Thursday 31 October 2013

A Grundtvig Old Testament narrative - told with great zest!

The Tower of Babel

Beside the Euphrates in far Asian climes,
Where now live but tiger and lion,
Thronged dwarf-minded giants in pre-ancient times
To try out their skills strong as iron;
But the Lord God was ever their Master.

They said: What has never been heard of before,
And no one will emulate ever,
Of bricks let us build to the heavens a tower,
A landmark of human endeavour!
But the Lord God was ever their Master.

A city around it then let us build too,
So great that we’ll all be contained there,
Should hills be submerged by the river anew,
We’ll dare to cross swords on the plains there!
But the Lord God was ever their Master.

The clay was then kneaded, the bricks were all fired,
And glue was then boiled with elation,
They thought, it can’t fail for our plan is inspired,
It’s worthy of all admiration.
Yet the Lord God was ever their Master.

A language most wonderful all of them prized,
A relic of Eden’s past glory,
Which made all mankind here on earth fully wise,
And saved it much trouble and worry.
But the Lord God was ever their Master.

Then God said: I’ll have to! It’s for their own good!
Their speech all awry let’s be throwing!
And no more each other they then understood
Than horses can cocks when they’re crowing.
For the Lord God is ever their Master.

And Babel, confusion, was all they could say,
Each other they blamed, more’s the pity,
The name given, Babel, is there to this day –
The tower as well as the city.
For the Lord God was ever their Master.

And each went his way then, both grieving and dour,
Though equal, yet different they sounded
Just Nimrod a castle made out of the tower
And Babylon’s kingdom he founded.
For the Lord God was ever their Master.

Whenever the wise men now flock to the town,
And form a great tower t’ward the heavens,
God makes a new Babel and blows them all down
Like chaff they’re at sixes and sevens;
For the Lord God is ever their Master!

Tuesday 29 October 2013

A Hugo Claus poem

what to speak about

What to speak about tonight? And preach
in a land we recognise, tolerate,
seldom forget.
That country with its droll beginnings,
its clammy climate, its sapless stories
about the old days,
its inhabitants, greedy till their final fall
among the cauliflowers.
They keep on multiplying
in a paradise of their own imagining,
hankering for happiness, shivering, mouths full of porridge.
Just as in nature
which depilates our puny hills,
scorches our pastures, poisons our air,
the guileless cows graze on.

Speak about the writings of this land,
printed matter full of question marks
on the patient paper
that time and again is shocked by its history
and so resorts to concealing shorthand.
Speak about the curtains
that people draw around themselves.
But still we hear them, the stinking
primates that stalk each other in rooms.
Just as in nature
the hibiscus gives off no scent,
that the innocent cows do, becoming bogged
in the piss-logged earth.

Speak in that land of glittering grass
in which man,
intemperate worm,.dreaming carcass,
dwells among the corpses which dead as they are
remain obedient to our memory.
Just as our nature expects a single,
simple miracle that one day will finally
explain what we were,
not only this remote spectacle
thrown together by time.

Speak about that time which, they said,
would mark as a brand and palimpsest?
We lived in an aged of using
and being usable.
What defence against such?
What festive arse-feathers?
What cellar song? Perhaps.
Say it. Perhaps.
A few swift scratches in slate
and that’s the outline of your love.
Fingerprints in the clay are her hips.
Phonemes of joy sometimes sounded
if she, when she, called you like a cat.

Speaking about her presence
wakens the blue hour of twilight.
Just as in nature
the merciless, glassy, blue azure
of our planet seen from Apollo..
And though from simply speaking
your festive cap begins to feel heavy
and the lifeline in your palm
starts festering
still, notwithstanding, nevertheless
honour the flowering
of the shadows that inhabit us,
the shadows begging for consolation.
And still stroke her shoulder blade.
Like the back of a hunchback
Still hankering for a ferocious happiness.

Monday 28 October 2013

No, not a Grundtvig original - he based his hymn on one by Biørn Christian Lund: 'Naar jeg Gethsemane her faar'

Oh Jesu mine, may my heart learn

Oh Jesu mine, may my heart learn
for you to hunger so
that night and day my soul will yearn
you never to forgo!

Then mercy’s time and hour shall be
most sweet and joyous too,
until one day your kiss takes me
from this life home to you.

In that same grave where you did bide
till Easter morn’s first breath,
may my heart rest at eventide
and smile at its own death!

Then take me home, poor sinner I,
in righteousness and love
to your Jerusalem on high,
to glory up above!

For more information, plus a quotation from Lund's original, go to here

Friday 25 October 2013

A very different type of Dèr Mouw poem

This mental pilgrimage I often make –
I’m standing once more at the spot where you
through summer’s lane of oaks came into view;
a cherished image I will not forsake:

from sunny trees down onto sunny earth
the sunny finches’ end-trills dripped apace;
I saw the happy smile on your good face,
and thought: ‘That love’s more, surely, than I’m worth.’

And one thing’s certain: should you die, again
I’ll seem to be there in that oak-lined lane,
watching you coming with your face so dear.

Then will that summer’s day long gone from sight
become a vision of the future, where
you wait for me in an unworldly light.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

A Seamus Heaney poem in Danish


En røn som en læbestiftsminket pige.
Mellem sidevejen og hovedvejen
Elletræer i våd, dryppende afstand
Står ud fra sivene.

Der er dialektens dyndblomster
Og immortellernes absolutte gehør
Og det øjeblik hvor fuglen synger helt tæt
På musikken af det der sker.

Friday 18 October 2013

Apotheosis - time to find a rhyme! Poem by Dèr Mouw

Sunward the water-lilies turn their eyes,
childlike, like angels done by Raphael;
in grey sludge and wide dusks retained, there dwell
those for whom death did painlessness devise.

And should a lightning storm’s induced osmosis
suck up the lake, the dead will all stand there
in clear blue columns: empty orbits stare
above their grin at grim apotheosis.

To Brahman’s sunlight my thoughts strive to flower;
dusks that rose coolly from the soul’s deep bower
made pain at broken wishes cease to taunt me:

from limbo’s grey a gust of memory
whirls up the past when in a flash I see –
they resurrect; dead wishes come to haunt me.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Another Dèr Mouw, chosen for a six-pack issued at the Doetinchem symposium

At times, taking a snowy winter path
past rows of beech, you find a hidden spot –
a sleeping trace of summer that forgot,
it seems, with long-gone swallows to depart:

No snow. Light gossamer. Some moss. A midge.
From sun-caught russet leaves a tit’s shrill cheep.
It’s almost as if words to charm from sleep
the sun and summer were within your reach.

So too, when you grow old, you suddenly
deep in your soul find some small memory
of childhood days, when all was warmth and sun;

and in an instant vision may become
recaptured as reality as well –
as if you, briefly, nearly knew the spell.

To see the six-pack, go to here

Saturday 5 October 2013

A Klaus Høeck poem from 'Hsieh'

         ‘from dust shalt thou once
         more arise’ – with my
         earth full of mouth – i
         mean my mouth full of
earth – ugh what a taste it has
of rust and iron compounds
         that scrunch between the
teeth – ‘from dust shalt thou once more
         arise’ – i write down
         here – how easy it
is to read how hard to be
         lieve and live (after)

Thursday 3 October 2013

Aarestrup and October

In clear October moonlight all lies freezing

In clear October moonlight all lies freezing;
            The closely tended summer flowers hang wilted,
            And e’en the dahlias, those reddest quilted,
In night-wind’s wild embrace swoon without ceasing.

The clouds, forever grey, the skies are plying;
            Each song bird’s silent, forest branch deserted,
            To ice the breaking waves are soon converted,
And but the owl’s hoarse call mocks nature’s dying.

Farewell must now be bid all she’s once chosen,
            The lovely, bright and gay — that neither frozen
            Nor moaning in harsh winter would expire —

Farewell! Farewell! No wonder the desire
            Of beauteous things, in ice-cold polar nighttime,
            Is like the heliotrope to turn to sunshine.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Who is Fritz Andersen? The man who wrote, but more importantly composed, 'I skovens dybe stille ro'

I skovens dybe, stille ro,
hvor sangerhære bo,
hvor sjælen lytted mangen gang
til fuglens glade sang,
der er idyllisk stille fred
i skovens ensomhed,
og hjertets længsler tie her,
hvor fred og hvile er.

Hør landsbyklokken lyder ned,
bebuder aftenfred,
småfuglen, før den går til blund,
end kvidrer lidt en stund.
I mosen kvækker højt en frø,
stærkt damper mark og sø,
nu klokken tier, - aftnens fred
sig stille sænker ned.


I forest depths where quiet reigns
in songbirds’ prized domains,
where troubled soul can listen long
to joyous warbling song,
there is idyllic peacefulness
within the forest’s loneliness
and all heart’s longings quite subside
where rest and peace reside.

Hear how the village bell rings clear,
announcing evening’s near,
small birds, before they go to sleep
give one last final cheep.
A frog from bogland croaks out loud,
field, lake wear steamy shroud,
and evening peace, when bell’s chime ends,
now tranquilly descends.

Try listening to Christ Minh Doky!