Monday 12 March 2012

Poem by the Swedish writer
Karin Boye (1900-41)

Yes pain is what’s felt

Yes pain is what’s felt when buds burst open.
Why should spring otherwise choose to linger?
Why should the fiery heat of our desire
stay bound in what’s frozen, palely bitter?
The bud was so well hidden throughout winter.
What newness is this that’s so all-exposing?
Yes, pain is what’s felt when buds burst open,
pain for what’s growing
                                    and what’s now closing.

Yes it can feel hard when drops are falling.
Shivering with fear, heavily hanging,
cleaving to their branches, swelling, sliding –
pulled down by their weight they go on clinging.
Hard to be unsure, afraid, divided,
hard to sense the depths’ seductive calling,
and yet remain there and simply quiver –
hard to wish to stay
                                    and wish for falling.

Then, when at its worst, with all help failing,
as if in rapture tree’s buds burst in clusters,
then, when there’s no fear left to be endured,
the drops on branches fall in gleaming lustre,
forget that what is new once made them quail,
forget that they were anxious at the journey –
feel for an instant perfectly secure,
rest in the reliance
                                    that creates the world.

This poem is extremely well-known. Some people consider it 'over the top', but after translating it, I have to admit it commands respect.  Striking is the very high percentage of female endings to lines. I have tried to retain this as much as possible, since it is an integral part of the mood created.
To hear her read the poem, go to here.

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