Sunday 29 April 2012

Poem by the Norwegian writer
Gro Dahle

I carve my daughter

I carve my daughter out of sallow. Whittle a flute
from her fingers. When I blow on her, I hear
how beautifully she cries.

I dress myself with my child. A coat of mail. Armour. A
daughter shield. Hold her in front of me on my lap.
My lap is a throne. The people are jubilant.

Thursday 26 April 2012

Poem by the Norwegian poet
Olav Nygaard (1884-1924)

Now evening rises

Now evening rises at the western edge
through farmhouse yards his way he lightly treads,
hangs mountains inbetween with muted shading.
Through scrub and heather whispering’s heard soon
and as it sings the throstle changes tune
with twilight tremolo its call pervading.

But firmly of his steed’s reins day takes hold
puts on his great cloak etched with seams of gold
twixt far horizons hurries at light’s closing.
A breeze moves through cool vale and mountain side
where shadow’s waiting for the night, his bride
and swooning in his dreams of love is dozing.

And breathing gently night then enters in
with dark locks round her neck and cheek’s smooth skin
and shawl of elfine mists that swirl so lightly.
And dulcet tones, th’aeolian harp’s sweet charms,
rise shyly like a girl from mother’s arms
and float in cool realms light of foot and sprightly.

A quiv’ring bliss is felt twixt mountains tall
so seed starts growing, skins are sloughed and fall
and eyes turn upwards dazed by some great wonder:
from deepest heav’n sounds swell’s surge full and strong,
the endless urge to procreate, spheres’ song
that greets as kinsfolk those dark shores far yonder.

To see the original, go to here.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Poem by the Norwegian writer
Aasmund Olafsson Vinje (1818-1870)

At Rondane

Once more such heights and valleys stand before me
as those I saw when my first youth held sway;
my heated brow the selfsame wind cools for me,
and gold lies on the snow, as once it lay.
A childhood language speaks that seems to awe me
and make me thoughtful, although also gay,
And childhood memories the words are wreathing:
It streams out to me, almost stops me breathing.

Yes, life streams out now as I felt it streaming
when under snow I saw the green shoots rise.
I’m dreaming now, as once I stood there dreaming
when I such mountains saw ’gainst bright blue skies.
Forgotten is day’s strife, as ’twas at evening
when glimpsing sun’s last rays would be my prize.
I’m sure to find a house that heeds my calling,
with sun to light my way home ere night’s falling.

All’s as before, transfigured, seen more clearly,
with daylight seeming brighter than way back.
And that which bit and cut me so severely
the actual shadow now makes seem less black;
e’en that which tempted me to sin, or nearly,
e’en that hard rock makes softer in attack.
Old thoughts, now reconciled, extend a greeting:
though older, it is still the same heart beating.

And every stone seems known where’er I’m wending,
for ’mongst such stones did I once run about.
As if they were great giants fiercely contending,
I ask this peak and that who’ll win their bout.
All things remind me in a chain unending
till deep down in the snow the sun goes out.
And till the final sleep one day enfolds me
old memories and shadows will console me.

A very famous poem. For the original, go to here.
To listen to the first two verses with music by Grieg, go to here

Monday 23 April 2012

Poem by the Norwegian writer Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1832-1910)

The hare and the fox

The fox he lay ’neath the birch-tree root
by the heather.
The hare she scuttled with agile foot
o’er the heather.
The day’s plain sunshine I do declare!
it’s shining here there and everywhere
o’er the heather.

The fox he grinned ’neath the birch-tree root
by the heather.
The hare she scuttled and off did shoot
o’er the heather.
I’m so delighted at everything
shoo-hay, can you match such leaps and springs
o’er the heather?

The fox lay still at the birch-tree root
by the heather.
The hare she tumbled right to his foot
o’er the heather.
But goodness gracious, can that be you! – –
– My dear, and dare you be dancing too
o’er the heather?

