Monday 28 February 2011

Poem by the Swedish writer Lennart Sjögren


How sharp your teeth are: Pike-head
though the sun’s fried you to the wall
and though winter’s flayed your skin
and though this is already your third year hanging there.

Others have their Progress
others have their Sergeant.
I have you.

There is nothing in your head
that tends towards the friendly.
Even so I wish to count you
one of my closer friends
and possible to talk the language of muteness to.

You definitely do not belong among the demons
nor among the apocalyptics.
You are what you are
what you are is you.

Nor do I wish to include myself
among animal devotees
just because I keep your company.
I do not worship you, even though you belong to
the circle of consolation.

Your path went directly from the watery depths
to the air that is man’s but not yours.
Nor did you seek for mercy
not in my eyes nor those of others.

And what you said in silence when hauled up
I do not know.
Eyes you no longer have, scarcely skin
but your teeth
that slowly eat their way through the sun’s heat
you still bare at me.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Poem by the Flemish writer Jan Mysjkin


I delve into my memories: nothing,
I retrieve nothing.

I have written, and written, and written.
I have noted everything:

The clouds drift by, the river
traverses the plains, the light opens
and shuts.

it leads to nothing.

I note the nothingness so as not to forget it.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Poem by the Dutch poet Peter Swanborn

At the holding of her body, tight
like a child craving attention, but
then silent, turned inwards, I observe
how a life slowly falls apart

To dust, to sand, through my fingers, like
water in a river circulating, first up
from underground, then through land towards
the sea, the shore now still and red.

She cries, I comfort. With closed eyes
she looks at no one, grasps my hand,
slides like a ring the memory

Around my heart. A mind evaporates,
congeals and takes pleasure in another
body, transiently, till I too blow away.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

A poem from 'Hsieh', a collection by the Danish poet Klaus Høeck

i’m eating a burger with
        chips and all the
trimmings i often do this
        but today to de
        monstrate in partic
        ular my contempt
        for the kitsch and haute
        cuisine cult that has
plagued both poetry and
cookery for such a ve
ry long time – may my poem
        taste like a big mac

A final Danish translation for the time being of a poem by John Updike

Fugl fanget i mit rådyrsnet

Hækken må have set ud som altid,
med frø og taksbær gemt under den,
spiseligt små som kun et fugleøje kunne se,

blandet med det brune af tabte nåle og jord –
en tryg stille hule som naturen yder de ydmyge,
listet ind i, til fods, det fjedrede hoved vågent
over for det søgte, de klare øjnes skarpe blikke
overalt, bortset fra dér hvor net var lagt ud.

Og så, i et barmhjertigt ubevidnet øjeblik,
et forsøg på at stige, at flyve, bremset af en
næsten usynlig grænse, med flagrende, fastlåste
vinger, et benægtet dybt instinkt. O den paniske
flaksen og basken, i dagslys og luft,
deres frihed umuligt tæt på, allevegne!

Hvor mange udsultede timer af fortvivlet kamp genoptaget
i anfald af livsraseri blev brugt
for at forsegle og sy de bærklare øjne til
og løse et lillebitte hjertes vilde knude op?
Det kan jeg ikke vide, ved opdagelsen af denne tot
juncofnug, vægtløs og ordløs
i sit hjørne af net som end ikke rådyr kan tygge igennem
ej heller kan brydes af tyngdetrodsende fugleknogler.

To see the original poem go to here 

PS. An excellent example of a poem that should have started with the last verse!

Friday 11 February 2011

Poem by the Dutch writer Anna Enquist

First violin

He has at most two yards
of strings, and pure white
flaxen hair. Thinks: I am
the resounding heart. Prefers
to play close to the bath,
shrouded by richoceted
sound, giddied
by stone and glass.

Reeling and dazed by boundless
height, bowing he makes
his own that which he dares not
think about: the steady
beat of time which steals all you hold
dear and later will destroy.

There is a dripping tap
but he’s consigned to paradise
as long as sound commands belief.

This poem can be seen together with one about the cello
posted a year ago here

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Translation of a famous poem by the American poet Wallace Stevens


Man må have vinterens sind
For at betragte frosten og grantræernes
Grene med deres sneskorpe,

Og have frosset længe
For at se enebærtræerne med deres istakker,
Fyrretræerne uskarpe i vintersolens

Fjerne glitter, og ikke at tænke på
Nogen form for elendighed i lyden af vinden
I lyden af nogle få blade,

Som er lyden af landet
Fuld af samme vind
Der blæser på detsamme tomme sted

For tilhøreren, som lytter i sneen,
Og, selv intet, ser
Intet som ikke er der og det intet som er.

To see the original poem go to here

Sunday 6 February 2011

A poem that became a well-known Danish song, the text by the 19th century writer B.S. Ingemann

Peace rests o’er town and countryside

Peace rests o’er town and countryside,
no worldly noises mar:
at its own cloud the moon smiles wide,
till star can gaze on star.

And smooth and shining lies the lake,
the sky in its embrace,
on bleach greens guards keep distant wake
and praise the God of grace.

It is so still, with all at rest
in heav’n and here on earth,
be also still now in my breast,
you fugitive since birth!

Make peace, oh heart, with every soul
that fails to read you here,
And peace’s angel now behold,
o’er town and vale so near.

Like you, he is a stranger here:
his mind’s on heaven set,
yet in the tranquil starlight clear
like you, he lingers yet.

Oh, learn from him your evening song:
peace with each soul on earth!
We for a common heaven long,
although our paths diverge.

Peace with each heart, both far and near,
that restlessness may gnaw!
Peace with the few that hold me dear,
and those I never saw!

Saturday 5 February 2011

Poem by the Norwegian poet Erling Kittelsen


Våren knirker, stilkens honning
vinteren går kvasst forbi



Spring is creaking, the stem’s honey
winter keenly passes

the divisions
reflect the

i (1995)

Friday 4 February 2011

With my dripping schnozzle, it's time for an uplifting song from Benny Andersen's 'Svantes Viser'. For other translated songs, please consult the index.


Washing can flap while its drying.
Young kids get spots that are trying.
Girls must take teasing
and football’s unceasing
for now it is summer in Denmark.

Days now seem shorter and gloomy.
Schoolkids unruly and rheumy.
Clothes get outdated
tears flow unabated
for now it is autumn in Denmark.

Deaths. New divorces. Long novels.
Plans in cold storage and snuffles.
Noses start dripping
and schnozzles start dipping
for now it is winter in Denmark.

Flowers bloom in meadows or vases.
Beating of mats all surpasses.
Paths are regravelled
and poems unravelled
for now it is springtime in Denmark.

Thursday 3 February 2011

Poem by the Belgian poet Roland Jooris


Can one draw a scratch of thought into the shaft
of a line that after long perusal suddenly head-on
finds its own depth?

Can one see hear it in the glance of the
white, in a wing that touches its shadow,
in the viewing that hatches a window-pane?

The artist stakes out silence, takes over time,
retreats, omits, only holds on to
what leads to essence: the stem of a
nude, the churlish chair, the cross, the man
alienated from his presence.

The artist seeks the detachment of nothingness
in the astonishment at what a line, a spot,
a streak can bring to life: the existence that
breaks out of things, the soul called pencil
or ink, graphite or chalk, the hand
that then comes from above

Tuesday 1 February 2011

A poem by the Norwegian writer Torgeir Rebolledo Pedersen


love isn’t just a stick that
can take us as

fast as possible
high as possible

love’s not something
you simply can throw

if love is just a stick then
what is desire

desire is a doggie
desire’s our best friend

assuming that love
is a stick

February poem from Klaus Høeck's '1001 POEMS'

        i picked up the ace
of clubs and didn’t find it
        all that odd because
        for me it repre
sented each and every tree
        out there in the win
        ter as well as all
the woods of turquoise deep in
        side my mind where the
        iron cross of poe
try tipped strangely northwards near
        langesø chapel