Wednesday 13 June 2012

Another poem by Lars Gustafsson



Difference between forest birds
capable of flying up without a sound,
even where the trees are at their most dense
like rapid and silent thoughts – those
we prefer not to mention by name –
and sea birds with their rhetorical way
of leaving the water behind them and rising
into the cooling air of the autumn day:
trumpets over the wind-still lakes.
Less prudent perhaps.
Or some other kind of wisdom:
They have their prey below the surface.

The crows, black vortex
above the tree dead far too early.
A band of gangsters gathering for dire deeds,
something reminds one of a party of revolutionaries:
they slink into the café, one by one,
in worn black overcoats.
But also philosophers, sharp profiles,
profound pessimists: how superficial,
how talkatively coquettish do magpies not seem
beside these large dark birds
with their serious contours
against evening clouds,
Middle Ages, Gallows Hill, Battlefield:
what do they not know about humanity!
The crows that always gather
in the bare tree
after every really great storm
so as – against cloud cover rapidly ripped apart,
the tatters of which flee like horsemen
from some scattered corps –
to seriously discuss
the changed situation
that has now arisen.


The wind sweeps in over the low
salt meadows.
The wall of the thunderstorm towers up
above the large lake.
Meekly the old town huddles
with its red houses
and white window ledges
between heavy hedgerows of raspberry
where a last bumblebee still buzzes.
On the wind the sweeter scent of meadowsweet.
The horses, strangers,
lean their lizard-like necks against each other,
captives in the dizzying shaft of light.

A harrier
hangs alone and still
on the increasing wind
above the low, waterlogged salt meadows.
And the wind has the scent
of leaden bays, raw waters and autumn.

4 (The great crested grebe)

In the pure clear autumn evenings
in small groups ahead of the motorboat’s prow.
And disappearing without fear, without flurry,
simply because
is its natural art-form.

I have often wished
that I could follow it
also on its other flight.
Does it view the water’s surface
as a second sky?
What are its heavy wing-strokes under water like?

Does it consider itself
the same bird in two separate spaces?
The one ruled by winds,
the other by cool deep currents?

The tree with quivering leaves.
The long tresses of the sea-grass in the current
where the cold bottom spring meets the lake.

How can it fuse
such separate things into one life?
Or does it consider itself
two birds
that meet for an instant at the

dizzying, mute boundary of the water’s surface?

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