Saturday, 27 August 2016

Absentia animi - a long poem by Ekelöf

absentia animi

In autumn
In autumn when one says farewell
In autumn when all gates are open
              onto meaningless enclosed fields
where unreal fungi decay
and waterlogged wheel-tracks are on their way
to nothing, and a snail is on its way
a tattered butterfly is on its way
to nothing, which is a finished rose
the smallest and ugliest. And the crane-flies, the
                                      stupid devils
frail-legged, intoxicated by the lamp’s evening gleam
and the lamp itself that sighs languishing
around light’s vacant sea, thought’s arctic sea
in long waves of
silently murmuring foam
of series divided by series
from nothing through nothing to nothing
sum countersum summa summarum abrasax abraxas Sum
(like the sound of a sewing machine)
And the spiders spin their web in the silent night
and the crickets chirp
Unreal. Meaningless.

                                      In autumn
There is rustling in my poem
Words do their duty and lie there
Dust falls over them, dust or dew
till the wind whirls up and lays (them) down
              (and) elsewhere
anyone who insists on seeek the meaning of everything
              has long since realised
that the meaning of the rustling is the rustling
which in itself is something quite different from
wet wellingtons through leaves
absent-minded footsteps through the park’s carpet
of leaves, lovingly sticking
to wet wellingtons, absent-minded steps
You stray, go astray
Do not be in such a hurry
Pause a while
In autumn when
In autumn when all gates
then it happens that in the last slanting ray
                                      after a day of rain
              at long intervals hesitatingly
                                      as if caught out
a remaining blackbird sings in a tree-top
for nothing at all, for its throat’s sake. You see
its tree-top stand out against the sky’s pale background
close to a lonely cloud. And the cloud swims
like other clouds but also as if left over, hors saison
and essentially long since elsewhere
and in itself (like the song) already something
                                      else than
Eternal rest
              Meaningless. Unreal.
Meaningless. I
sing sit here
about the sky about a cloud
I wish nothing more for myself
I wish myself far far away
I am far off (among the evening echoes)
I am here
Sum countersum summa summarum
You and I

Oh far far off
there swims in the bright sky
above a tree-top a cloud
in happy unconsciousness!
Oh deep down in me
from the surface of the black pearl-eye
in happy half-consciousness
an image of a cloud!
It is not that which is
It is something else
It exists in that which is
but is not that which is
It is something else
Oh far far away
in that which is beyond
there exists something near!
Oh deep down in me
in that which is near
there exists something beyond
that which is beyond-near
in that which is on-this-side-of-distant
something neither nor
in that which is either or:
neither cloud nor image
neither image nor image
neither cloud nor cloud
neither neither nor nor
but something else!
The only thing that exists
is something else!
The only thing that exists
in this that exists
is that which in this
is something else!
(Oh the soul’s lullaby
the song of something else!)

non sens
non sentiens non
terque quaterque
vel abracadabra

Abraxas abrasax

Sum countersum summa summarum that becomes some again
Unreal. Meaningless.

And the spiders spin their net in the silent night
and the crickets chirp

                            In autumn

You can hear this poem being read here. The version used for the translation is to be found in Svensk Poesi (2016), pp. 652-655.

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