Thursday 1 September 2011

A poem by the Danish poet Michael Strunge (1958-86)

The Machinery of Night

Slowly the night is charged by the city’s lights.
The star buttons blink
and on the moon-screen the first images can be seen.
Oh, I am lulled as on a steamer,
a heavy express train through the dark,
fly high in the Machinery of Night.
The clouds of dream-steam
whisper whitely to the earth.
The Machinery of Night works away, absorbing human souls.
The dark is packed tight with a buzz of energy...

I am at a concert in the Machinery of Rock.
The week’s survivors crowd around the small stage
the air is hot with music.
We are in trance and urge
the boundaries beween the sexes,
between dimensions of reality,
dancing in trance-formations
somewhere in the sleeping city.
We are exhausted little angels
with wings of future-song,
with the child in our blood and a fag in our mug.

Our skin is of the frailest dream
and our hearts gleam brighter than neon.
We’ve been blighted by the harsh lights of day,
bleeding pink snow,
speared by newspaper headlines.
We are a part of the Machinery of Night
transform fear into friendship.
We wear our brains with pride
exchange dreams and cigarettes,
fill ourselves with ecstasy and music
change sex and masks...

Later we go home our separate ways
pass through the Machinery of Night with new identities
along publicly determined routes.
Large black lumps of sleep fall
from the oil-sky into our eyes.
We fall asleep as single-cell organisms
from the time when the earth was sea.


Anonymous said...

I respectfully, but strongly disagree with the translation of the title.

Strunge did call it "Natmaskinen" and not "Nattens Maskineri". You have translated it as "Nattens Maskineri".

I think a better, and more correct translation would be "the Nightmachine"

John Irons said...

i think strunge is quoting ginsberg:
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night.”
― Allen Ginsberg

Anonymous said...

fag is translated from the word 'smøg' so it means unambiguously cigarette

John Irons said...

i'm mystified by the comment on 'fag', which is completely normal slang for a cigarette, just as 'mug' or 'gob' is for the mouth. as such, the english is a natural translation of 'smøgen i kæften'.