Saturday 8 January 2022

Dan Andersson: 'En ballad til mor'



A ballad to mother


All sorrow is drowned  in the solace of wine,

and the thirst of small flowers is quenched in dew,

but I hide the grief of my burning heart

in a dark, heavy ballad from view.

And I hope to God not a single lie

to my ballad so bleak will belong,

it is painful but fine to speak the truth

and at night sing my mother a song.


The clear skies the child saw are hidden from view

and the hand is now hard that was soft,

and strangely contorted are clouds that pass

ere the storm’s on the rampage aloft.

Vain things of the world have lost their scent

and my hope is for sweet smells from high above –

I still sense, Oh mother, the tears in your eyes

when you gaze on your son with great love.


Your life while still young without doubt was hard

from darkness you groped your way here,

an illiterate woman, scrawny and weak

from children and toil worn and drear.

And lonely torment and pain and need

and the godlike love to the child you bore

were bitterly mixed with salt in your bread 

during waiting that wearied you sore.


Though you did not know just how bad I was,

and how close to the death of my soul,

that the smothered light of the stack can take

and extinguish the eye’s gleaming coal,

your heart despite this stayed so close to me,

no matter how far I did stray,

that my anguish you felt like a shadow round you

when you prayed at the end of the day.


Oh woman, you know what my harsh words mean

for in labour and love you gave birth:

I’ll rejoice, mother dear, when you’ve quietly died

and can rest your poor heart in the earth!

For only down there in the silent soil

does rewarding peace finally dwell,

the best – an underground silent space –

should suit such a fond mother well.


So do not live long – your  wayward son

for your soul is unable to grieve,

Ask the Spirit Almighty from up on high

his body to grant no reprieve,

and let us both rest for a thousand years

let silence throughout hold sway –

it may happen, who knows, that a bell of doom tolls

for a timeless and painless day.


The flowers, look, are fading – and trees on the slant

in the setting sun make not a sound,

and far off, dear mother, towards the west

the ocean turns angrily round.

He pulls on his chain, as I do on mine,

liberation! his voice whispers low.

But, mother, I sleep now, my hand in yours:

a burnt-out spring in a fall laced with snow!




No comments: