Monday 29 May 2017

'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)

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