Wednesday 19 June 2024

Anna Greta Wide: 'Det knaggliga. Det småttiga'

 



Det knaggliga. Det småttiga.

Det av rena toner och klara tårar evigt oförlösta.

Själens småsår, alltid på samma ställen,

upprivna, alltid på nytt, av samma smutsiga naglar.

Knappast blödande. Bara kliande.

Blod är skönt och farligt. Klåda är bara löjlig,

löjlig och ful ... Och ingen kärlek hjälper —

bara smärtan kan, i en stund av bittraste frihet,

plötsligt rista ett rakt rött streck över alltsammans,

blödande ymnigt och rent.

 

 

The craggy. The piffling.

The eternally unresolved by pure tones and clear tears.

The soul’s small wounds, always in the same places,

scratched open, time after time, by the same dirty nails.

Hardly bleeding. Merely itching.

Blood is lovely and dangerous. Itchiness simply pitiful,

pitiful and ugly… And no love helps –

only pain can, in a moment of the bitterest freedom,

suddenly to slash a straight red streak through everything,

bloodily copious and pure.

 

 

Sunday 16 June 2024

Ragnar Thoursie: 'Kråkorna skrattar'

 




The crows are laughing



Contents

 

 

 

Prelude:

CROWS AROUND TEGNÉR

 

 

Chorus of crows’ and old men’s voices:

EARTHLY LAMENTATION

Motto from Esias Tegnér’s ‘Spleen’, 1825

 

I                    (To annihilation)

II                  (November)

III                (Hearing of prayer)

IV                (Death unavoidable)

V                  (Death’s kiss)

VI                (The crow and the old man)

VII               (The old man and the swallows)

VIII             (Downwards)

IX                (The final room)

X                  (The waiting)

XI                (Tired of life)

XII              (Wordless poem)

XIII            (Repairing tailor)

XIV             (Washing day at the old-man poet’s)

XV               (Poet at twilight)

XVI             (Madman’s guard)

XVII           (The devil’s mirror)

XVIII         (The harangue)

XIX             (Cancer’s secret)

XX               (The old man’s complaint)

XXI             (The mark)

XXII           (Alone)

XXIII         (On sight and care)

XXIV         (Cold)

XXV           (Understand first now)

XXVI         (Lamentation)

XXVII       (Blessed beverage)

 

 

 


 

 

 

The crows are laughing

 


 

Prelude:

 

Crows around Tegnér

 

 

Crows in sleet;

black limes against the white sky of the episcopal

residence. The scavengers flock together, laugh

at Death, the Right Reverend,

my torment. And under the Cathedral’s double spire – a

skyward claw – the scrawny city huddles.

 

In broad daylight, shamelessly to any eye-

witness, he comes in the litter, ‘The Old Man on the Hill’;

crows escort him – they start their

day’s work. Soon as witnesses they sit wide-eyed in a row on a roof-edge

resemble poorly-paid clergymen; black

cloaks folded on their backs and stained waistcoats.

Along with co-opted house-sparrows: peck at horse droppings

on Main Street.

                                           All this while Doctor Selldén’s wife lifts her chemise

                                                                                                   for the great man.

 

They believe they have seen what ought not to be seen.

They believe they have heard what ought not to be heard.

They believe something has happened anew that ought not to happen.

They caw indignantly their message

with cracked voices into the late-winter day.

 

. . .

 

What is the more shameless? To caw

like crows in Växjö – every morning the gossip

becomes World History. Or to make love

to Emili and subsequently mount a pulpit.

 

What does the early-bird crow care about the night’s

torment. What do those that yawn and gossip,

that flutter their black wings at the sky in the daytime

matter to you when you alone

                                                         are to meet our Lord and Maker.

 

 

 

 

Chorus

of crow and old men’s voices

 

 

Earthly lamentation

 

 

 

 

 

‘Tell me, you watchman, how the night progresses!

Is it unceasing, will it never end?

The moon, half-eaten, through the sky’s still presses,

The tearful stars still through the heavens wend.

