Friday 30 August 2019

Dèr Mouw: a translation poem

Het hele landschap heeft de zon vertaald:
’t aardappelveld in niet hoog artistiek,
maar deeglijk proza; kleurige lyriek
geeft ’t koornland in een stijl, die vlamt en straalt;

episch in vorm, in kleur, in klank, verhaalt
de eik van zijn zonneheros in epiek;
de populieren zoeken ’t in tragiek,
hoe op ’t geen hoogstreeft, ’t noodlot bliksemstraalt;

paarse ernst van groene rooie-kool herhaalt
de humor van wat klein schijnt en komiek;

wetend wat recht is, en dat híj nooit faalt,
knikt wijs de den welwillende kritiek –

Uit de onvertaalbare ontzaglijke daalt
één lof op ‘t literaire mozaiek.

The sun’s translated the whole countryside:
potato fields into if not ornate
yet solid prose; while cornfields add a spate
of lyricism, flaming far and wide;

epic in colour, form and sound, the oak
tells of its sun-hero in epic verse;
the poplars choose the tragical, the terse:
how those who strive high, fate fells at one stroke;

perse gravity of green red-kale infers
humour in what seems droll and quite prosaic;

knowing what’s right, and that he never errs,
the pine nods sagely, genially commends –

From the untranslatable immense descends
sheer praise upon the literary mosaic.

Monday 26 August 2019

Ludvig Holstein: 'I solen gaar jeg bag min plov'

Sang bag ploven

I solen går jeg bag min plov.
Jeg nikker til den grønne skov,
Hvor du, min lykke, gemmer dig.
Mit hjerte ler og gemmer sig
Og gemmer sin lyksalighed
Til sol går ned, til sol går ned.

Min lykke vågner ung og ny
Som lærkesang ved morgengry.
Hver aftenstund den smykker sig.
Men kun for mig du smykker dig.
Og nætternes lyksalighed
Er dagens gyldne hemlighed.

Jeg pløjer op det gode muld.
Men ingen ser det gyldne guld,
Som i mit hjerte gemmer sig.
Jeg gemmer mig, jeg gemmer dig,
Jeg gemmer vor lyksalighed
Til sol går ned, til sol går ned.

Song behind the plough

In sun’s warm glow I plough the land,
I greet the trees as green they stand,
where you, my joy, are hiding still.
My heart’s full glad and hides as well
And hides its bliss from everyone
Till setting sun, till setting sun.

My joy awakens young and new
Like lark-song in the dawn’s pale blue.
Each evening it adorns itself.
You though for me adorn yourself.
And all the bliss of every night
Is daytime’s secret golden-bright.

I plough the rich earth, turn each fold,
But no one sees the golden gold
That hidden in my heart does dwell.
I hide myself, you hide as well,
I hide my bliss from everyone
Till setting sun, till setting sun. 

Jeppe Aakjær: 'Høgen'


Vær hilset Høg over Granetop,
du stolteste Fugl i Skoven!
Du stirrer trodsigt mod Himlen op,
din Flugt er vild og forvoven.

Du kløver Brisen i vilden Lyst,
mens grønligt Øjnene spejde;
du hugger dit Næb i din Fjendes Bryst,
og aldrig du skjænker ham Lejde.

Du er en Røver for Gud og Mand,
i Blod du sølede Hammen;
du ser med Foragt paa den vrikkende And,
der spejler sin Fedme i Dammen.

Jeg elsker vel ej din blodige Klo,
men Flugtens Sus om din Bringe,
dit vilde Blik fra dit stolte Bo
og Solens Blink paa din Vinge.

The Hawk

My greeting, hawk above fir-trees high,
you proudest of birds in the forest!
Defiant you stare straight up at the sky,
your flight is as wild as it’s lawless.

You cleave the breeze with a wanton zest,
with greenish eye ever scouting;
you sink your sharp beak in your quarry’s breast,
its right to survive always flouting.

A brigand you are before God and man,
your body blood-red from the slaughter:
the duck’s waggling rump with contempt you scan,
reflected down there in the water.

