Sunday, 24 May 2020

Lars Gustafsson: 'Skäggdoppingen'

4 (Skäggdoppingen)

I de rena klara höstkvällarna
i små grupper framför motorbåtens stäv.
Och försvinnande utan rädsla, utan iver,
enbart därför att detta,
att försvinna,
är dess självklara konstart.

Jag har ofta önskat
att jag kunde följa den
också på dess andra flykt.
Ser den vattenytan
som en andra himmel?
Hur är dess tunga vingeslag under vattnet?

Tror den sig vara
samma fågel i två skilda rymder?
Den ena behärskad av vindar,
den andra av svala djupströmmar?

Trädet med dallrande löv.
Sjögräsets långa hår i strömmen
där den kalla bottenkällan faller ut.

Hur kan den föra
så skilda ting till samma liv?
Eller tror den sig vara
två fåglar
som möts ett ögonblick

i vattenytans hisnande och stumma gräns?

4 (The didapper)  (strictly: great crested grebe)

In the pure clear autumn evenings
in small groups ahead of the motorboat’s prow.
And disappearing without fear, without flurry,
simply because
is its natural art-form.

I have often wished
that I could follow it
also on its other flight.
Does it view the water’s surface
as a second sky?
What are its heavy wing-strokes under water like?

Does it consider itself
the same bird in two separate spaces?
The one ruled by winds,
the other by cool deep currents?

The tree with quivering leaves.
The long tresses of the sea-grass in the current
where the cold bottom spring meets the lake.

How can it fuse
such separate things into one life?
Or does it consider itself
two birds
that meet for an instant at the

dizzying, mute boundary of the water’s surface?

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Holger Drachmann: 'Ad kendte Veje'


Oh, how each footstep with lead seems hung,
       when the path must be trod till it’s ended;
       Light was each  step, so twenty-years young,
       when it led towards days that were splendid.
       A small bird as we passed
       was so busily singing
       its song of love;
       in each beech there was swinging
       and playing above, —
       songs and games did not last.
       Only pine trees now soughing have voice at all,
       and its sound’s that of water when rough;
              soon autumn will call.

Dearest one! ah, the double-edged plea
       that clashes in this strange calling:
       Songbirds’ gay laughter from corn-hued lea
       and woodland streams’ sad-sobbing falling!
       Now the summer is gone
       there’s but  autumn remaining,
       and autumn’s stalled;
       merely day’s image waning
       with solace now palled,
       a picture whose features once shone.
       And I press the wan leaf to my lips with a sigh.
       Double urges still clash when recalled
              at the hour of goodbye.

No, as lamenter I’ll not say adieu,
       since all has been laid out quite surely;
       nor will I tread paths of autumn hue,
       when star-paths lie here before me.
       There’s a force in the air
       which as pine needles’ resin
       my mind sets on fire;
       and the autumn’s rays dress in
       a rainbow attire,
       each flower has a scent twice as rare.
       Let the spring remain silent; a seed time is nigh.
       All my heart’s songs will never expire:
              they refuse to die.

Friday, 22 May 2020

HCA: 'Jylland mellem tvende Have'

Jylland mellem tvende have
som en runestav er lagt,
runerne er kæmpegrave
inde midt i skovens pragt,
og på heden alvorsstor,
her, hvor ørknens luftsyn -
ørknens luftsyn bor.

Jylland, du er hovedlandet,
højland med skov-ensomhed!
Vildt i vest med klittag sandet
løfter sig i bjerges sted.
Østersø og Nordhavs vand
favnes over Skagens -
over Skagens sand.

Heden, ja, man tror det næppe,
men kom selv, bese den lidt:
lyngen er et pragtfuldt tæppe,
blomster myldre milevidt.
Skynd dig, kom! om føje år
heden som en kornmark -
som en kornmark står.

Mellem rige bøndergårde
snart dampdragen flyve vil,
hvor nu Loke sine hjorde
driver, skove vokse til.
Briten flyver over hav,
gæster her prins Hamlets -
her prins Hamlets grav.

Jylland mellem tvende have
som en runesten er lagt,
fortid mæle dine grave,
fremtid folder ud din magt,
havet af sit fulde bryst
synger højt om Jyllands -
højt om Jyllands kyst.

Jutland by two oceans bounded,
laid out like a runic stave,
runes of ancient barrows rounded,
each a wondrous woodland grave,
and on heath they weave strong spells,
here where desert mirage,
desert mirage dwells.

Jutland, you’re the country’s homeland,
highlands with seclusion spread!
Wild in west with dune-topped dome and
sands that rise in mountains’ stead.
Baltic, North Sea here hold hands,
joining over Skagen’s
over Skagen’s sands.

Ah, the heath has no contender,
come and take a look around: 
carpeted by heather’s splendour,
flowers thick-piled for miles around.
Quickly, come and see first-hand,
ere here swathes of cornfields
swathes of cornfields stand.

