Tuesday 28 June 2016

Klaus Høeck - 'Legacy' - pp. 346-347

       writing poems as
if the words did not exist
       that is possibly

       also a way out
but i really don’t know when
       one happens to have

       fallen in love with
the words – such as HERZBLUT or
       completely ordi

       nary words such as
these ones – then i i really don’t
       know what to write

       or conversely to
write poems as if only
       the WORDS existed

       that would be even
more peculiar seeing
       the fact that i have

       loved my wife now for
more than thirty years without
       one solitary

       word when the chips were
really down as here and now
       where the poem ends

       thus there is only
this third possibility:
       to let the poem

       float freely between
word and reality like
       the butterflies o

       ver HEARTland that swirl
like shreds of truth and like lies
       that have been torn to

       pieces with flutter
ing wings that make the world (in)

Tuesday 21 June 2016

As midsummer approaches, it's time for Sjöberg

The first time...

The first time that I saw you it was a summer’s day
one morning when the sun was shining bright,
and all the meadow’s flowers, so varied in display,
in pairs stood bowing in its warming light.
So gentle was the morning breeze, and at the shore but slightly
a loving wavelet rippled round a shell the sand held tightly.
The first time that I saw you it was a summer’s day
the first time that I held your hand so lightly.

The first time that I saw you the sky was all ablaze,
so dazzling as the finely feathered swan.
There came then from the forest, the green-fringed forest’s haze,
a chorusing of birds in joyful song.
There trilled a song from high above whose beauty none could equal,
it was the tiny grey-fledged lark, as hard to glimpse as gleeful.
The first time that I saw you, the sky was all ablaze,
so dazzling and intense though without sequel.

And therefore when I see you, though it be winter’s day,
with snowdrifts lying glittering and cold,
I still hear larks’ quick trilling, the summer winds that stray
and spring’s keen urge to even so unfold.
I still sense that from downy beds green plants would be advancing
with cornflower and with cloverleaf all lovers’ joy enhancing,
that rays of summer sunshine upon your features play,
which softly blush in radiance entrancing.

Saturday 18 June 2016

The best-known Swedish summer song by Israel Kolmodin

A Summer Song

The flowering season’s here now
With beauty and great joy/
Delightful summer’s near now
When grass and plants deploy.
The gentle sun’s warmth coaxes
Fresh growth in what’s been dead;
As soon as she approaches/
Reborn life lies ahead.

The meadows’ lovely flowers
And fields of sprouting seeds/
The budding plants in bowers
And all the green-leafed trees/
Should serve to make us wonder
At God’s great goodness here:
On God’s grace then to ponder
Which lasts throughout the year.

We hear birds gladly raising
Their many-throated song;
Shall we then not be praising
Our Lord God too ere long?
My soul, extol God’s splendour
And joyous songs unfold/
That bring delight and tender
Such benefits untold.

Christ Jesus, sun ascending,
Our source of joy and light/
Stay with us till life’s ending;
Our cold minds warm aright:
Renew our soul and spirit:
Our hearts with love’s fire brand:
All pain and grief inhibit/
With thy most gentle hand.

Thou Sharon’s flowers alluring/
Thou lily in green vale/
Ah! crown the soul ensuring
That good deeds there prevail:
Thy mercy shower discreetly/
Like dew of Zion snows;
That it may smell as sweetly/
As Lebanon’s fair rose.

Bless this year’s crop now growing,
And water all our land:
Be daily bread bestowing;
Bless likewise sea and strand.
Thy footsteps drip with richness.
Us nourish with thy word/
And with its wondrous sweetness/
While we have life on earth.

For anyone finding the translation unlikely, consult the original Swedish version to be found under the usual one here.

Thursday 16 June 2016

A poem from 1996 by the Swedish writer Jesper Svenbro

Fugue in C major

Why was Buxtehude played so often
at church concerts in the nineteen fifties?
That at least was the case in Skåne;
and the reason was probably that his organ compositions
had been published in the early part of the decade
by Josef Hedar from Lund.
For us who were young then it was of course difficult
to appreciate the change
that this must have brought about:
for it was as if his music had been played
since the beginning of Eternity.
But somewhere I felt the importance of the moment
when the organist without pedals
let the fugue in C major take to the air!
I wanted to learn how to play.
The church hovered between heaven and earth.
It could have been the Mariakyrka in Helsingborg
where Diderik Buxtehude, twenty years of age,
once gained his first position.
Buxtehude in Helsingborg ...
It is so light in the space around the church just now:
the trees are still bare,
father stands there in his vestments in the spring breeze
conversing with an extremely white-haired Josef Hedar.
And the church door is ajar.
What is it they are talking about?
They stand in the echo of the fugue
that seems never to want to die away
and do not notice that the composer himself
has recently hurried past
and already has got so far out to sea
that he cannot be seen for all the light.