Friday, 31 May 2019

Lennart Sjögren: 'The Other Gardens' (2017)

The title is that of the first section of the book. Since the translation of the whole book is long, it is available as a pdf file here.

The other gardens, the abandoned ones
that do not ask for permission to exist
exist there even so
and invite in everything 
that lives and that is dead.
Here is a good place to pause a while
for travellers before they journey on.

not much remains of what once was
when it comes to gleaming marshals
and those guests who come here
have other business than the celebration.

Yet they were tended once by human hands
and therefore can be called gardens
though the root system existed before and after
the age of humanity.

If it is morning or evening:
it can resemble another morning
far beyond the old one
it can also resemble an evening
and point towards a long night.

That is no great matter to discuss.

Another night that encloses everything
it tastes of metal, earth, leaves undergoing transformation
deep within it such is being prepared as
words as yet do not dare taste
and which can thus resemble a morning
as yet without written rules.

Vehicles come and vehicles go
the windfalls are not picked up by anyone
the betrayed pass by the betrayers here
and eat beneath the same branches.

Do not ask me who extracted
the greatest happiness from his life
or who was assigned the greatest torment
I, an intermediary, how could I possibly reply
although I am acquainted with cobwebs
the spiders’ lives and victims.

In the abandoned gardens
the signs of living seem more distinct
because death’s heel
has left its prints in what has been left behind.

Here soul’s refugees came passportless one night
and found there a moment’s rest
they did not think could be attained
sat down for a while
knew this to be no lasting place to stay
yet tarried until daybreak.

Here those extremely happy come a while
caress each other’s bodies
and think they know what life’s idea is.
Here the rain falls, that which first obliterates
and then gives back another life.

Here the dead come on their swift passage
through various worlds, take in the smells
pause for a while
taste before hurrying on.

And migrating birds that move at ease through the night
search a while in what is now stripped of leaves
find what they are looking for
in the large recess of the body
at the same place where the dead recently passed
hence the dark gleam in their eyes.

Not until oblivion has come to take its place
and death and life have acquired new meanings
does a different burgeoning begin
the faintly golden that precedes mouldering.

the leaves all interweave
they look at me, at you they look
and ask how it can come about
we happen to be passing here
through the soles of our shoes they whisper
that it is alright to pause here for a while
but that the secrets which they carry never will
will be revealed completely.

Nor do some overripe apples that fall heavily
ask to be picked up
they fall into the abandoned grass
to be there and to grow there into other things
and to remain there quite still – and to wake up
when night and morning together
pass through the milling throng
of all that does not know what rest is
and they open their eyes wide, prick up their ears
for that which once more is drawing near.

Far off it is as if vehicles
as yet still out of sight are on their way
and which not even the gardens know of.

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