Soon rich farmsteads will do battle
with steam dragons flying past,
here where Loki now drives cattle,
woods will spring up all too fast.
Britons will soon brave the wave
come to see Prince Hamlet’s
see Prince Hamlet’s grave.

Jutland by two oceans bounded,
laid out like a runic stave,
of the past your graves have sounded,
a strong future you shall save,
and the sea will proudly boast,
loudly sing of Jutland’s
sing of Jutland’s coast.

Willem de Mérode: 'Avondregen'


Er was een zacht gedruppel in de blâren
Of nu de zomerregen zou beginnen.
En traag gleden de schemeringen binnen
Van buien, die ons dreigend overvaren.

De geur van vocht en bloemen vloeide samen
En dreef de paden rond als lichte nevel,
Bleek uit den damp hief zich de roode gevel,
Toen kletsten groote druppels aan de ramen.

En gij: het leven is niet te vertragen.
De bui komt zwaar en driftig nederslaan
Gelukkig wat gered is en geborgen,

Maar ik: zie hoe gerust de rozen staan,
En hemels wreede lafenis verdragen.
Zij dulden sterk en bloeien tegen morgen.


There was a gentle dripping in the leaves
As if the summer rain would now begin.
And lazily the twilights glided in
Of showers borne menacingly on the breeze.

The smell of flowers and dampness merged and then
It drifted round the paths like wisps of mist,
Through steam the gable’s red was faintly guessed,
Huge rain-drops dashed against the window pane.

And you: with life there’s nothing can contend.
The shower is heavy in its headstrong fall
Fortunate what’s been saved and stowed away,

But I: see how each rose stands calm and tall,
Sustains the cruel assuagement heaven sends.
Endures and lives to flower at break of day.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Ludvig Holstein: 'Det er i dag et vejr - et solskinsvejr'

How fine it is today

How fine it is today – a day of sun!
Oh spring so dear, once more you have begun!
Now all those winter months are gone completely,
I will buy hyacinths that smell so sweetly
and take them to the one my heart has won.

She bought some white and then she bought some blue,
she bought of those most beautiful in hue.
How fine it is today! The sun is shining!
And happy memories are me entwining,
I’ll take them with me to my love so true.

And they came floating down in rings and rows.
She passed among them and her heart still glows.
It is a day of sunshine without equal!
And I have sun enough till there’s a sequel,
and I must kiss each little leaf that grows.

She kissed them all, she kissed them one by one,
she took them to the one her heart had won.
My friend, look, hyacinths that smell so sweetly!
My friend, those winter months they’re gone completely!
How fine it is today, a day of sun–!

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Matthias Claudius: 'Der Mond ist aufgegangen' (1779)

Der Mond ist aufgegangen

Der Mond ist aufgegangen,
die goldnen Sternlein prangen
am Himmel hell und klar;
der Wald steht schwarz und schweiget,
und aus den Wiesen steiget
der weiße Nebel wunderbar.

Wie ist die Welt so stille
und in der Dämmrung Hülle
so traulich und so hold
als eine stille Kammer,
wo ihr des Tages Jammer
verschlafen und vergessen sollt.

Seht ihr den Mond dort stehen?
Er ist nur halb zu sehen
und ist doch rund und schön.
So sind wohl manche Sachen,
die wir getrost belachen,
weil unsre Augen sie nicht sehn.

Wir stolze Menschenkinder
sind eitel arme Sünder
und wissen gar nicht viel;
wir spinnen Luftgespinste
und suchen viele Künste
und kommen weiter von dem Ziel.

Gott, laß dein Heil uns schauen,
auf nichts Vergänglichs bauen,
nicht Eitelkeit uns freun;
laß uns einfältig werden
und vor dir hier auf Erden
wie Kinder fromm und fröhlich sein.

Wollst endlich sonder Grämen
aus dieser Welt uns nehmen
durch einen sanften Tod;
und wenn du uns genommen,
laß uns in Himmel kommen,
du unser Herr und unser Gott.

So legt euch denn, ihr Brüder,
in Gottes Namen nieder;
kalt ist der Abendhauch.
Verschon uns, Gott, mit Strafen
und laß uns ruhig schlafen
und unsern kranken Nachbar auch.

The moon is fully risen

The moon is fully risen,
the golden starlets glisten
in heavens clear and bright;
through hushed woods dark is prising,
from meadows there is rising
a wondrous cloud of mist so light.

How calm and still the world is
and in dusk’s mantle furled is
so lovely and so near;
it lies like some quiet room where 
day’s gloom you leave behind there
and sleeping cause to disappear.

You see the moon there gleaming?
But half can you see beaming,
though it’s both round and fair.
So too what’s partly hiding
we feel deserves deriding,
since our eyes tell us it’s not there.

We humans overweening
are sinners poor and preening
who knowledge fail to store;
we weave our fabrications
employ arts’ deviations
yet from our goal withdraw the more.

God, grant us Thy salvation,
no shifting-sand foundation
or vainness be our bane;
may we be simple-hearted
and while from Earth not parted
a child’s glad piety retain.