No love of your bloody claw have I,
but your flight-smoothed breast in all weathers;
your savage gaze from your home on high
and the glint of the sun on your feathers.

Friday 23 August 2019

Torild Wardenær: 'The fiddlers'

The fiddlers

There’s a great deal we never get to know anything about. The fiddlers for example.
For that reason, there is not anything special to say about them. All we have heard is this:
They came to town one afternoon. They were going to stay at Hotel Union, and for a while
reception was full of dark-dressed men with embroidery on their jackets and their fiddles
safely stowed away in black cases.
Nobody opened them and played on their instruments right then. It would probably not
have been appropriate. It is almost certain that one or other of them must have felt like 
striking up a tune.
Anyway, it didn’t happen. But later, when they had all been given rooms, some
scattered notes could be heard coming from various rooms in the west wing.

Thursday 22 August 2019

Torild Wardenær: 'Sifong'


Siphong, siphong. The word popped out. It did. He was just standing there, and the word popped
out without warning: siphong, siphong. Twice, no more.
What do you say?
He tried it out again. No one directly contradicted him. He laughed. Became excited. He had
not been drinking champagne, only black coffee.
He looked at himself in the mirror, pronounced the word slowly and noted his facial expression.
Shaped his mouth first into a smile. Then made a round opening, like he mimicked to very small children.
It looked odd, but sounded good: siphong, siphong!
Instead of good afternoon and be seeing you, he shouted it to his friends. They were standing on
the loading verge and they replied: what? both of them. He waved and repeated the greeting. They
waved back.
On the bus he said the same when he was given his change. Siphong. The driver looked up and
nodded to him. Said: OK. And let the heavy bus swing out as light as a feather from the edge of the pavement.

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Anneke Brassinga: Rosie's oration

Rosie’s oration

Ever seen a wrinkled sea-gull? Wrinkly sea, yes, stone
and bone, but walled-eye horse, hollow-gob donkey
no. Well, help each other keep peepers skinned! Fair to assume

humanity exists as species? Not as yet satisfactorily demonstrated
by independent sources, it being much too intersubjectively
limited, with bulging eyes copiously magnifying vain dazzling

can never plainly be concluded – without one contribution
of potencies dormant in wintering sugar beet as well as
the industrially freeze-dried tea rose – that dubious parasite,

conceitedly believing its own word, has the right to posit itself.
Well now, it unmistakably would seem related to the rose: it too
becoming crumpled in its utmost state, and shedding

sweet tears even, before the final snap. Likewise geranium and jasmine.
In short, QED: humanity, no, merely an overwhelming
quantity, falling outside all botanical categories, consequently

rushing around in panic, bellicose, in earliest
and final stages abusively not clinging to the illusory
public spirit, sweetly vegetating as seen fit, specimens.

Torild Wardenær - poem from 'I pionértiden' (1994)


Kan vi dette språket nå, efter mange år i landet? Gebrokkent spør vi. Har hørt at det er et
verdensspråk. Anvendbart overalt, hvis vi behersker det. Vi blir nå her. Øver og øver.
Utvider langsomt det lille ordforrådet mens vi tolker hverandres blikk og geberder.
Bak våre stotrende munner; læremesterens hemmelige munn, ofte taus.


Can we speak this language now, after many years in the country? We ask haltingly. Have heard that it is a
world language. Viable everywhere, if we master it. We’ll stay here now. Practise and practise.
Slowly enlarge our sparse vocabulary, while interpreting each other’s looks and gestures.
Behind our stuttering mouths: the secret mouth of the mentor, often silent.

Sunday 18 August 2019

Rilke: 'Das ist die Sehnsucht'

On a house gable in the Netherlands

Das ist die Sehnsucht: wohnen im Gewoge
und keine Heimat haben in der Zeit.
Und das sind Wünsche: leise Dialoge
täglicher Stunden mit der Ewigkeit.

Und das ist Leben. Bis aus einem Gestern
die einsamste von allen Stunden steigt,
die, anders lächelnd als die andern Schwestern,
dem Ewigen entgegenschweigt.

