Sunday 31 July 2022

Bo Bergman: 'Marionetterna'



Det sitter en herre i himlens sal,

och till hans åldriga händer

gå knippen av trådar i tusental

från vart människoliv han tänder.

Han samlar dem alla, och rycker han till,

så niga och bocka vi som han vill

och göra så lustiga piruetter,

vi stackars marionetter.


Vi äta och dricka och älska och slåss

och dö och stoppas i jorden.

Vi bära den lysande tankens bloss,

vi äro så stora i orden.

I härlighet leva vi och i skam,

men allt som går under och allt som går fram

och allt som vår lycka och ofärd bådar

är bara ryck i trådar.


Du åldrige herre i himlens sal,

när ska du tröttna omsider?

Se dansen på dockornas karneval

är sig lik i alla tider.

Ett ryck på tråden - och allting tar slut

och människorsläktet får sova ut,

och sorgen och ondskan vila sig båda

i din stora leksakslåda.





A master and lord sits in heaven’s hall

and up to hands age has blighted

a skein goes of thousands of strings in all

from each human life he’s ignited.

He joins them together, and if he should jerk,

we bow and we curtsey at his every quirk

and do pirouettes so amusing,

poor marionettes of his choosing.


We eat and we drink and we love and we fight

and die and to earth are committed.

We carry the torch of our thought so bright,

and deem our words strong and quick-witted.

We live in great splendour as also in shame

but all that goes under or may lead to fame

and all that can augur good fortune or ruin

is jerks on strings and his doing.


You ancient old lord up in heaven’s hall,

when will you finally tire?

The carnival’s puppet dance spring or fall

displays the same lack of desire.

A jerk on the string – and everything’s gone

and all humankind can sleep on and on

and sorrow and evil rest from endeavour

in your great toy-box for ever.



Saturday 30 July 2022



two in one upon a ground


this yearning for stillness

not silence   not stasis

rather suspension

suspended energy

condensed   compact

the eye of the storm


the music between the notes

the poem between the words

the pause before breathing in

or breathing out

not absence of breath

rather the presence of

moments of stillness

the hidden pulse of things


Thursday 28 July 2022

Bo Bergman: 'Månsken på Strömmen'

Strömmen från Södra Bergen


Månsken på Strömmen


Som klippt i sotat papper står södra bergens kontur,

och Strömmen rullar med svarta virvlar längs kajens mur.


Men över virvlarna spänner månen sin blanka stråt,

och mitt i det blanka gungar en fiskare i en båt.


Nu vevar han upp sitt sänke. Låt se vad han får i kväll.

Det lyser i nätets maskor som idel glimmande fjäll.


Men det är bara vatten, som glittrar och rinner bort.

Han fiskar månsken och sjunger och ror sin väg inom kort.


Poet, vad har du fiskat i kväll, i den strida ström?

En bubbla. En månskensdroppe. En snabbt förrunnen dröm.



Moonlight on Strömmen


A sooted paper cutout seem Södra Bergen’s clear lines,

and Strömmen with coal-black eddies flows past the quay’s confines.


Above the eddies the moon though trails out its gleaming coat,

and at this gleaming’s centre rocks a fisherman in a boat.


He starts to reel in his sinker. Let’s see what he’s caught tonight.

The mesh of his net seems brimful of scales that glimmer with light.


But it is merely water that glitters and runs away.

He fishes moonlight while singing and soon will be on his way.


What, poet, has your catch been in tonight’s fast-whirling stream?

A bubble. A drop of moonlight. A swift-dissipating dream.






Henrik Wergeland: Beginning of 'Jan van Huysum's Flower Piece'




Clumsy human admiration

that needs air and lips to say it!

Clumsier than the shy wonder

humble beasts display, you blunder

wholly in your adoration

squander in rapt adulation; --

with your passion’s savage heart

you misuse your love and slay it:

your adored unsullied art.

         Woe, if now that I need utter

(so compelled I sense my breast

gently moan when it is pressed)

I should cause this drop to flutter

from van Huysum’s soft rose petal

shaken by my lips’ rough breath!

