Sunday, 25 July 2021

H.C.Ten Berge: 'Winterzin'



Een grijze lucht die urenlang

      op sneeuwen stond,

zich inhield, schuchter toen

een handvol vlokken zond

als een belofte voor de nacht

waarin je wakend lag

te slapen tot de dageraad

het sneeuwen niet meer tegenhield

en je gonzend van geluk

de dag begon en uit het zolderraam

de eeuwen en de witbestoven akkers

naast de landweg overzag,

       en er niets was dat die vervoering brak –


Winter Sentence


A grey sky which for hours on end

       predicted snow

held back, then shyly sent

a fluttering of flakes

as a sure promise to the night

in which you while awake

lay sleeping till the break of dawn

no longer held the snow in check

and you – tingling with sheer joy –

began the day and through the attic’s pane

surveyed the centuries and fields white-dusted

bordering the country road,

       and nothing broke that sense of ecstasy –

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Macaronic Song: 'Winter och frost thet kommer med ijs'


Makaronisk Sång (1571-73)


Winter och frost thet kommer med ijs,

Et horror hyemalis;

Sommar och blomster thet kommer med pris,

Et decor estiualis.

The glædie sigh mott sommarsens tijder,

Iam vario decore,

Förvtan then ena migh görs oblidh,

Præ nimio dolore.


Nu är kommen then lystighe tid,

Quo flores floreantur,

Marken giörs grön och solen giörs blidh,

Et silue foliantur.

Thet glæder sigh bådhe foghell och diur,

Estatis in dulcore,

Ther til bådhe pighor och stålte jungfruer,

Earumque amore.


Jagh haffner fååt så lönligh en sotth,

Quem nolo promulgare;

Then fick jagh ij skoghen ij går,

Dum iui spaciari.

Eij är then mester ij werlden till,

Qui curam medicabit,

För vtan then ene om hon så will,

Hæc sola me sanabit.


Nu ähr kommen then lekia kan,

Et morbum suffocare;

Ther till haffner bådhe mackt och sin

Et me sanabit.

Förvtan then ene vill nu rådha migh bott,

Vaticinio prolato,

Tå bliffuer iagh vtaff sorgen löst,

Furore duplicato.


Min kärest hon bor på högt itt bergh,

Qui culmen habet litis;

Och till thet huus tå ligger en bro,

De gemmis margaritis.

Jag steg migh wp, iagh gick ther in,

Progrediens ad illam,

Hon togh mig så kärligh wthi sin fampn,

Pie palpabit maxillas.


Ij waren wellkommen, käre herre min,

Spes meæ sanitatis;

Ij skolen dricka thet klara win,

De cornibus auratis!

Hon lade migh vthi en silkes sengh,

Carbunculis opressum,

Ther soff jagh så söttelig på hennes arm,

Diei post regressum.



Macaronic Song


Winter and frost they come with ice,

Et horror hyemalis;

Summer and flowers they both entice,

Et decor estiualis.

They look forward to summertime,

Iam vario decore,

Without a loved one I do but pine,

Præ nimio dolore.


Now the joyful season is here,

Quo flores floreantur,

The field turns green the sun warm and clear,

Et silue foliantur.

Both bird and beast give joyful sign,

Estatis in dulcore,

As do young maids and ladies fine,

Earumque amore.


So secret a sickness has come my way,

Quem nolo promulgare;

In the forest I caught it yesterday,

Dum iui spaciari.

No physician exists in the world entire,

Qui curam medicabit,

Except for her, should she so desire,

Hæc sola me sanabit.


Now one has come who can cure this ill,

Et morbum suffocare;

For that she has both power and skill

Et me sanabit.

Were she to remedy this disease,

Vaticinio prolato,

From sorrow I would find release,

Furore duplicato.


My dearest lives on a hill so high,

Qui culmen habet litis;

And to that house a bridge runs nigh,

De gemmis margaritis.

I climbed and entered that high place,

Progrediens ad illam,

She took me so fondly in her embrace,

Pie palpabit maxillas.


You’re welcome here, dear lord of mine,

Spes meæ sanitatis;

You shall drink of the pure clear wine,

De cornibus auratis!

On a silken bed she laid me to rest,

Carbunculis opressum,

There I slept sweetly at her breast,

Diei post regressum.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Another Swedish folk-song from Östergöthland: 'Den ondsinta Käringen'


The mean-minded hag 


I went a-courting in my youth

Though I was still unshaven,

Promised to marry some old hag,

Thought she was a maiden.