My pulse beats fast as in my youth’s successes,

Hours of affliction though it cannot mend.’

 

 

 

I

 

Today myriads of vermin, small black

bugs: on my profusely flowering Hibiscus.

 

And in my life they also gush forth – unexpectedly

myriads of black memory-bugs: fierce small

nips, poisonous words, mortal stings, hordes of secret signs

of hatred... Time to put an end to this, my Hibiscus!

 

 

II

 

Darkness slowly descends

over my garden. Soon only black

contours visible: the juniper on its lonely

watch in the snow, and the impenetrable hedge.

Night grows more compact around my life, what is past.

Only the longing for You lights with a flickering flame.

 

 

III

 

Else I’d expected on life’s last slope.

Carnations, not hatred’s envelope.

 

Clothes black as night. Faces veils are concealing.

Guests sadly gliding, with shoes that are gleaming.

Then she thanks God, who has answered her prayer.

 

 

IV

 

Death unavoidable

is blocking my path.

With an evil grin,

the keen scythe

laid over his knee.

 

Doesn’t budge this time.

Wants to see me give way.

 

-------------

 

Don’t believe Death –

not mild, but scrawny.

No, He hacks

hungrily with the axe.

 

Gauges exactly

the depth of your torment.

 

-------------

 

Spruce forest snow-laden

mile upon mile.

Such is the path

 

up to the old one’s meeting.

 

 

V

 

Poor my preparation.

Woe, alas and dread in my soul.

It most resembles a rag in shreds.

No plucky resolve to stay silent

and suffer. No, a coward’s

moaning, when night tightly holds me.

       A kiss so cold, a claw-like toe.

       What use is welfare on

       a farewell journey. No son, no sister

       allays death’s pain,

       now numbing my heart.

 

 

VI

 

Dirty grey, ruffled by rain,

heavy with years, despised.

- Crow in the courtyard. Attempts a dignified walk:

teeters, totters, scouts (like a weather-vane);

 

laboriously takes off, a crash,

                                           to another corner of the yard.

 

. . .

 

Behind the curtain a pop-eyed old man.

Scratches his beard-stubble, his nails cracked,

nasty taste in his mouth: lonely

                                                                the final years.

 

 

VII

 

Close to the heavy front-door of my rented lodgings

       (that will be my last)

swallows have built their airy nest, briefly,

       in a ventilator eaten by rust.

 

Old man thinks every morning: - Ah, if only my soul

       could leave earthly life as lightly as those on the wing!

 

 

VIII

 

Sixteen stairs. Heavier each

time; hand on banister. Somewhere

memory fails. Seventh stair

and the old man’s forgotten:

Why did I set out? Thinks: count-

less rounds, up – and down.

Up to carry out,

down to recall. What.

Slowly life passes. Downwards.

 

 

IX

 

Four walls limit

my field of vision, the ceiling a lid:

a box, rented from co-op housing.

Wait and see – when the contract

the white one signed by the Lord

may expire and the box be nailed shut again...

 

like a coffin – it soon shall be closed, and reassured

I once more whisper through my evening prayer.

 

 

X

 

Precisely, almost scientifically

pedantically I keep the ledger of my

nonsensical life. In so doing

bring order into what it is meaning-

less. While waiting.

 

 

XI

 

Lion in cage.

Three paces, satiated with power.

And back. The broad nose

kisses the steel wall.

 

I likewise in my final

asylum: lap upon lap

my thoughts take

the last paces. In vain

 

searching for an exit.

 

 

XII

 

Old poet writes poems

                                           about death.

As if discovered first now

                                           where life is heading.

Astonished the eye blinks at the inexorable.

No longer a play on words – no

                                           a wordless while

when you conclude your last poem.

 

 

XIII

 

Old trousers as if new – before

when they were turned inside-out.

 

But the known, accustomed

and much-turned words: turn them

around and inside out. But no

more meaning came out of that!

 

 

XIV

 

Old-man poet much to do:

Mops up a drop, dirty behind.