Spring breeze, giddy, slow to settle,

shows more mercy if you will:

Dew’s bright gleam from grove and hedge

rain with iridescent edge,

hid in lady’s-mantle folds

every drop the eye beholds

it has plundered recklessly

in the air has scattered free

.. this one only lies there still,

at its rim like teardrop borne

trembling by an eyelash worn,

outmost in your diadem,

anguish that is sweet and tender

rolled on by your weighty gem;

lovely as the pearl whose splendour

merits it the heart of stars;

full as Magdalena’s tears

full and heavy, almost bursting;

shattering and yet still whole,

as sound counsel ripeness nears

in an angel’s saddened soul. 

         Oh! the smallest drop is christened

great which on that petal glistened.

Glistened? Yes, has it not vanished,

like a word’s for ever banished

once the mouth did it impart

from the still ground of its heart?

Every instant seemed to call

for its weight to cause it fall.

         That it should be ever spilling

ever with more gleam be swelling,

ever trickling and yet filling,

-- is a wonder there’s no telling,

at which I amazed do ponder

art’s great virtue, Nature’s error,

as if sound were captured there,

speeding swallow in the air, 

image in the spring’s clear mirror.

         Oh, what dread with sweet allure!

Fear of wind and sun’s bright ray

Drop that no more can endure!

Fly that wants to speed away!

         Snail that now its house would move

to the leaf below, above!

Painted leaf that up would strive!

Flower-cadavers that yet live!

Oh, what dread with sweet allures!

While I stare at their profusion

I encounter in confusion

features of long-past amours.

Oh, although you are so true

I can scarce believe you grew

’mongst the others on our earth

but in Eden had your birth:

Flowers! that you are therefore

flowers for certain and yet more:

Flowers of flowers, these corpses all

that enthral us in the garden

as pure spirits in God’s heaven 

are like corpses in their pall. 

         Ah, like this bouquet in fashion

would most likely love appear

with its swarm of burning passion

as if lover, while embracing

with abandon his most dear,

had his heart cleft at the seams,

so one in a flash of sight 

(swiftly as a glimpse one spies

of a phantom taking flight)

could discern its inmost dreams,

its unspoken aspirations

its unborn deliberations

its sworn oath before it dies

in a faithless breath of air –

while it still is lying there

as a new-born, pure and fair,

who’ll turn into an offender –

its full hope, ere wings sprout tender 

like the flower’s heart-leaf tips,

its first words ere they are spoken

its great joy ere it has broken

and a smile has touched its lips.    

         Where is found so great a passion,

such great pleasure, choked by pain,

such a muffled heartbeat’s hush,

such a glow on lips that kiss,

such a bleeding heart-wound’s stain

as in that tulip’s deep abyss,

in the dark nocturnal scarlet

of this self-consuming garnet,

this convulsive, sickly flush!

         How delightful is the bliss,

the intoxicating instant

of love’s sweetness when her yes

she gave to you, seen in the two

red roses that each other meet!

After kisses, such a thirst

that they both burn with fierce heat?

How must love’s remorse now hurt,

blushing red with paleness strive

in this whiteness so serene?

Where an urge for joy so thrive

as in this carnation’s sheen?

Where a blood that so can glimmer

as its garnet dew-rain’s shimmer

scattered o’er the pearl’s frail skin?

Sweet devotion’s keenest eyes

never saw in distant skies

for Zion’s blessèd sons a frieze

of such festive great marquees

as convolvuli here spread

bluer than the heaven’s bed,

finer than the modest veil

placed before the bridal mouth.

Innocence can boast no blue

so fine nor cold so shorn

as the hyacinth adorn;

tenderness so fine in muster

as the lilac’s full deployment:

every small flower in its cluster

is its own small vase, with lustre

of a porcelain’s half-shine,

full of honey’s sweet enjoyment

full of butterflies’ rich wine.           

         Are so pure an angel’s mind,

virgin’s thoughts, a new-born’s dream

and the martyr’s tearful stream

as narcissus’ pallid star!

Oh, therein the saint will find

his devotions mirrored are;

for, despite its stem so raised,

it has bowed its pious head,

as if God in prayer it praised,

as if innocence could err

as if it had sinned instead.

And where could a thought be bred

in a young man’s brilliant brain

fiery as on flaming cheek

of this blood-red poppy sleek?

And where such an ardent plan

in manhood’s heart is ever thought

as the flaming vault whose span

in this tulip stretches taut?