And lastly without grieving
when we this world are leaving
willst Thou kind death afford;
and when Thou us hast taken
may we in heaven waken,
Thou who art Master and Our Lord.

So in God’s name, you Brothers,
lie down ere darkness covers –
cold breath of evening’s due.
God, spare Thy just chastising 
so we may sleep till rising
and our sick neighbour do so too.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Helge Rode: 'Min pige er så lys som rav'

My sweet girl is as amber bright

My sweet girl is as amber bright
and Denmark’s wheat so golden,
her gaze as ocean-blue a sight
as skies when there beholden.
My princess Tove of Denmark!

My sweet girl’s smile’s a sun in May
and songs from lark’s throats pouring,
and dimples gently point the way
to gems her mind’s been storing –
My princess Tove of Denmark!

My sweet girl can at times be hard
to those she does not favour,
her tongue is then a keen-edged sword
whose bite makes keen men quaver.
My princess Tove of Denmark!

Her dimple goes behind a cloud,
her eye goes grey as ashes;
but then a smile once more breaks out,
blue waves her gaze then flashes.
My princess Tove of Denmark!

For if I look into those eyes,
they grow both warm and yielding.
Within her mind I then recline
as in two arms full-shielding.
My princess Tove of Denmark!

Friday, 15 May 2020

Poem by Henrik van Veldeke (c. 1150 - c. 1184)

Swer ze der minne ist sô vruot

Swer ze der minne ist sô vruot,
       Daz er der minne dienen kan,
Und er durch minne pîne tuot,
       Wol im, derst ein saelic man!
Von minne kumet uns allez guot,
Diu minne machet reinen muot,
       Waz solte ich sunder minne dan?

Ich minne die schoenen sunder danc,
       Ich weiz wol, ir minne ist klâr.
Obe mîne minne ist kranc.
       Sô wirt ouch niemer minne wâr.
Ich sage ir mîner minne danc,
Bî ir minne stât mine sanc,
       Er ist tump, swers niht geloubet gar.

 Whoe’er in love so wise can be

Whoe’er in love so wise can be
       That in love’s service he’ll withstand
The pain from which he’d seek to flee,
       Good luck to him, the happy man!
All goodness we from love get free,
The mind through love gains purity,
       How then should I without love stand?

I love the fair one, will or no,
       And know full well her love is clear.
Should my love have too weak a glow,
       Then no true love can be sincere.
Her for my love I thanks would show,
Without her love my song can’t flow,
       Who doubts this is a fool, I fear.

Werner Aspenström: 'Slutstriden'


Quaking grass, crane flies, humans
without an interest in the care of arms –
armies to hope for
on the final day of reckoning.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

A prose poem from 'Dansen en Rhytmen' (1893) by Frans Erens: 'Goudzang'


Goud gespreid ligt de heide wijd.
De beek graait door den zandigen grond: zij loopt in gekrul en gekronkel.
Naar boven in het licht der avondzon stijgen de scharluten één voor één. Zij hangen hoog in blauwe lucht. Zij roepen elkander met gouden weegeklaag.
Op de breede vleugels hangen ze in de bleek-blauwe tintellucht en op de oevers der beek laten ze rollen hun goudgemurmel in lange reeksen van vollen teêren klank.
Als de gouden muziek der gouden hei in hitte-gebeef valt neer van boven uit het rein kristal der hooge lucht het sleepende goudgetril der drijvende scharluten en van den grond naar boven, in richting ver-horizontaal drijft de goudorgelende roepzang in de stilte door. Dan is 't weer stil en weer vangt aan het goudgetril, eentonig door.
Dan zweeft effen vlak de klank, doorzichtig rein in de ijle lucht. Dan rimpelend rolt het roepgezang eentonig steeds met vallend zacht finaal geween.
Zij roepen uit het aard-wee, den weedom luid met gorgelend goudgeluid; den zieleval der eenzaamheid en het blije wee-weenend gelukgejuich, den treurzang van het verlaten zijn, der ijdelheden ijdelheid.

Golden Song

A golden expanse, the heath lies wide.
The brook roots through the sandy soil: it slithers along in twists and turns.
In the light of the evening sun and one by one the golden plovers rise. They hang up high in the light-blue sky. They call to each other with golden weeps of woe.
On their wide-spread wings they hang in the pale-blue shivering sky and on the banks of the brook they let their gold-murmurings roll in drawn-out strings of rounded gentle sound.
Like the golden music of golden heath a-quiver with heat there falls from above from pure-crystal rarified air the trailing gold trilling of drifting golden plovers and upwards from the ground, towards the distant horizon the gold-organing song-calls drift in the silence. Then it is silent once more and once more the golden monotonous trilling resumes.
Then the even surface of sound hovers transparently pure in the lofty air. Then the rippling monotonous song rolls on with a falling, final weep.
They call out of earth-woe, their woes loud with gurgling golden tones; the soul-fall of sheer loneliness and cheerful woe-weeping, jubilant joy, the lament of lonesomeness, the vanity of vanities.