DEDICATION Here on Uppsala's plains, remote and cold, in the winter nights we have often strolled. Silent we walked. The plain lay nearby. The stars had flamed since eternity. The stars flamed, frightening, mute, Side by side we went, strangers, on foot, divided in striving, divided in eye, Dear to us both were the plain and the sky. Once folk the ancient hearths did raise here in the far-off worlds' shimmering gaze. Fire against fire in time no one knows gathered their flocks while the earth froze. Here fields were ploughed by the first to plough, ploughed while in forests the wolves did howl. Here on the sacred hearths glowing red from the corn was baked a coarse, hard bread. Here stood the court, where crowds made sacrifice, full of dread in the threat of a long winter's ice, full of wailing under vaults with light a-shake, when round earth universal night did quake. See how the lights on the plains twinkle cold, fighting the dark that the winter nights hold! The night is unending, blown bark, the earth's. Give me your hand! We're the brood of the hearths. 1. By ice-walls and ice-silence is peace protected in my daybreak land, where the air trembles, pale with hunger for sun-life and sun-brand. The thorn-thickets in fearful waiting in hollow trunks hard round close in all the flames that pray and beg to soon burst forth in blossoming. You know the word, you alone. Speak, speak and wake my land! Free the trees from their daybreak anguish, light the air with your lifted hand! Blossoms shall rain for your foot to trample, sunbeams dance when smiles you pour. Speak, speak! I desire to blossom you to happiness, and nothing more. Silent is space, pale with hunger. Stiff and cold is my closed hand. By ice-walls and ice-silence is peace protected in my daybreak land. And well I know that the magic word, it is never said, I will never be free. Mute your narrow lips close when proud you stride like a deer past me. 2. The whole of my soul I have fixed to one thought, hard, hard, so I felt it with my hand, the whole of my soul I have hurled through the air to you, far away, If you see it lie like an asteroid fallen, still after flight glowing in the sand, if you walk past it in your vaulting rhythm. then you are likely not thinking of me. The whole of my soul I have fixed to a single thought, the whole of my soul lies heavy before your feet. I myself am so empty it hurts and aches. You, you my friend! Do you not notice, or will you not notice the thing that's been torn from its trembling roots? Have you no use for my poor soul? Am I just in the way again? 3. If I take your wasted hand, they will wither, all the dreams of sunlit lands. Let them fall! Blossoms in white and pink, fruit to harvest, all is worth nothing against your burden. Waves with salt foam, golden rocks pale against your grey, leafless evenings. If I cannot ever heal fate's blows - give me your bitter day to share! Give me your meagre autumn! I can freeze. If there is a glint of consolation it will glow. Only a splash of light is given to you here in your empty house, I give my life. 4. Each word from you is like a seed. Its root bores deep away. I waken from a secret pain and find no remedy. Consumes me then like bitter thirst Each movement that you made. Each intonation and each glance grows near and bright and great. My day is grey with me and mine, which makes my figure dull. But mirror-bright is the night's world, where you are all, all. 5. I think death is like you, tall and pale and straight like you, temples cast in a vault that is the same, sea-eyed, distant-eyed as you and with the same lips, closed by pain. You are death. I am yours, my hand yours and my mind yours. You have deadened all life's burgeoning, lulled into a sorrowful sleep dream and deed that scarce have tried their wing. But I love you, my death, you my long, bitter death, in whose closed hand my life withers away. You my sweet, sweet death - I bless your torture's every day! 6. All, all I owned was thine more than mine. All the most beautiful I wanted was thine, thine, thine. Aloud with thee I spoke what no one in the world knows. On endless roads thou wast my loneliness. if I lay awake at night with nothing in my thought, if I breathed, I felt thee, thee. Thou wast round about. Lifeless is life, where thou dost not remain. The world is an immense shell, that has no kernel in. 7. Light lily bells on Kungsangen's plain I plucked one spring, when I thought it was fall. My heart was like them - only much less light - a mute, red bell that begged to call. Where goes all the song that is choked and locked in? Where goes all the longing that attains not a thing? Perhaps it lies mixed in the water and soil. Perhaps is is there in the wind's whistling. Though nothing has happened, I can manage no more. Mortally weary am I. What have I done? Perhaps I have striven in