Monday 31 May 2021

Brian Patten: 'Small Wonders'


Small Wonders


Brand-new elephants roamed through the jungles.

Brand-new whales splashed down through the oceans.

God had slapped them together,

Happy as a kid making mud pies.


He wiped His hands clean.

'Now for the hard part,' He thought.

He took his workbench into the garden.

Delicately He placed in the bee's sting,

The moth's antenna.


His hand

Not trembling in the slightest.



Små underværker


Splinternye elefanter gennemstrejfede junglene.

Splinternye hvaler plaskede ned gennem verdenshavene.

Gud havde klasket dem sammen,

Lykkelig som en unge der laver mudderkager.


Han tørrede af sine hænder.

’Nu kommer det svære,’ tænkte Han.

Han tog arbejdsbænken ud i haven.

Nænsomt satte Han biens brod på plads,

Natsværmerens antenne.


Med en hånd

Der ikke rystede den mindste smule

Cécile Périn (1877-1959): 'Novembre'



Novembre refleurit à nos rosiers de Mai.

La mer berce en rêvant ses épaules soyeuses;

Et l’air a ce parfum d’oranger que j’aimai

Naguère, en le jardin des minutes heureuses.


Les pétales de fleurs qu’un vent souple semait

Semblent encor joncher l’allée. Et les pleureuses

S’étonnent d’écouter un glas dans l'air quiet

Et de porter un voile noir, mystérieuses.


Comme un ciel de printemps ce ciel d’automne est pur,

Au pied des longs cyprès qui transpercent l’azur

Le Jour des Morts s’éploie ainsi qu’un jour de fête.


Mais sur les chemins clairs que nous avons suivis

Vibre, deuil de cristal, un sanglot de poète...

Solitaire, tu dors... Solitaire, je vis.





November on our May-time rose trees blooms once more.

The dreaming sea lets silken shoulders rise and fall;

And in the air I sense the scent I loved before

Of orange trees, in garden hours when bliss was all.


The petals that a supple breeze sowed everywhere

Seem strewn along the tree-lined path. And startledly

The weeping willows hear a knell sound in calm air,

Still wear a sable veil that lends them mystery.


Just as the sky in spring the autumn sky is chaste,

Beneath tall cypresses that prick an azure sieve

All Souls’ Day opens out as does a festive day.


Along the clear paths, though, where we once made our way

A poet’s sob, a mourning crystalline, vibrates…

All on your own, you sleep… All on my own, I live.


Thursday 27 May 2021

Dan Andersson: 'En svart ballad'


A black ballad


Half-dead he was found near the meadow stream

by Marsh-Dame from the moor – and her son he became

and he ate of her meagre coarse bread,

a thrall and workhand his lot was to be,

the meadow was known as the Foundling’s Lea

and Marsh-Dame she tired and was dead.


As a serflike thrall he bore resigned

the yoke of his toil, and in body and mind

though still young grew old and less spry.

A helpless ache in his eye I once spied

to escape earth’s constraints that were tightly tied

and a thirst to first tire and then die.


No laughter came from him, to speak he was slow,

and like falling stones were his yes and no

if spoken to – always the same.

He dug the earth, carried sand and stones

and never rested his aching bones

until, sunless and cool, evening came.


He would huddle then on his tattered old bed

and hide from the dark in mortal dread

and bathed in a smothering fear.

He often woke up in a beady sweat

and quaked at something he only had met

like an asp though no wind is near.


So day after day and year after year

so bloodless, so cold, with no joy nor tear

I saw how he lived out his life.

And if he thought something, then nobody knows

within reach of his heart no one came close

with prayers, cunning or knife.


One evening then as it grew late

a stone from a rockface fell on his pate

and his evening turned into night.

Since when confused and red was his eye,

he dragged his feet, his mind was awry

and his speech in a sorry plight.


No more did he toil among earth and carts

but roamed along roads that no one charts

night and day, in shadow and light.

And one evening when rainclouds filled the sky

I’ve heard to his childhood home he came nigh

and his mother’s house sought for the night.


And he found it – deserted, empty and locked,

its window with rags and with planks quite blocked,

its garden with weeds everywhere.

And he smashed the planks until all was bared,

then through the window panes wildly stared

and saw his own face there.


’Is it mother? Dear mother, please let me in!

Can you hear the thunder making that din,

see the lightning in the north sky?

Aren’t you there – where are you then today?

It’s not you, it’s me who’s been away –

mother’s ill, she is weak and may die!


She’s unable to walk – she is old and blind,

maybe in the cold attic I her can find –

come – Marsh-John, smash these glass panes!’

And with bloody hands he battered apace,

and a terrible draught swept in through the space

past the window’s shattered remains.


He stormed up the stairs to the loft so bleak

now crimson with fever and blood on his cheek

and eagerly searched straight away.

