbird must
have hopped past my father’s eyes
as he pushed the spade into the soil,

his shoulders hunched,
his half-smiling lips tighter
than in former years.

Now that I know him,
am an eldest daughter,

he silently produces a word
that has to do with pruning,
not putting dahlias in vases

but letting them last in the ground
for a whole season,
retaining their shape in tubers.

Procreated by chance,
I think, and watch the blackbird’s
cautious, patient stance.

To see the original, go to here