lands none have seen? Hard I toiled at the gate of the rising sun! I dragged stones in sleepless night. Then I built a marble palace in shimmering elegance. My anguish raised the pinnacles. Of the fountain's laugh one hears no more that every drop was once tears. Like fire burn the roses towards the pillars' stone, and sunwhite towers drink blue peace that the heavens give. But over the gate it says SOLACE. And the air is pure. And I have prayed to the angels that there you shall live. I put my bells by your locked, closed door. To release their tongues was beyond my hand. You say that your life is as bitter as before. But I have built a palace for you in a far, far land... 8. That which is said once is always said and till the end of time will stay, and no night of anguish has power to wipe that word away. But strange it is, that a single word can choke the beauty we recall and turn our aery dream to earth, till remorse alone is all. Thus grow cool two long and heavy years, when the fairest things budding came, before only one word, that eternally stands and turns my life to shame. 9. On my knees I want to give thanks because you smiled. Through stifling air and restlessness moved a gentle wind, mild. So bitterly salt are the tears a repentant one must give. I know you despise me. I know you forgive. In long days and nights I have cruelly learned here that we are here to lose what we hold most dear. Your hem I want to kiss because you smiled. A smile without scorn, That is much, high-piled. 10. I feel your footsteps in the hall. I feel in each nerve your hurried steps. which otherwise no one will notice. Around me sweeps a wind of fire. I feel your footsteps, your beloved footsteps, and my soul hurts. You move far away in the hall, but the air billows with your footsteps and sings as the sea sings. I listen, caught in your consuming force. In the rhythm of your rhythm, in time to yours, beats my pulse in hunger. 11. There is a happiness of death, a happiness of destruction, which to my thirsting mouth only one can give, a happiness inexorable to senselessly embrace and sink deep and dark into annihilation's well. I broke free of your shadow. Around me it grows. I hear your name As I follow my ways. I chose the light of day, and I want your dark. I will give sight and life for your soul and your embrace. 12. I am victory-crowned with suffering's wreath, with the burning flowers of new, fresh pain, though my shame was effaced by a hand so cool, and mercy-mild your judgement came. I am tottering drunk with aching and woe I have tasted the bitter drink I desire I want more. I want to see the cup's base. I want to die on my threshold here. Now the night has life, now the sky has power, now the earth and things are in reality caught. I am blissful in the splendour of the great dark and with living pain I am hot. I am proud to share the sorrow that is yours, I am rich with all the old pain you gave breath. But that swoon of rejoicing that binds me in, that is the breathing of death. 13. The snow it falls, the wind it whines, frozen is Fyri's river. The earth is lame and the heavens blind, and life lies deserted forever. It was a dream, a dream yesterday, Today I have already woken. When will your pain be again so intense that I must share its hurting? A day is so long. A day is so long. Even longer is the night. My mind is enclosed in a frozen vice, and my thought shrinks ever more tight. 14. I want to freeze in the street here below To see two windows in a gable glow. To me the one who lives there is very dear. I grow sick at heart when there's light in there. I will go to the corner, I will slowly turn, so I'll catch a glimpse of you maybe, then. That you are so near... Why am I here? I grow sick at heart when there's light in there. 15. Falling stars that the night scatters, lightnings that glitter in flight, proud suns that the darkness drowns - who will call that destruction? Tongue of fire till the last you shall die, you shall fade, unbending in losing all, heavy with fate as an ancient song. Mountain summits in immense outline, sea's expanses at break of day, great forests in miles-wide stretching - such is all I know of you. Sea-deafened in the roar of surf, sun-dazzled in the light of snow, lulled in triumphant dreams of murmuring pines - thus do I bless your splendour. I DISTRUST... I believe in those who live on a farm and break the soil. They take their strength from nourishing earth, and strengthen the earth as well. I distrust those who seek in want a distant home. They gladden so few, and only their sort. But I am one of them. Sooner my starving soul, I suppose, like a dog with no master would stray suspiciously shy round barred-up house and freeze pitifully away, than be chained fast to watch its farm in honourable calling and raise to the homeless migrant pack a conviction-ridden