Not a moment’s peace of mind I got from her.


On the first night we were wed,

Kissing following stroking;

On the next night we were wed,

Nipping followed poking.

Not a moment’s peace of mind I got from her.


On the third night we were wed,

In my ear she bit me;

For a fortnight more or less

No sound did it permit me.

Not a moment’s etc.


On the fourth night we were wed,

In my nose she bit me.

For a fortnight more or less

No sniff did it permit me.


Then I saddled my grey steed,

Would pay the bishop a visit;

The hag then rode her mangy goat

And followed me by the minute.


At the bishop’s I complained

And of my woes did sigh;

The old hag though she stood close by,

Each word she called a lie.


The bishop took his Bible out,

Would read us its sacred prose;

Swiftly the hag took up her crutch

And whacked him on the nose.


Then I took me a little boat,

Across the sound would sail;

The hag though took her kneading trough

And me she sought to tail.


Then I took me a smallish ship,

To sail across the sea;

The hag though took her fine grain sieve

And in the depths sank she.


Then I the highest peak did climb.

Oh, how I did laugh and roar;

The hag lay on the deep-sea bed,

She gnashed her teeth and swore.


I went off to the closest town,

Would visit Knud, my neighbour;

Out there came a horrid hag,

The same as mine, I wager.

Not a moment’s peace of mind I got from her.


Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Medieval Scandinavian mundus inversus song: 'Den bakvända Visan'

Den Bakvända Visan


I fjol vid jul då grisa min ko,

Då kalfva min so, då drukna min märr uti solskin.

Jag sadla min stöfvel, jag smorde min häst,

Och sporra bant jag på öra;

Så red jag öfver solen der skogen gick ner,

Der hänk två murknade brömsar,

Der hänk två prester, der sång två lik,

Der satt två brokota hästar.

Jag låg och jag satt,

Jag drömde den natt,

Jag drömde den visan var bakvänd satt.


Den döfve han hörde, den dumbe han log,

Den tumlösa spelte på lira;

Den blinde han skulle gå ut och bese,

Hvad natten hon månde här lida;

Så fick han se en så’n underlig ting,

Den handlöse lekte med flickan sin.

Jag låg och jag satt,

Jag drömde den natt,

Jag drömde den visan var bakvänd satt.


Det var två skator, som byggde ett bo,

De bygga ett bo på vår loge,

Det var två hönor, som spänna en hök,

De flögo med honom åt skogen.

Jag låg och jag satt,

Jag drömde den natt,

Jag drömde den visan var bakvänd satt.


Laxen han klifver i eketopp,

Och ristar ner stora löfgrenar;

Och ekorren springer på hafsens bott,

Och välter upp stora grå stenar.

Jag låg och jag satt,

Jag drömde den natt,

Jag drömde den visan var bakvänd satt.



The topsy-turvy song


At Christmas last, then farrowed my cow,

Then calved my old sow, then drowned my mare in the sunshine

My boots I did saddle, my horse I did grease,

And strapped my spurs to my ear lobes;

I rode o’er the sun where the forest did set,

There hung two half-rotten halters

There hung two clerics, two corpses sang,

There sat two piebald old horses.

I sat and lay down,

In dreams I slept sound,

I dreamt that the song was the wrong way round.


The deaf man could hear, the dumb man he laughed,

The thumbless man played hurdy-gurdy;

The blind man decided to go out and see

Just how the night was progressing;

Then he observed a remarkable thing,

The handless man stroking his sweetheart’s chin. 

I sat and lay down,

In dreams I slept sound,

I dreamt that the song was the wrong way round.


Two magpies there were building a nest,

Were building a nest in our barnhouse,

Two hens there were that were reining a hawk,

They flew off with him to the forest.

I sat and lay down,

In dreams I slept sound,

I dreamt that the song was the wrong way round.


High up the oak-tree the salmon climbs,

And shakes down its big leafy branches;

The squirrel he scurries on the sea-bed,

Upending grey boulders he prances.

I sat and lay down,

In dreams I slept sound,

I dreamt that the song was the wrong way round.


Tuesday, 6 July 2021

A.L. Snijders: 'Standplaats'


Place to stand


The birds only come if there’s food for them. If I’d forgotten to put food out, I didn’t see birds any more, I felt abandoned. I wanted to punish them, they were responsible for my loneliness. I couldn’t punish them, they weren’t there anymore. I always felt they came for my sake, out of gratitude because I had hung up food for them.

