Tuesday 25 February 2014

One more for a hat trick

Ah, if you grasped, though in sin’s chains you languish

Ah, if you grasped, though in sin’s chains you languish,
How hard it is, your Satan’s slavery,
This instant you would strive to end your anguish
And seek him who alone can set you free.
Ah, what a blessed day you’d win,
Were you right at this very moment to begin!

Ah, if you knew the sweet realm of God’s mercy,
How to belong to Jesus is so good,
Against his mercy you’d not act adversely,
For he will gladly help you if you would.
Ah, God’s church would great glory win,
Were you right at this very moment to begin!

Ah! if you thought of everlasting burning,
Its terrors when your dream’s desires subside,
How tearfully you would to him be turning
Who stands with arms outstretched and open wide.
Ah, dread would satan feel within,
Were you right at this very moment to begin

Ah! if you thought one never just by dreaming
Can enter heaven, that one has to wait,
How you your lukewarmness would judge unseeming,
And seek that one true gate which is so strait.
Ah, how you’d end the woes of sin,
Were you right at this very moment to begin!

Ah, if you felt how fine beyond all measure
It is to land in Paradise, how sweet,
You’d quickly curse all empty worldly pleasure
And to Christ’s blood and death direct your feet.
Ah, all God’s angels joy would win,
Were you right at this very moment to begin!

Ah, if you would – now and for ever –
Devote yourself to battle, penance, prayer,
Jesus would then reward your firm endeavour
And at his bosom you would shed all care!
Ah, what sweet rest your soul would win,
Were you right at this very moment to begin!

Ah, do you feel there ought to be some pleading?
It’s for the lasting good of your own soul,
To lie in Hell’s a burden all exceeding,
To inherit Heaven is so light a load.
Ah, what eternal joy you’d win,
Were you right at this very moment to begin!

Ah, if you’d only – while the chance lies waiting –
Just grasp the gentle heart of God aright;
You can so now, before the moment’s fading,
For dusk is falling on eternity’s black night.
Ah, what delight would Jesus win,
Were you right at this very moment to begin!

Monday 24 February 2014

And yet another Brorson

Where’er God leads I’ll gladly go

Where’er God leads, I’ll gladly go,
for he alone is pastor,
all days of mercy here below
come from my Lord and Master.
God’s path is but the straight way home,
so cheerfully I’ll onward roam
and in his heart be trusting.

Where’er God leads, my life I will
consign to him entirely,
and should my cause seem strange, yet still
he knows how to inspire me
to do what he determined ere
from mother’s womb I first breathed air –
for I am but his servant.

Where’er God leads, in hope as well
as faith my heart rests ever,
in me his power divine will dwell,
can aught me from him sever?
Thus am I always of good cheer,
to God’s true path I will adhere,
beside it there’s none other.

Where’er God leads, I’ll gladly go
e’en though my feet are burning;
although at first I fail to know,
I’m lastly sure of learning
it calls for faithfulness alone
to take the path that I am shown:
that is my faith’s firm anchor.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Another poem by Brorson - one of the 'big four' Danish hymn-writers

i walk in danger where i tread

I walk in danger where I tread,
my soul would e’er remind me
that Satan stands behind, ahead
with fetters that would bind me;
his hidden hell-fire’s ray
can oft lead me astray
if from my post I once have fled.
I walk in danger where I tread.

I walk in hardship where I tread –
foul sin, I must forswear it;
should God’s rod rain upon my head,
with patience I must bear it;
I often see no way
along which to assay
when setbacks’ mists around me spread.
I walk in hardship where I tread.

I walk but deathwards where I tread,
all certainty’s denied me,
each day or hour is one more thread
with which he now has tied me,
a tiny breath of air
can end the whole affair
and to eternity I’m sped.
I walk but deathwards where I tread.

I walk midst angels where I tread,
whose loving care’s eternal,
and Satan’s power provokes no dread
in such a host supernal.
Begone, world’s cares malign!
An angel stronghold’s mine
though hairs be harmed upon my head.
I walk midst angels where I tread.

I walk with Jesus where I tread,
close by his side he keeps me,
he shelters through the blood he’s shed
and helps me fight if needs be.
And where he once has trod
I too will seek to plod
though some would see me fail instead.
I walk with Jesus where I tread.

I walk to heaven where I tread,
so let my heart be cheerful,
its sole goal where all pain is shed
and sin leaves no one tearful.
Begone, world’s pomp and state!
I gaze on heaven’s gate,
all love of worldly goods now dead.
I walk to heaven where I tread.