And where did there sigh a prayer

that was e’er so chaste and fair

as that slender blue-eyed Mary

which so humbly, coyly clings

– coy as thought of silent tears –

to a moss-rose bud so clear?

And where is the bard that sings

equal to this mute small thing

Floral mysteries, the chary,

if but once it bared its art

and its rosy lips would part?

         Oh, could this bud speak to me,

and a spirit it inspire

Oh, I’d beg it if I could

(beauties may be begged with fire)

to inform me if it would

how such flowers came to be!

Wednesday 27 July 2022

Marie Dauguet: 'Dans l'enchevêtrement des genêts et des roches'



Dans l’enchevêtrement des genêts et des roches,

La neige molle fond en taches inégales;

Aux branchages confus, des flocons lourds s’accrochent

Et du brouillard gluant par les combes s’affale.


La sauvage forêt s’endort; nulle rafale

N’ébranle plus les troncs que la mousse guilloche,

A l’écho sommeilleux aucun son qui ricoche,

Du silence à long flots avec le soir dévale.


Par le bois déserté où tombe la nuit morne,

Plus rien, atténué, qu’un rauque appel de corne,

Ralliant au piqueur quelque meute inquiète,


Et, foulant les ronciers alentour de sa bauge,

Auprès d’un ruisseau noir où son ombre patauge,

Qu’un vieux-grand-sanglier qui casse des noisettes. (1)


(1) Terme de piqueur : Sanglier furieux dont les défenses claquent.





In the tight-knit entanglement of rocks and broom,

The soft snow thaws in patches of unequal size;

The heavy flakes latch onto boughs where there is room,

And clinging mist sinks into valleys from the skies.


The untamed forest falls asleep; strong gusts of air

No longer rattle trunks that are engraved with moss,

To sleepy echoes no sound ricochets across,

When evening comes, deep silence floods in everywhere.


In the deserted wood, where gloomy night now falls

All’s quiet, subdued, except a husky horn that calls,

To bring back to the huntsmen the unsettled pack,


And, around his wallow, trampling through briars his track,

Close to a black stream where his shadow’s locked in mire,

An old, large, angry boar cracks nuts to show his ire. (1)


(1) Hunting term: A furious male boar that clacks its tusks.



Tuesday 26 July 2022

Ole Sarvig: 'Regn (En ko)'


Regn (En ko)


Regn, falder lun regn


over tørstende haver

og tørre hegn.


Regn, regner godt vand


over gullige marker

og svedent land.


Regn, lyder brun ko


i markernes store

regnende ro.



Rain (A cow)


Rain, fall now warm rain


over parched, thirsting gardens

and dried-out hedge.


Rain, good water now


over fields turning yellow

and drought-parched land.


Rain, low now brown cow


in fields that abound in

rain and sheer peace.


Marie Dauguet: 'Les chênes'



Bancroches, boiteux, tortus,

Et branlant leurs fronts têtus,

Epris de cimes plus hautes,

Loin des arbrisseaux déchus,

Les chênes montent les côtes

Avec leurs grands pieds crochus,

Parmi le couchant de braise;

Le fardeau du vent leur pèse

Et courbe leurs dos fourbus;

Mais ils vont, d’or rouge embus,

Ils vont les chênes en vie

Vers les sommets qu’ils envient,

Ils vont les chênes, ils vont; 

Peut-être ils se casseront

Jambes et bras; sous l’écorce,

Leur grand cœur peut-être à force

D’énergie éclatera;

Mais rien ne les retiendra

Hors des émouvants mystères

Du ciel au rire vermeil:

J’aime les chênes, mes frères,

En marche vers le soleil.





Lame, crippled, with twisted boughs,

And tossing their stubborn brows,

Higher summits their fond hope,

Far from shrubs that know defeat,

The oak trees climb up the slope

With their huge and hook-like feet,

In sunset embers’ last glow;

The weight of the wind the load

That bows down their backs like lead;

On they go, with red gold fed,

The live oaks still onwards go

Towards peaks they envy so,

They go on, the oaks, they go;

Arms and legs by some hard blow

May well break; beneath their bark

Their great heart may cease to spark,

From energy simply crack;

But nothing will hold them back

From sky’s stirring mystery

And vermilion laugh of glee:

The oaks, my brothers, I love,

That march to the sun above.