Friday 30 September 2016

Svante No.2 song


Night is so cold.
Life is so short.
Friends move out further
off than they ought.
My tongue’s all mouldy, my soul’s lost its pep.
And each time I move it’s a backward step
You must just keep your spirits primed.
I am drunk and I’m feeling fine.

Cobbles for bread.
Traffic like shears.
Zips and not buttons.
Music that sears.
Stars that are sooty and grins that don’t fit
and porter and belches and aquavit.
You must just keep your spirits primed.
I am drunk and I’m feeling fine.

Tiredness and tears.
Shouts like coarse rope.
Hands quite rejected.
Hope without hope.
Toothache. Insomnia. Gastric distress.
But life’s worth a hangover still, I guess.
You must just keep your spirits primed.
I am drunk and I’m feeling fine.

Thursday 29 September 2016

The opening song of 'Svantes viser' in English


My life is but a can of beer,
Deposit paid am I,
except when you are oh so near,
you envoy from on high.

My navel’s flab, my belly’s girth,
whose growth I daily fear,
you swear are things of greatest worth –
to me you’re always dear!

But how can ever I extol
your figure without flaw?
I drink your body of its soul
in hipflask swigs galore.

You are my life, my daily bread,
You are my dearest dear.
I’m but a bloke who’s overfed,
who’s standing far too near.

I know that this is of the past.
Another’s your sweet dear.
But you have taught me love at last,
to me you’re always near.

Thursday 22 September 2016

A Ballad by Lars Gustafsson

Ballad on the paths in Västmanland

Beneath the visible writing of small roads,
gravelled roads, farm tracks, often with a comb
of grass in the middle between deep wheel ruts,
hidden beneath clear-felling’s tangle of brushwood,
still legible in the dried-up moss,
there is another script: the old paths.
They go from lake to lake, from valley
to valley. At times they deepen,
become quite distinct, and large bridges
of medieval stone carry them over black streams
at times they are dissipated over bare flat rocks,
one easily loses them in marshy ground, so
imperceptible that at one moment they are there,
the next not. There is a continuation,
there is always a continuation, as long as
one looks for it, these paths are persistent,
they know what they want and with their knowledge
they combine considerable cunning.
You walk eastwards, the compass persistently shows east,
the path faithfully follows the compass, like a straight line,
everything is in order, then the path swings northwards.
In the north lies nothing. What does the path want now?
Soon you come to a huge bog, and the path knew that.
It leads us around, with the reassurance of one
who has been this way before. It knows where the bog lies,
it knows where the rockface gets far too steep, it knows
what happens when it goes north instead of south
of the lake. It has done all of this
so many times previously. That is the whole point
of being a path. That it has been done
before. Who made the path? Charcoal burners, fishermen,
women with skinny arms collecting firewood?
Outlaws, timid and grey as the moss,
still in their dream with the fratricide blood
on their hands. Autumnal hunters in the wake
of trusty foxhounds with their frost-clear bark?
All and none of them. We make it together,
you too make it on a windy day when
it is early or late on the earth:
We write the paths, and the paths remain,
and the paths are wiser than we are,
and know all we wanted to know.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Seamus Heaney's poem 'The peninsula' in Danish


Når du ingenting mere har at sige, så brug bare
En dag til at køre hele halvøen rundt,
Himlen er høj som over en landingsbane,
Landskabet uden vartegn, så du vil ikke ankomme
Men passere igennem, dog altid langs med landkendinger.
Ved skumringen suger horisonter hav og bakke til sig,
Pløjmarken sluger den hvidkalkede gavl
Og du er atter i mørket. Genkald dig nu
Den glaserede forstrand og tømmerstokkens silhuet.
Denne klippe hvor brodsøer blev revet i laser,
De langbenede fugle styltede på deres egne ben,
Øer der rider sig selv ud i tågen.
Kør så hjem igen, stadig med ingenting at sige
Bortset fra at du nu vil afkode alle landskaber
Gennem dette; ting alene grundede på deres egne former
Vand og jord i deres yderligheder.

To see the original poem, go to here

Saturday 3 September 2016

Another poem by Ebba Lindqvist

Monologue in Hades

                                                                 (Euridyce to Orpheus)

Who said that I would follow you, Orpheus?
Why were you so sure that you sought me here?
That you forced me back, step by step?
Our love was beautiful once, and shall never be denied.
But no life can tempt me any longer. Up there also
in the land of the sun the cold shadow comes
creeping over the mountains. I know. I remember.
And no one as I knew the coldness in your heart.
The sun gets dark spots. Eros has black wings.
And in the dark of night I already heard while on earth
the baying of Hades’ hounds. – Don’t imagine I grieve,
although you were unable, although you turned back. Oh, no one
knew your weakness as I did. You came back dead-tired,
came back always to me from feasts and victories,
flung your lyre to the ground, sank into my embrace to forget
the bacchanals and singing and wine. And I your beloved alone.
But no song for me. No journey to the sun.
Never the flight of bird’s wings. Orpheus came dog-tired home.
Don’t imagine that I grieve. I chose my life in Hades.
It was not the serpent that chose me. It was I who chose the serpent.
I saw it in the meadow among the flowers. I wished for the poison.
First here in the land of the shadows was I able to live.
Life puts one up against a wall. Life demands an answer.
Life has spear-sharp words that bore through our heart.
The blood drips so silently, so silently, and no one sees how it drips.
And yet – time and time again I have to say the same, Orpheus:
our love was beautiful once, and shall never be denied.
But that was not what I followed. Tremblingly pale,
reelingly tired I followed the lyre and the song.
The song of the sun and the winds. The song of the sea and the waves.
The song of the earth’s delightfulness, when poppies bloom in spring.
The song of all that the earth gives but even more
all that it does not give. Of that which is beyond the earth,
of that which is beyond the human heart and beyond love.
The song of that which is more beautiful than life.
The song superior to love and death.
The song superior to the song. – Oh, everything on earth will soon vanish,
I will forget everything, but never the song.
Only once have you played for me alone.
Only once – in the cool realm of the shadows.
Once I have lived my life on earth. Oh, so gladly do I give the earth
to those who have the strength to live. But
who said that I would follow you, Orpheus?
No life tempts me any longer,
and I never long to return.

This poem can be found in Svensk Poesi on pp. 674-75