Tuesday 18 February 2014

A poem by the Norwegian writer
Mona Høvring


Remember how we wasted water, girl?
We were careful, our hearts gently rippled
when we imitated goddesses, the clouds melted,
the months ran out of the calendar,
all was mobile and wet.
What were those day reminiscent of?
The nervous corals? That in us which breaks down?
Remember when we knew the names of all the waves
and everything blissful?
We were in the process of growing up, little girl,
we asked for protection for our mothers,
and for common sense.
And later, when we got lost,
it was out of pure obligation.

Monday 17 February 2014

A poem by the Danish writer Johannes Ewald

When I was ill
Beatus ille, qui procul negotiis – Horace:

Happy the man, who far from life’s allure
Is not too rich – and likewise not too poor
Whose soul untroubled then can contemplate,
The being too that it should emulate!
Should fools’ acclaim and glory’s empty shell –
Should heaps of gleaming metal and their spell –
Should golden chains – a slave that has been crowned –
The world – as dear as our own soul be found?
Why did your once strong soul sink helplessly,
You first of men – deep – to inconstancy?
Why did you quail at the Almighty’s hand?
Distraction your wise spirit not withstand?
For all distraction marks the soul’s demise,
At anger’s voice all thoughts are scattered wide
In great confusion they now reel about
Midst things both good and bad weave in and out,
Soul hold to blessedness! – ’tis yours today!
By dust you are from heaven called away!
Chimera swallows all the dust you saw!
Your own thoughts you do not know any more!
Ah! – when devotion – when my prayers are warm,
When I uplifted – high – on mercy’s arm,
Spread God abroad – and feel divinely blessed,
Why does Dorine then come to my breast?
And when I found pure love in its full flush
The fire at which no wise man e’er would blush,
Why does a thought of Homer then wrench free
My soul from that fair Helen whom I see?
Ah! were our thoughts but constant, good and wise
Our soul would find – and stay in paradise!
For blessedness reflection can espy
It feels it but is not attached thereby.
Oh child of Adam! – oh unhappy one!
Why do you seek distraction you should shun?
Why are you faint? – Behold the maelstrom – quake!
Think now! – is not your precious self at stake?
Happy the man who’s not by clink so gay
Of brimful glass – nor by the sirens’ lay
Nor the enslaving voice of gold – nor clash
Of murd’rous steel, nor by some herald brash
Nor false friends’ mocking tones – nor wretches’ tears
The tedium of bores – fools’ counsel’s snares
Nor by foes’ mighty roar – or weak men’s cries,
Deprived of God – joy – sense – himself likewise!
Welcome you poison raging in my breast!
Welcome all pain that has my joy suppressed!
And lack – you who it was took my last friend,
Welcome! – since you gave me myself again.
As my Creator only can know pure delight,
And without others’ help be happy quite,
I will then honour him – my self stay nigh,
Forget all fame – and gold – each roar – and cry!

Sunday 16 February 2014

A poem by the Norwegian writer
Bertrand Besigye

You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down. Or Black Hail Over All of West Side

                                      I met a man from Ethiopia in a bar.
A man who treated me to one glass of beer after the other,
A man who was out on the town to celebrate.
When I asked him why he was so happy,
Why he was so generous,
Why he was celebrating, he replied:
“I’ve lost my job!”
“What? You’ve lost your job and you’re celebrating?”
                                      Then he told me that he hated his job
As a cleaner, that he had washed floors in a firm of lawyers on west side,
That when working he was never allowed to look these lawyers in the eye,
That he had been given strict instructions to keep his gaze fixed on the floor
Every time these lawyers went past in their expensive suits
And black briefcases, hurrying down the corridors.
He was never to return their looks,
He was never to greet them,
Just wash and wash with his gaze fixed on the floor.
As if he didn’t really have any business to be there.
As if he wasn’t to be heard or seen.
As if he wasn’t worth more than the mop and wash-bucket he used.
As if he was part of all the dirt they wanted removed.
Not once had these well-heeled gentlemen
Stopped and asked what his name was.
Not once had they
Stopped and asked how he was doing.
Not once had they allowed him to eat lunch
In the same canteen as them. Not once.
And these lawyers worked on issues
To do with right and wrong.
One day this Ethiopian dared to look them in the eye.
One day this Ethiopian dared to greet them. It was this he wanted to celebrate.
That he defied them, that he stood up for his identity, that he stood up for all cleaners,
That he stood up for his wife, that he stood up for his son, that he stood up for his daughter,
That he met them face to face, as if he wanted to say: “I am!”
                                      And that was enough to get him the sack.
That night, after meeting him in the bar, I dreamt that black hail hammered over all of west side.
Black hailstones the size of hand grenades. Black hail that smashed skylights.
Black hail that dented car roofs. Black hail that tarred balconies. Black hail
That filled garden plots. Black hail that coloured the streets with night. Black hail!
For this cleaner showed me with all his being:
You Can’t Keep A Good  Man Down.