Darns a stanza that’s got a hole.

- White as a sheet, I grassp my penn.

Oh, what laundrying it would need

were I to wash my past until

clean! Here all that’s to be done is

to darn and mend and wash one’s life’s

most noticeable stains.

 

 

XV

 

Seven lines, seldom more.

And yet too much.

 

So little his day’s work

and yet immense:

 

                      to find

                      the final

                                    words.

 

 

XVI

 

The deranged, demented, debilitated

deservedly guarded.

 

Arrogantly rattling heavy

key-bunches of prohibitions.

 

. . .

 

But no longer do the

keys fit his existence.

 

Seeks in vain to guard

over his own insanity.

 

 

XVII

 

Pointed nose, varicosed legs.

paunch heavy and ditto pouch.

Memory poor – for injusticies ever young.

Coquettish: wig awry and a wine-

red swearing to the black ulster.

Look in the mirror: Who are you like,

old man? Oh yes, the Evil One himself;

 

friendly smile he still bestows

on your world whose end near grows.

 

 

XVIII

 

Like an intractable old crone:

knows plenty, has learnt little.

shuts her dentured mouth up tight

except when it ought to stay silent.

Blue veins, red eye-slits,

strands of beard – and yet coquetting

with her conceit. Boasts

of her age, insists on respect

for her ailments. Sucks on her

lump of sugar. Such is

 

Humanity’s last madness: wrangles with death.

 

 

XIX

 

Grey-stony. Stock-still. Mute.

So does the old man seem: Seals off his mind

from the world. Broods on himself;

remembers. And all the while the cancer

 

grows in his flesh, incessantly: The only thing

that lives – works indefatigably towards death.

 

 

XX

 

Give up! All time’s no longer yours.

Your time is up! Always you

hope in vain. The Angel’s

revelation came to pass too late.

A grave prepared! From blackest soil grows

                                    worms’ yellowest rose.

 

 

XXI

 

Today – how far away

the present is for sure.

       How unreal

reality.

       How uncertain

the only certain thing.

 

-----------

 

All the temporary

seems permanent.

All our efforts, so futile

       richly rewarded!

All our striving, so absurd,

       the only noble thing!

 

-----------

 

The present,

the real,

the only certain thing: –

       my limbs’ mark,

       the sign of putrefaction!

 

 

XXII

 

Of love the grown-ups do not speak

to the lad who is in anguish.

 

The path to death the old man

takes alone in torment.

 

       Yes, all the gravity of life

       must be learnt alone.

 

 

XXIII

 

Misty my gaze:

looks away

ever further away.

 

As if earlier

clear-sightedness had been

in what was closest?

 

No, I see

I’ve never seen –

never perceived

 

what is closest to me.

 

 

XXIV

 

Crow on chimney presses.

       Seeks a smidgin of warmth.

 

I have recourse to the same

       in memory of you.

 

 

XXV

 

Understand first now

what I’ve always known.

 

       To live

       Is to be crushed.

 

       To live on –

       become whole anew.

 

 

XXVI

 

Good thing no one can hear me – except the Lord

on high! From where he has seen so much devilry.

Buchenwald, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua and Gulag.

The question is whether he is in the slightest bit

interested in me lying here in Växjö

awake in my white nightshirt and howling soul.

 

 

XXVII

 

                                                                Inspection of Granhult’s old church

 

‘The evil elf bit without warning deep into my heart.’

Then did I flee to the Lord’s sacred sanctuary –

but found here too a place full of Devils painted on wood

in great magnificence, in green and gold, with jowls

run red and venom running down for a hundred years.

What succour came from the Vicar’s words and Dove above his head!

I was tormented by endless singing, from old crones with dragons’

necks and old men like me on the edge of the grave.

Only a deceased field-mouse under the pew kept my heart

awake. Finally the litany was over. We trooped out like

criminals. Though in the parish house the soul felt freer.

– God’s word is great; but its light does not light up our dead bodies

until after talk of this and that and several cups of coffee.