To see the original, go to here.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Poem by the Norwegian writer
Tarjei Vesaas (1897-1970)

There’s rowing and rowing

The day is past –
and there’s rowing and rowing

The dark mass of rock,
darker than the evening,
leans over the water
with black folds:
A caved-in face
with its mouth in the lake.
No one knows all.

There’s rowing and rowing,
in rings,
for the rock sucks.
Confused splashes on deep water.
Exhausted creaks from wood.
Confused and faithful soul that rows
and soon can be sucked down.

He too stands there
the other,
the one in the rock-folds
in blacker than black,
and listens outwards.
Paralysed with shame.
Stiffly listening.
Stiff with fright
for here there’s rowing.

Then there must be gusts and blue-gleaming
back and forth
like warm breezes
and like frost.

There’s rowing and rowing tonight.
There’s no one seeing and seeing.
No one knows
who licks at the rock
when it is dark.
No one knows the bed
of Lake Angst.
No one knows
who it is that cannot row.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Poem by the Norwegian writer
Paal-Helge Haugen (1945- )

Late day, dreary light

Late day, dreary light
in through grimy panes
high up on a wall
some wall or other
in some room or other
in some century or other
In the straw on the floor the dog
an old scrawny bitch
with a swollen belly
is lying on its reeking bed
giving birth, twitching and convulsing
while the light leaves her
slants higher up the wall
Gives birth to wet life in the straw
goes on giving birth beyond all
meaning, all reason
into the night that enters
through panes, down walls
as the convulsions subside
in all the bodies

Friday 13 April 2012

Poem by the Norwegian writer
Åsmund Sveen (1910–1963)

The birdcatcher

He went through the forest in the early light, hidden in the depths
he roamed past me, his steps fading softly in last year’s
leaves. I cried out in joy to the lime tree, glimpsed a golden
heart in its rustling, it quivered so lightly when I flew
to meet it, but the heart was a snare.

Oh then I knew who he was, the one who goes through the forest
setting out snares! I flapped my wings till they bled while the dew
sprayed from the branch, but the snare held. The snare of gold thread held
me fast all day long. The evening came and went with a smile,
friendly, without pity, and darkness crept close. In the dark the owls are
out with their yellow eyes, but I took no notice of them, out of fear
of the birdcatcher I did not not dread them. I called out to
God, he who blackly sweeps through the tree-tops each night, the lord
of all birds: Save me from the birdcatcher! Let the owls
have my heart’s blood!

But when he came in the silent dawn with his long knife and
his heavy gun and leaned over into the leaves and took me
up in his hand, my heart beat like a sky in great tumult.
– Evil birdcatcher! I breathed. His smile was
mild and sorrowful when my eyes broke. I am God,
he whispered. And my blood coloured his huge hands.

Thursday 12 April 2012

Poem by the Norwegian writer
Nils Collett Vogt (1864-1937)

Were I but a forest spruce tree –

It’s already now late autumn.
Gone the quiver in the air.
Ice-blue now it stands and stares
at the columns of sleek birch,
which like yellow altar flames
gleam within the forest’s church.

At the winter storm’s arrival –
all the forest starts and shudders
and the altar candles’ light
at first tremble dies from sight,
leaves swirl round like sparks in flurries,
pale the sky grows, snow starts falling, –
tall spruce only are not passive,
but like banners, huge and massive
through the forest halls start calling.

Then it is I roam the forest,
and I hear the wind that’s sighing,
tugging at the well-worn summits,
howling round the rock’s black shelf
that from its great sheerness plummets.
And I think then to myself:
You’re no penny-candle light
that at some faint gust starts dying!

Were I but a forest spruce tree
which, when winter storms convene –
pale the sky grows, snow starts falling –
through the forest halls starts calling
like a mighty unfurled banner,
till the coming summer’s green!

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Poem by the Dutch writer
Gerrit Komrij

De schoolverlater

Een rijstebrijberg ben ik doorgegaan
Van schoolse weetjes en verplichte stof,
Waar drang naar vrijheid niet was toegestaan
Waar alles op mij viel en niets mij trof –

Tot ik belandde in een open veld,
Ver van de regels en de kouwe drukte,
Waar mij een pauw van wijsheid heeft verteld
En ik de kennis van de bomen plukte.