Friday 14 February 2014

Anonymous German poem, mid 13th century

Dû bist mîn, ich bin dîn:
des solt dû gewis sîn.
dû bist beslozzen
in mînem herzen:
verlorn ist daz slüzzelîn:
dû muost immer drinne sîn.

Thou art mine, I am thine:
of this thou hast sure sign:
locked thou art
within my heart:
lost is the key that confined:
thou art for ever consigned.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Important poem of Danish Romanticism - 'The One' by Schack Staffeldt

The One

All that is beautiful dies, that the spirit shall gain no contentment
     In its debased human state: longings shall thus here below
Man’s bosom forever consume, like the lamp in a dark night-time dungeon,
     Which, at the dread dead of night, a mark on the light of the sky.
Man! it is not what you own, but what you long for and crave for,
     This is your treasure most dear, this is your value most high,
The glorious you can but own by suffering great deprivation:
     Man’s fall is very precise, longing its heavenmost flight.
All that it beautiful dies, the world of the symbols knows change,
     And in different signs the One expresses itself.
Delve into all the world’s annals: there centuries lie in succession,
     Like strata washed up on the shore, deposit and trace of the spirit.
The globe is a ruin itself, and, like mould growth on crumbling walls,
     Out of the granite’s great rifts sprouts what will later be spring.
No single thing can stand firm through the rise and the fall of the ages,
     No single thing ever was, is and will be as before:
It is eternal life which, like blood from the heart, courses
     Through all of nature, flowing outwards and later returning;
So too the soul shows itself, its mien always changing
     Its features uncountable, constantly one and the same.
Therefore there only exists that where the One does reside,
     Only the idea, as shield, wards off what passes away.
In your life’s great work of art you therefore present the idea,
     Attune yourself to your own nature, that nature eternal as God,
Otherwise you will be lost, like bubbles that burst on the sea:
     The sea still remains but where is the bubble, its bright-coloured child?
Should the idea though transfuse your profound and significant life,
     You are immortal – in God as God is in you.
Exceptional natures withdraw now their summit from time,
     Like mountain peaks, visible far o’er the flood’s mirror surface.
Otherwise was it of old, otherwise will it be later,
     The future another repeat of time that is past.
Yes! there once was an age when nature childlike did express
     With imprint most faithful the eternal traits of the father,
When it had not as yet, like ripening fruit, left the bough
     And in its bold fall become free though ephemeral.
Still behind the eclipse of the past the golden sphere rolls,
     Poetry it still retains in its rhythmical bands;
Thither do all longings swarm, like castaways, who from the rock,
     Naked, in direst distress, see far off the bay that they crave.
Was is the plaintive myth, shall be the joyous prediction,
     Myth and religion, fond memory and much desired hope,
Poles of time constantly seeking each other in vain,
     Until they melt into One, there where time is no more. –
Self-seeking Present, whose roothold is only the moment,
     World-life for you stands in its winter solstice;
Necessity you do defy and flaunt freedom’s sceptre?
     Free in defection are you, your freedom the choice of a yoke.
Know then that selfdom is raging rebellion in nature,
     And sin that is monstrous freedom’s gargantuan child;
Selfdom the son’s great revolt against what life has granted,
     Nor does the death of the son atone for the crime –
So may you perish, nature, like fever’s groundless delusion,
     And cured from you, slowly, with passage of time,
May the life now engendered strive for the world’s blessed heart,
     And in unity’s lap, sonnet, may consciousness die.

Sunday 9 February 2014

A poem by Rutger Kopland

Die Kunst der Fuge


So do thoughts roam, in their roaming repeating
like mountain-meadow streams, always somehow different,

always somehow the same, all of them longing
for something, a somewhere, elsewhere a memory

searching towards. And their longing is only
the force of water, their memory only

banks of rivers, somewhere, elsewhere they are the sea.


The space of a wood of tall beeches in winter,
from whose tops there is falling, again and again,

repeating this movement from this once to later,
as long as that falling continues, leaf after leaf after

Their memory is only this space, and only
this falling their longing, this merging amongst

all the others, this unretrievably being all over.


The swarms of birds above the valley, the fleeting
moments of belonging together and falling apart.

all that repeating, where there is searching for that
one movement where memory and longing

disappear into each other, the finding of those moments,
and the losing. What binds them and drives them apart

are the cold, wind, grey roofs in the depths.


And high in the rare winter air footprints in the snow,
a man and a woman who came this way, here

- prints were the only thing left of them, a pair of tracks
thin, twining tracks on the roam, memory

and longing, both of them, but of what and to where -
here where we are, only us, and the snow,

snow where no print has been set.


There is roaming, merging, falling apart, disappearing
and all this repeated, as if time and again there is something

that has to be sought, found, lost, sought,
as if time and again something must, must be something

before disappearing and after.