Friday 28 March 2014

Behind stage in a Sestina by Lars Gustafsson


Det fanns en tid när varje stund var hel.
Som tennisbollen där den hänger en
nålvass hundradels sekund och väntar
över nätet. Inte “nyss” och inte “snart
utan en tredje, som är allt vi ser.
Det andra är förhoppning eller tid

som var, men inte min, en annans tid.
Det torra slaget gör dig åter hel.
Det är den enda verklighet vi ser.
Förhoppningar och minnen fyller en
till stor del tilfällig personlighet; snart
ser man hur på nästa boll den väntar.

Men vem är det som står beredd och väntar?
All tid äts upp av tankarna på tid
som var, eller att något händer snart.
Förhoppningar och resten minnen. Hel
blir bara den som inte längre ser en
annan boll i bollen som han ser.

En sådan händelse vi faktiskt ser
är mera anonym än någon väntar.
Förgångna år och furstarna som en
gång fanns tycks leva i en stelnad tid.
Med namn gör vi den brustna krukan hel.
Den bärs försiktigt till en brunn som snart

tycks djup och full av starka röster. Snart
är kvar ett ensamt eko och du ser
den ljusa vattenspegeln som är hel.
Där nere ligger den och väntar
så oåtkomlig. Den är du. Din tid
är kort. En enda sten är nog. Och en

blir tusen skärvor som glittrar i en
brunn emot vars gråstensväggar det snart
syns flimrande reflexer. Som är tid.
Den enda tid som vi förstår. Vi ser
i skärvor. I en stelnad pose vi väntar.
Det torra slaget gör dig åter hel.

Vi lever in en namnlös värld. Vi ser.
Vi dör så snart vi minns; dör och väntar.
Det fanns en tid när varje stund var hel.


There was a time each single grain was whole.
As is the tennis ball when hanging a
razor-sharp hundredth of a second, waiting
above the net. Not ‘recently’ or ‘soon’
but a third something, which is all we see.
The rest is expectation or is time

that was, not mine though, someone else’s time.
The clean shot is what once more makes you whole.
This is the sole reality we see.
Expectations and memories fill a
mainly random personality, soon
for the next ball you can see it waiting.

Who is it though that stands there ready waiting?
All time is eaten up by thoughts of time
that was, or something that will happen soon.
Expectations and the rest memories. Whole
is only he who no longer sees a
second ball in the ball there is to see.

Such an event as that we really see
is more anonymous than we were waiting
for. Years and princes existing in a
past age seem to live in a stiffened time.
By name we make the broken vessel whole.
It’s borne with caution to a well that soon

seems deep and full of powerful voices. Soon
only a lonely echo’s left – you see
the water’s gleaming mirror, which is whole.
It lies down there below you waiting,
so inaccessible. It’s you. Your time
is brief. A single stone’s enough. And a

thousand splinters now glitter in a
well against whose grey-stone sides there soon
play flickering reflections. Which are time.
The only time we understand. We see
in splinters. In stiffened pose stand waiting.
The clean shot is what once more makes you whole.

We all live in a nameless world. We see.
We die as soon as we recall; die waiting.
There was a time each single grain was whole.

The sestina follows a strict pattern of the repetition of the initial six end-words of the first stanza through the remaining five six-line stanzas, culminating in a three-line envoi. The lines may be of any length, though in its initial incarnation, the sestina followed a syllabic restriction. The form is as follows, where each numeral indicates the stanza position and the letters represent end-words:
7. (envoi) ECA or ACE
The envoi, sometimes known as the tornada, must also include the remaining three end-words, BDF, in the course of the three lines so that all six recurring words appear in the final three lines. In place of a rhyme scheme, the sestina relies on end-word repetition to effect a sort of rhyme.

An alphabet poem by Lars Gustafsson

The logonaut

I have spent my life
ordering the letters of the alphabet
in various ways. Dealing and shuffling.
Into a reasonably long string:
a long ski-track across white expanses.
The alphabet in Sweden has twenty-eight letters,
And then the twenty-ninth
the empty letter between the words
Which has no name.
Just as nought has no value.
That is why it is irreplacable.

Thursday 20 March 2014

A dirge on spring by Wivallius

I have posted this poem before, but back in 2011. Here it is again, a real gem!

Wednesday 19 March 2014

And suddenly, a Christmas hymn - Brorson again!

At this sweet feast of Christmastide

At this sweet feast of Christmastide
We should through our rejoicing
Ensure God’s grace is glorified,
With art and zeal be voicing;
Through him, so humbly born that night,
With our soul’s every strength and might
Our spirits will be waking ,
Your praise shall ring out, Saviour dear,
So all the world will hear it clear,
The earth itself be shaking.

This infant child of David’s root,
Yet Lord of all creation,
Came down from heaven to commute
The sins of every nation,
He found it hard to bear the thought
This world might well be brought to nought,
His heart it filled with anguish,
He thus forsook his heavenly crown
And in great love to earth came down
To where in pain we languish.

We offer you our thanks profound,
Though they can ne’er repay you,
Our Hallelujahs shall resound,
Hosannas likewise praise you;
Within our camp God’s ark we see!
With joy we sing of victory
That will our hearts be cheering,
We sing of that sweet peace ahead,
That hell shall quake in mighty dread,
Our Christmas hymn when hearing.