But nothing he found, only paper and junk

and heard only the western wind’s crashes and thumps

among planks and old things in decay.

And he then rushed downstairs amid shouts and tears

and wet ash had lain in the stove for years

that was swirled by the storm wind’s play.


Through the wide-open hole the rain now swept:

‘Why did you leave your home?’ he wept,

‘Did you stray out on Foundling’s Lea?

The Lord is my father – you, mother, are earth,

and your son’s crowned in blood, of little worth

at your bed as empty can be.’


His brain spun round as if in a sling

with ghosts and trolls in a howling ring,

till he gave out, both tired and ill.

In a rag-strewn corner he made a bed

with sacks as blankets and mumbling said:

‘Now, mother, let’s sleep our fill.’


By a wooden church under distant skies

the Marsh-Dame’s son in a poor man’s grave lies

and wild flowers spread without cease.

Deep under the grass is his quiet berth,

he is now at rest with mother and earth

in a lightless and endless peace.



To see the original ballad, go to here

Kjell Espmark: 'När jordskalvet kom till Mexico City'

When the earthquake came to Mexico City

four storeys fell down on top of us.

There were around of us seamstresses,

most of us with no papers.

The government office had moved out

because of the danger of collapse

and the factory taken over the risk.

After that heavy antennas were allowed on the roof.

They were said to weigh 40 tons.

How much did our lives weigh?


Wednesday 26 May 2021

Klaus Høecks afskedssalut


     and death said to me

i will give you three years more

     if you will stop pos


     ing and putting on

an act all the time – will stop

     imagining things


     and putting on airs

okay i answered that's a

     deal – but in that case


     you are to stop hood

winking me and leading me

     astray i replied



     ole sarvig wrote 

his green poems collection

     a generation


     ago – and they're still

standing – they pop up every

     year in october


     like death caps – but aren't

such mushrooms both a bright red

     and highly toxic?


     and so what – they grow

only in fairytales at

     the back of my mind



     it is as if re

ality has become too 

     real at the moment


     now that corona

has decided it will add

     the crowning glory


     and shown us how frail

the world is that we had con

     sidered unshakea


     ble a year ago

but wait and see in a month

     it will be fake news



     in just a month life

has turned into a struggle

     for rye bread and toi


     let paper – no more

was needed for this than a

     tiny virus which


     when magnified on

screen is as beautiful as

     a red carnation –


     no more was needed

for our own frailty to

     be clearly revealed



     at the world's end stands

the tree of life and that's where

     i'm finally seek


     ing that's the way it

is and there is nothing one

     can do about it


     i'm relatively

unfucked about not com

     pletely burning up


     so write myself out

of this poem to music

     from final countdown



     now it was my turn

to place a book under my

     pillow and to sleep


     soundly among oth

er words in my dreams than my

     own ones other red


     admiral butter

flies from the B-pages of

     the black book other


     hopes for the fu

ture that i can no longer

     expect to be mine



     a singers' war at

heartland – a mad nightingale

     sings the whole night long


     if only then it could

match the notes in yahya has

     sans poems at ze


     ro six hundred hours

i try whistling: time to say

     goodbye but that does


     not help in the slight

est – for it is still singing

     away as i write



     despite corona

and all the deaths taking place

     spring is on the way


     with its usual

splendour of magnolia

     blossoms and new dreams


     about everything's

tremendous power and force ma

     jeure everything's e


     ternal return in

various green disguises

     and new breaking news



     one thing is knowing

oneself (to know what a self

     is) another is 


     living it – god all-

flaming mighty – it takes an

     entire life to


     do it or as some

motherfucker or other

     once said: werde der


     du bist – it takes quite

simply an entire life

     (with the stress on takes)



     i walked over to

the wood to pay a visit

     to the tree i've called


     doubleheart because

the bark at one place has split

     off and has formed a


     heart both in the tree

trunk and in my gaze i saw

     that it was bleeding


     green but took that as 

neither a good nor a bad

     sign but a true one



     and it's all the same

when it really comes to it

     for perhaps i lost


     myself along the

way more than i actual

     ly found myself – or


     maybe i more in

vented myself as a kind

     of proxy or pseudo


     self or what one could

perhaps also give the name:

     an honest liar



     thank you god for al

lowing me to write this great

     number of poems


     i mean i could just

as easily have been dead

     at the age of twen


     ty-six (the number

of the holy spirit) like

     so many other


     poets and then there'd

only have been yggdrasil

     to show – so thank you



     time sure flies

i am writing my last poem

     nothing more to say


     no more nonsense and

no more poems either and

     no more words from me


     death will not mark the

end of my authorship – i

     will do that myself


     i now unsheath po

etry's samurai sword – swiiish –

     did you hear it zip?