Ik had voor nutteloosheid alle tijd
En trof daar goud aan als ik kiezels zocht.
Die wereld heette universiteit -

Een wereld die nu, hoor je wel beweren,
Aan wolf en snelheidsduivel wordt verkocht -
Alsof je bankpapier op brood kunt smeren.

The school-leaver

A mountain of rice pud I waded through,
Set reading and a host of bookish facts,
Where every urge for freedom was taboo
Where nothing stuck though all fell on my back.

Until I landed in an open field,
Far from that rule-bound, cold, oppressive place;
Wisdom a peacock to me there revealed
And knowledge from the trees I picked apace.

For uselessness my time was all my own
And I struck gold when all I sought was shale.
As university that world was known –

A world that one can hear folk claim instead
To wolves and speed hogs now is up for sale –
As if you could spread banknotes on your bread.

Poem by the Norwegian writer
Eldrid Lunden


is something we only can talk about
from a place outside emptiness
Emptiness does not exist
in a natural
In the atmosphere the empty space will
be invaded by what lies around it
If this seems highly abstract to us
we can set up an empty space
on the lawn and see
what happens

(Eldrid Lunden, 2005)

To see the original poem, go to here.

Saturday 7 April 2012

Poem by the Norwegian writer
Olav H. Hauge, 1908-1994


Truth is a shy bird
a Roc that
roams outside time,
at times before
at times after.
Some say it
doesn’t exist
those who have seen it
stay silent.

I have never thought of truth
as a domestic bird,
but it it was such,
you can try stroking it along its feathers
rather than chasing it into a corner
till it turns owl-eyed and would claw you.

Others consider truth
a cold knife-edge,
it is both
yin and yang,
the snake in the grass,
and the wren lifting from the eagle
when it thinks itself highest.

I have also seen
truth dead:
its eyes those of a frost-stiffened hare.

Friday 6 April 2012

Poem by the Norwegian poet
Harald Sverdrup (1923–92)

Stroke the cat

If you’re feeling down,
then fix your hair.
If you’re still feeling down
then stroke the cat.
I’m not saying it’s cowardly
to take your own life.
To live it takes great courage
and a cat’s wildness,
think of being trapped
in a sack with stones
and submerged in water
(I have seen a cat
with life number ten intact
rub itself up against
its nine-time killer).

Tuesday 3 April 2012

A poem by the Dutch poet
Hans Dekkers

Max Reger aan het IJ

Halverwege het klarinetkwintet
zoek ik het water, waarop de zon
zijn koude ingewanden legt.
Gedachten stuiteren rond
vallen uiteen in brokken licht.
Meeuwen tuimelen,
terwijl jij langzaam wegglijdt,
diffuser wordt, oplost.
Ik kijk in de zon, wil een pijn voelen.
De laatste noten klinken,

Max Reger on the IJ

Halfway through the clarinet quintet
I look for the water, on which the sun
is laying its cold entrails.
Thoughts skitter around
splinter into shards of light.
Seagulls tumble,
while you slowly slide away,
grow more diffuse, dissolve.
I look into the sun, would feel a pain.
The last notes sound,

A poem by the Norwegian poet
Johan Sebastian Welhaven (1807-73)

The snow’s now falling thick and fast

The snow’s now falling thick and fast,
And the boy runs hither and thither.
A great many miles does he slither
And slide now before the day’s past.

Great blocks of snow in the courtyard he rolls,
And into stout soldiers he makes them;
Much effort and toil does it take him.
The soldiers are given eyes made of coal.

He trundles the snow as if in a trance,
While the towering warriors stand gazing;
A breastwork he now works on raising.
The broomstick he gives them serves as a lance.

And now he is done, and his strength is no more;
His hands are both frozen and stinging.
With strong dreams soon to be winging
A restless night the boy has in store.

You hear him exclaim, the tired little one:
‘Tomorrow they all will do battle!’
Then rainclouds the sky shake and rattle,
And his warriors soon are all gone.