R.M. Rilke (Die frühen Gedichte, 2. Auflage 1909)

Longing is this: to dwell in fluctuation
and have no home in time one can foresee.
And wishes this: the calm of conversation
twixt daily hours and all eternity.

And this is life. Till from the past day’s surging
the loneliest of all its hours ascends,
which, from its many sisters’ smiles diverging,
towards the eternal its own silence sends.

Saturday 17 August 2019

T. van Deel: Mondriaan


Dit is geen boom, dit is het metrum
van de boom. Een eenvoud waartoe alles,
ooit, moet herleid om heel en afgerond
begrijpelijk te zijn. Ook de gemberpot
en de vuurtoren, de zee en het duin
lieten zich zo uit beeld en gelijkenis
bevrijden. Het denken geeft een hand
aan wat het oog aanschouwt: geraamte
dat het vlees ontstijgt, vlees als
een voorwaarde voor ’t bot.


This is no tree, this is the measure
of the tree. A simplicity to which all things,
at some point, must be reduced to be wholly
and fully comprehensible. The ginger jar
and lighthouse, the sea and the dune could 
also thus be liberated from image and
likeness. Thought lends a hand
to what the eye observes: a skeleton
that transcends the flesh, flesh as
a prerequisite for the bone.

To see more poems by T. van Deel, go to here

Dèr Mouw: August poem

It’s end of August, Sunday. – Blue-hazed air
round distant pine trees in late afternoon;
toward glowing stubblefield, now fiery-plumed,
from grit-path dust clouds flees a scuttling hare.

Old-fashioned dahlias, like giant taws,
glow the entire length of the farmhouse wall
in perfect line; and chittering swallows call
around the barn, across the path’s wire-gauze.

The sand’s still loose from Saturday’s keen rake;
edged with the cautious footsteps that folks take;

a shadow-point of bean-leaf now quite spare
lies in the path’s traced furrows here and there;

in muffled gusts through the closed window come
fleeting strains played on a harmonium.

Friday 16 August 2019

Miriam Van hee: 'Het karige maal'

The frugal meal

Under the lamp at table
we sit silently eating; our hands
coming and going like white flecks;
our ringed fingers aimlessly
toying with the familiar bread.
There is no joy nothing unusual
about the sound of our
knives and forks.

And naturally we know nothing
of the happiness of travellers
in an evening train.

To see the original poem, go to here

Thursday 15 August 2019

Simon Grotrian: 'Ode til et Egetræ'

Ode to an oak-tree

Oak-tree, I pay homage to you
and place myself next to you
you greet me, I can hear the low murmur, like the boulevards
seeping round the peace of the park.
We read your purpose leaf by leaf, before you lose the summer
in folios to a gale and turn into a skeleton.
Your roots are shadow-branches, you have four dimensions
the corners of the earth meet in your crown
where they tussle
I can hear the sizzling, loud like a tablet.
And your trunk is an extensive tethering stake for giants
green shoots can explode inaudibly in your upper frame.
Old friend, your voice lay buried in a bog
but your suppleness has made you black as the earth’s shadow-beings.
Potential coffins, tables wait for a chain saw
you great burnt photo of my sorrow
that keels over.
For you land at my feet, and I remain standing, alone.

Jess Ørnsbo: a page from 'Tidebogen' (The Book of Hours)

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Klaus Høeck: 'Dylan Forever'

To see the entire collection in English translation, go to here

Monday 12 August 2019

Ruben Nilson: 'Fimpen och tändstickan'


Down in a gutter on a square, midst litter, dirt and waste,
there lay a flattened, weeping stub, and nearby, quite displaced,
there lay a little matchstick from Krüger’s matchstick town:
stray souls night’s masquerading had heartlessly let down.

‘Excuse me, lovely stub,’ said he, ‘A humble match am I
who in life’s treadmill has been spared, although I here do lie,
In Krüger Manufactory’s machine I had my birth,
from nothing he created us – and thus amassed great worth.’

‘Oh my, how riveting, good day,’ the stub said with finesse.
‘I’m from a fine old family, the Chesterfields, no less.
It’s simply a mistake I’ve been discarded, I surmise,
When young one burns so ardently – and that explains my size.’

