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.

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