Thursday 3 December 2009

The famous Norwegian poet Henrik Wergeland - Jan van Huysum's Flower Piece

Yet another watershed at 1840, the year this long work was first published in Norway and changed the literary scene for ever. Here is an extract from the first section in verse. The whole translation has been handsomely published by Maia Press in 2009.


Clumsy human admiration
that needs air and lips to say it!
Clumsier than the shy wonder
humble beasts display, you blunder
wholly in your adoration
squander in rapt adulation; --
with your passion’s savage heart
you misuse your love and slay it:
your adored unsullied art.
          Woe, if now that I need utter
(so compelled I sense my breast
gently moan when it is pressed)
I should cause this drop to flutter
from van Huysum’s soft rose petal
shaken by my lips’ rough breath!
Spring breeze, giddy, slow to settle,
shows more mercy if you will:
Dew’s bright gleam from grove and hedge
rain with iridescent edge,
hid in lady’s-mantle folds
every drop the eye beholds
it has plundered recklessly
in the air has scattered free
.. this one only lies there still,
at its rim like teardrop borne
trembling by an eyelash worn,
outmost in your diadem,
anguish that is sweet and tender
rolled on by your weighty gem;
lovely as the pearl whose splendour
merits it the heart of stars;
full as Magdalena’s tears
full and heavy, almost bursting;
shattering and yet still whole,
as sound counsel ripeness nears
in an angel’s saddened soul.

Click to enlarge.

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