God’s wrath we need no longer fear,
Of this we have assurance,
Since for our sins his son when here
Must suffer past endurance,
Both far and wide may it be known
God for our sake his son sent down
To peril, pain and dying,
Who would not then most happy be,
In Jesu’s mercy gladly see
At last his sorrows lying?

As blackest night must fade at day,
When sun’s rays glitter brightly,
So too my sorrows fall away
When I consider rightly:
That God Almighty fervently
Has loved me since eternity,
And has become my brother,
The words I never shall forget
That, sung by angels, ring out yet:
On earth peace with each other!

And though my song of joy be gripped
By deepest sighs and weeping
The cross’s hard constraint my lips
Will ne’er prevent from speaking;
For when the heart’s an open wound,
The harp of joy can then be tuned
To make more sweet its singing,
And broken hearts best know for sure
What this great feast of joy will cure,
What happiness it’s bringing.

May God be praised, our battle’s won,
Who would still be complaining?
Who would still be oppressed and glum
While days of joy are reigning?
Sing out, God’s flock, with voices raised:
My cup is full, may God be praised!
That joy’s a wondrous story,
Let Hallelujahs now resound,
God’s son is mine, I’m gladly bound
From here to realms of glory

Tuesday 18 March 2014

A spring poem by Fernando Pessoa

When spring arrives

When spring arrives,
And I by then should happen to be dead,
The flowers will blossom as before
And the trees be no less green than in spring of last year.
Reality has no need of me.

I sense a tremendous joy
At the thought that my death has no significance whatever.

If I knew I would die tomorrow
And that spring would be there the day after,
I would die content, since it was spring the following day.
If it was time for it, for when else would it come than when it was time?
I relish the fact that all is real and all as it must be;
And relish the fact it would also be so even if I did not relish it.
For all is real and all is as it must be.

Let prayers be said in Latin over my coffin, if so desired.
If so desired, let there be dancing and singing around it.
I have no preferences for when I no longer can have any preferences.
Whatever will be, when it shall be, will be what it is.

Sunday 16 March 2014

Another visionary poem by Brorson


Eyes, now bleary
From all tears and dark with woe,
From their prison
Yearn for vision,
Up towards fair Salem go;
Oh, my pain it so allays,
When on high I simply gaze!

I hear winging
Voices singing,
Every kind, midst angels’ song
Which inspires them
And which fires them
To praise God both loud and long.
Oh, with joy my soul does swell,
Gladly bids the world farewell!

Grapes you offer,
Life’s fruit proffer,
Paradise – fruit heaven-sent!
Roses greet me
Come to meet me
With the sweetness of their scent;
Give time’s breath the taste and smell
Of eternity as well.

See the Lamb’s clear
Wedding host here
In procession wend their way,
As if swimming
In streams brimming
With God’s sweet acclaim and praise.
Strait the path and brief the time,
Oh, your end is so sublime!

Heart to ease us,
Gentle Jesus,
Who for us dear heaven won;
See your throng is
Racked by longing
When time’s day is almost done
When, sweet bridegroom, will you come
Down to earth and fetch me home?

Thursday 13 March 2014

Full version of Brorson's 'balance sheet' poem

Come, heart! draw up your balance sheet

Come, heart! draw up your balance sheet,
Your days on earth list clearly,
Make sure you feel no urge to cheat
Or to omit things merely!
Your sum of deeds upon this earth
To what have they amounted?
Mark, soul secure, all since your birth
God’s register has counted

Though all time passes and is gone,
Will disappear for ever,
What in the course of time you’ve done
Is from you parted never,
For God will judge the world one day
At just a single sitting,
Each deed, word, thought he then will weigh
And mete out what is fitting.

How many foul and evil words
Walk cheerfully together
That are to spite and murder stirred
When damned souls them untether,
Who is it does not feel appalled
By bloody oaths, the swearing
With which one finds both great and small
Infect their speech, uncaring?

How much deceit and guile’s concealed
In heart’s foul hidden chamber,
And fleshly lusts though unrevealed
Still smoulder in great number!
You think that all’s got out the way,
That danger’s been averted;
But God has fixed the final day
When such will be subverted.

It would require, to plot the sum
Of sins seen as offending
Which one (in spite of wrath to come
And that which has no ending)
Commits and then God’s ire can’t stay,
And takes no thought whatever
That unconverted souls one day
Hell’s torment taste forever.

Oh, soul secure! That lives for sure
At this world’s final ending,
A world, like Sodom, so impure
that fire will soon be rending,
You who have wasted time on earth
On foul sins great in number,
And will maybe, at New Year’s birth,
Yourself anew encumber.

Recall, recall how fast they passed
Those other days of mercy!
What if this moment were your last,
Though such a thought accursed be!
Think, if some brief time still be found,
Of what you should be doing –
Your talent’s hidden in the ground
No interest’s accruing!

At mercy’s seat you shall repent
Both humbly and sincerely,
For Jesu’s sake pray God relent
From judging you severely,
The hours of mercy that remain
Make sure you’re better spending,
So at life’s evening you may gain
A sweet and blessed ending!