Monday 29 May 2017

Stefan George poem in English and also a Swedish version by Vilhelm Ekelund

Wir schreiten auf und ab im reichen flitter

Wir schreiten auf und ab im reichen flitter
Des buchenganges beinah bis zum tore
Und sehen aussen in dem feld vom gitter
Den mandelbaum zum zweitenmal im flore.

Wir suchen nach den schattenfreien bänken
Dort wo uns niemals fremde stimmen scheuchten ·
In träumen unsre arme sich verschränken ·
Wir laben uns am langen milden leuchten

Wir fühlen dankbar wie zu leisem brausen
Von wipfeln strahlenspuren auf uns tropfen
Und blicken nur und horchen wenn in pausen
Die reifen früchte an den boden klopfen.

In beech-tree avenue’s rich tinselled light

In beech-tree avenue’s rich tinselled light
We stroll until we almost reach the gate
Through railings in the field outside we sight
The almond tree in second blossom’s spate.

We search for benches where no shadows lie
There where strange voices never drive away ·
In dreams our arms embrace as time goes by ·
We drink our fill of each mild-gleaming ray

Feel gratefully how sunlight-traces here
Drip down on us to tree-tops’ soughing sound
And only gaze and listen when we hear
The ripe fruits’ gentle knocking on the ground.

Vi vandra upp och ned den gamla bokallen

Vi vandra upp och ned den gamla bokallen.
Septemberglansen varm i gyllne rikedom
dess kronor lyser milt, och ifrån gångens grindar
se vi för andra gång vårt mandelträd  i blom.

Och bänken är där, fri från skugga står den mitt i
det vita ljuset, runt omkring är trädens brus,
och våg på våg går sakta skridande förbi oss
och söver in oss ljuvt i sina rytmers sus.

Vi sitta lyssnande och slutna tätt tillsamman
och sjunka sakta ned i denna klangvågs svall
och väckas endast när i vindens paus och saktning
mot marken dämpat slår den mogna fruktens fall.

'Sorgen' from Ekelund's collection 'Melodier i skymning' (1902)


In the cemetery hyacinths and tulips are in flower
– hyacinths cool and gleaming in the shade by
the dark-green cypress, tulips flaming like open
red hearts up from the naked soil. It is
spring, people die every day, and with each passing
evening the scent grows stronger and stronger from the
many new clusters of flowers.
       All this ostentatious grief, how coarse! How loud-
       – There lies a grave at the very outermost
edge of the cemetery, all on its own in the stony
ground. It is scarcely a grave, there is no beautifully
shaped mound over it, it is quite simply a
hollow and nothing else; – with earth and tussocks
tossed haphazardly and hastily around
it. No wreaths lie on the grave, all that marks it
is a simple, crude batten, a strip of wood with a
wrongly spelt name cut into it with a knife:
       I walk out there in the evenings, and my heart
feels humble at the sight of this lonely grave lying
there as if on sufferance, with no intention to appeal
to the sympathy of one living, so far removed from
the clamorous grief of the wealthy...
       It is like a poem to me, that grave.
A symbol of quiet grief, so movingly simple as
grief is – grief that only wishes to hide far
away from everyone, be spared all well-meaning
words, die in silence far far away in the farthest
corner of the wood like a mortally wounded animal.
Perhaps there is no one except me in the whole wide
world who thinks of this grave; nobody ever
comes here...

(To download a pdf of this and Ekelund's collected poems, go to here)

Ekelund pares down Goethe to a minimum

Sunday 28 May 2017

Ekelund again - the convalescent heart

'Cor inquietum' poem by the Swedish poet Vilhelm Ekelund

Aldrig kan själens
längtan stillas,
icke jordens riken,
brusande städer
och hafvens glans
förmå att lindra
dess eviga oro.
O, hvem spelar
dessa toner,
denne svidande musik
på mitt hjärtas
strängar, spända
alltid, alltid
alltför hårdt?

Nothing soul’s longing
e’er appeases,
none of earth’s dominions,
dull-roaring cities
or oceans’ gleam
can soothe completely
its fixed agitation.
O, who’s playing
all this music,
these so sorely smarting notes
on my aching
heartstrings, tautened
always, always,
far too tight?

Friday 26 May 2017

'Father' - another poem by Andy Fierens


the table was laid out for two
the meat was tender
when there was a knock

who’s there? my wife said
while she looked away
and washed her hands

i opened the door

there were many of them
as far as the horizon
they filled the landscape

i knew who they were
although i’d never seen them before

their looks were stern

what have you done?
they ask in unison

who is it? my wife called out
the meat was ready
rare and soft

in front of me stood the seed
that i had carelessly spilt
since my youth

all the seed that had
ever flowed from me
it had germinated into grain
and come back to me

they were rough and transparent
incomplete, since they lacked
a female component

father, what is it you have done?
they asked once more

who is it? my wife called out
i pulled the door some more towards me
transfixed i looked at it
that restless sperm of mine

It’s complicated, i told them
for i was a man and a coward

blushing i thought of the life
that has slipped through my fingers

nameless and naked
they asked
a third time why

i gave a deep swallow
it didn’t help

in veils of mist i then saw
how they started to become blurred

i went on standing there till i was sure
that all traces had been erased

then i went inside
and closed the curtains

who was it? my wife asked
she cut the flesh
that was pink

i chewed far too long
and told her it was tasty
so tender and soft

my wife did not notice my suffering
she had her own cross to bear

that night while she slept
i tossed and turned
and sighed deeply

dejectedly i stood up
and counted the blisters
on my hands

when i pricked them with a needle
they seemed to be full of tears

it was the work of many years