‘Ah well, young lady, also I have ancestry that’s fine,
Three Stars the matchbox label said, I too am of that line,
and I have brothers everywhere – in every town and shire,
we conflagrate, illuminate, set everything on fire.’

‘If only!’ she said frenziedly, ‘you me could but ignite,
‘you’d taste a full-blown Chesterfield once I am well alight,
and though I’m not as dazzling-white as formerly when young,
I still have my aroma and a taste to please the tongue.’

But both fell silent suddenly when, full of fright, they glanced
a higher being who controlled a sweeper that advanced,
and in a cloud of swirled-up dust the two were forced apart,
and no one felt the matchstick’s pain, the stub’s cries from the heart. 

A landfill, though, at Riddersvik was where the two progressed,
midst trash and refuse side by side they lay there tightly pressed,
out came the sun and set alight the matchstick’s fiery top,
the stub she then went up in smoke – the match burnt down nonstop.

Listen to Fred Åkerström sing this song on Guldkorn vol. 2!

Sunday 11 August 2019

Grundtvig: 'Jeg kender et Land'

The land of the living

              I know of a land
Where hair does not grey, and where time’s rule is banned,
Where sun does not burn, and where wave does not ring,
Where autumn embraces the blossoming spring,
Where morning and evening unceasingly dance
              In noon’s brightest glance.

              Oh, wonderful land,
Where glass does not run full of tear-drops as sand,
Where nothing is wanting that’s worth holding dear,
Where that does not lack which so pained us back here!
With breast filled with longing we seek ever more
              Your sweet-smiling shore.

              Oh, long-promised land!
We greet you in morning hour’s mirror-clear strand,
When perfect your shadow the child may espy
And where woods are green dreams that there you must lie,
Where too it can share with the rushes and flowers
              Its smile and its hours.

              Oh, transient dream
Of island eternal in time’s rushing stream!
Of joy’s sacred temple in life’s vale of tears,
Of life half-divine in this hall’s mortal years!
The land of the living with you melts away
              From those made of clay.

              Oh, hope-dashing dream!
You glittering bubble on time’s rushing stream!
In vain would the poet, with voice and with pen,
From bright-gleaming shadows create you again;
Where shadow comes closest, the small will all weep
              Who on it gaze deep.

              Oh, spell-binding dream
Of pearl that’s eternal in time’s rushing stream!
You fool those poor persons who all seek in vain
In image and art what the heart would retain,
And make them call lasting what just disappears
              Like days, months and years.

              Oh, spirit of love!
Your hand let me kiss, reaching down from above
From heaven’s fair skies to this earth’s murky hold
And touching our eyes with its fingers of gold,
So blue-tinged there climbs behind surf-roaring strand
              The wonderful land!

              Oh, heavenly name,
Whose sacred embrace does our nature enflame,
So spirit can mingle with dust without grief
And bring back to life every dead withered leaf!
Oh, deep in my clay let me fall on my knee
              So God may see me!

              Oh, faith beyond bliss,
Whose high-vaulted bridge spans the gaping abyss
When drifting ice threatens in surf-roaring strand
From poor mortal dwelling to far promised land!
Come farther down to me, you high-honoured guest!
              That pleases you best.

              Oh, hope fleet of wing!
Oh, brother reborn through divine christening!
For all journeys made to the land o’er the sea,
Good tidings and comfort you’ve lavished on me,
May I ever thank you, so joy is in store
              When hope is no more!

              Oh, love perfect love!
Quiet source of fierce torrents that mightily move!
Hecalls you his father who ransoms our plight
Your spirit all soul’s vital force does ignite;
Your kingdom is there where man death does defy;
              May us it be nigh!

              Our father sublime!
You willingly reign in earth’s temple of grime,
Who builds up the spirit in Jesu’s sweet name,
In human embrace with an altar aflame,
With heaven-bright dwelling of faith dearly won,
              For you and your son.

              Oh, Christian faith sweet!
You grant every heart what the world cannot greet;
What barely we glimpse while our eye is still blue,
Is living within us, we know this is true;
Both heaven and earth are my land, life confides
              Where love e’er resides.