My closest neighbour 800 metres further up said: You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. I asked: What’s that got to do with it? The neighbour answered: I don’t know, but I’m certain that the horse and the birds know all right. As a result of this answer, the neighbour and I have fallen out with each other for some time. Fortunately, we don’t notice this all that much, 800 metres is enough if you’re watchful enough.

After a few seasons I changed my opinion without noticing it. If you live alone and don’t have a TV and only other people at the supermarket, the form of opinion is of a different order, in my opinion. I hung op food for the birds again and to my delight saw that the birds returned in large numbers. And something happened that I had never noticed before, the birds did not see me if I stood quite still. If I stood with my head absolutely still and thirty centimetres from the fat ball in a net that I’d hung up, they came to eat from it and did not recognise me as a human being. I had had become a statue, they could use my head as a place to stand. I was enthusiastic, but I couldn’t tell my neighbour that, our quarrel had become a status quo. In addition, I yesterday decided to mingle with other people. I cycled to a pub in a wood I normally never came to. It is an area where somewhat chic people live. The weather was fine, sunny, cold. Although the owner had placed a well-lit brazier of good, dry wood out on the terrace, everyone went inside and sat there. I had been a long time since I had mixed at ease with other people. When I sat aside, I regretted deciding to do this, there were too many with dogs there. I don’t like strange dogs. Next to me sat two affluent ladies who had their recent travels as their topic of conversation. They had been in Boston, in humanist circles, had attended gatherings of high human calibre. They had a dog with them that repeatedly jumped up everywhere. They then shouted ‘down’ in English at it. I knew what that meant, but saw that the dog did not understand their language.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Dan Andersson: 'Onda tankar'


Onda tankar


Att vara skald, profet, och nödgas bo på gatan,

och aldrig veta när ens strid tar slut,

det är väl dock att slåss med själva satan -

och himlen vet väl knappt hur länge man står ut.


Det blir till trots, det kan bli blod och tårar,

bli knytnävskamp i kväll och död i morgon dag,

men aldrig får det bli till sorg och kvinnfolkstårar -

jag är dock intet barn och ingen kvinna är jag.


Och detta kallar jag att fiska hela natten

och aldrig få till lön ett enda litet grand,

att färdas utan ljus på stora, mörka vatten,

men aldrig, aldrig se den minsta skymt av land.


Men finner man en dag min kalla kropp bland döde,

då blev det väl min lön att fredligt ligga där -

då är jag dock en man, som kämpat ut mitt öde,

det är väl dock min rätt att vara den jag är.



Bad thoughts


To be a poet, prophet, live on streets if need be

and never know just when one’s strife will end,

is like to pick a fight with Satan, who’s so greedy

god only knows how long before your mind will bend.


The end’s defiance, blood and salt tears maybe

with fisticuffs tonight and death when morning’s near,

but grief and women’s tears will ne’er betray me –

I’m neither child nor woman, that’s quite clear.


And this I call to fish throughout the night unaided,

with no rewarding catch at all as had been planned,

to beaconless sail on black waters thickly braided,

but never, never catch the slightest glimpse of land.


Should one day my cold corpse among the dead be counted,

then my reward maybe was there in peace to lie –

for then for my own well-fought fate I have accounted,

the right to be myself until the day I die.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Cécile Périn: 'Aube'




Un invisible oiseau dans l’air pur a chanté.

Le ciel d’aube est d’un bleu suave et velouté.


C'est le premier oiseau qui s'éveille et qui chante.

Ecoute! les jardins sont frémissants d'attente.


Ecoute! Un autre nid s'éveille, un autre nid,

Et c’est un pépiement éperdu qui jaillit.


Qui chante le premier? Nul ne le sait. C’est l’aurore.

Comme un abricot mur, le ciel pâli se dore.


Qui chante le premier? Qu’importe? On a chanté.

Et c’est un beau matin de l'immortel été.





A bird has sung above, in clear air, out of view.

The dawn sky has a sheen of smooth and velvet blue.


It is the first of all the birds to wake and sing.

Hark, hark! The waiting gardens quiver at its ring.


Hark, hark! Another nest awakes, and yet one more,

Their frenzied chirping notes gush forth and upwards soar.


Who sings first? There’s no knowing. Dawn comes as of old.

Like apricots that ripen, the pale sky turns gold.


Who sings first? It’s no matter. For there now is song –

Immortal summer’s lovely morning won’t be long.