howling. I see them move over moor and marsh wherever the dream will fly. I know that I am blood of their blood. What use then am I? IN THE DARK In the dark I lie and hear bells that outside thunder near with long and heavy, even strokes, like deep breaths the darkness takes. They deaden all and make all sleep and free each object's misty shape in long and heavy, even boom that thought will never be free from. I am amongst those who scarce exist and only know and reminisce about old darkness's beating heart that hopes to see no morrow start. That fears no morrow or its start. COMPELLED Of poverty I am a priest, and will probably always be. Who nothing has can dare the most, for deed and thought set free. I hear the evil voice's scorn: 'Virtue you make of need. What have you then to abstain from? What if you had your bread?' Yes, it is true that I have stood and begged at happiness' door and wept when I was given nought and all was empty as before. Yes, it is true that all's compelled. But is it worth less then? One meaning in our song is held: to make our fate a friend. TO THE SHADOW OF A REALITY You are one of my dreams - good if no one wakes me! - one of my beautiful candles, that darkness not cover me. Fighter for goals so pale, ice and glass and sharpened steel! The brilliant day I scarce know if the dream will bear. There is solace in the dream's perfumes, cool, scarcely perceptible. Yet I would give them all away for the earthly real. Warmth of dear beautiful hands... I want to love, not fantasize. Life's ripeness the dream will never imitate. THE TWO LINEAGES My song is sung for the folk of Wrath on the heath that is thistle-ridden, for those whom the angel with flaming sword drove out of forfeited Eden. Thistle-down, thistle-down over the fields wind-driven, without the strength to root and grow inside the pleasure garden. But the legends say that God's sons formerly found earth beauteous on the hills of Morn, in the golden gleam of primordial ages' radiance, and the daughters of men were there as guests in nights of the moon's billowy flounces, sowed children from their ether-seed, from lineage of heavenly princes. The happy one meets their offspring, and their hands bring happiness. I have seen them go midst the thistles who walked on the shores of the blest.- - - But there is also value in nights of sleepless dolour, and he who knows what anguish is knows more than many a scholar. I have seen them walk midst the thistles. They are free, they are weightless and clear, and I quiver with longing and worship for a gaze and a movement mere. But say, who has touched our family's root, those souls of glittering streamings or you - with your eyes that are full of night and your red mouth of bloodstained dreamings? THE SWALLOWS Hurrying, arrowing swallows, on wings resting high in the blue expanses, wind-light in whistling gusts scorning the earth's inertness - like a laugh of ridicule, clear, light, ringing, with contempt your flight meets our hearts' weight, like a jubilation, leaping from heights, tidings of space's own power that plays, and light can penetrate... Sun goes down, but up there lingers all the day's grand state, round about you, high in a playfully won, airy place, happy, fortunate. TO SOMEONE WHO IS VERY YOUNG Slender new moon, white new moon, pale-shimmering flame, lit in the night's wide room, clear blue moth, frail blue moth, startled awake and waiting-tensed, when warm falls the twilight gloom, fragile flower-bell, bright flower-bell, glass-brittle through and through, elf and spring-being, sylph and spring-being - child, may happiness come to you! I WANT TO MEET... Armed, erect and and closed in armour forth I came - but of terror was the mail-coat cast, and of shame. I want to drop my weapons, sword and shield. All that hard hostility made me cold. I have seen the dry seeds grow at last. I have seen the bright green spread out fast. Mightier than iron is life's tenderness, driven forth from the earth's heart without defence. The spring dawns in winter's regions, where I froze. I want to meet life's powers weaponless. FROM A BAD GIRL I hope you're having a rotten time. I hope you're lying awake like I am, and feeling strangely glad and stirred and dizzy and anxious and very disturbed. and suddenly you'll hurry up to settle down and sleep like a top. I hope it takes you longer than you think... I hope you don't even get a wink! THE STARS GROW IN THE SPRING... The stars grow in the spring great as drops that quiver, soft as living creatures with white bodies a-shimmer. swelling like sacred fruits, falling near, near, too ripeningly heavy for fragile heavens to bear. Trembling starry creatures, fair and defencelessly naked, yearning to loosen and glide, to touch the earth and waken, yearning to serve their fate, written above depth in light, yearning to fight and create and taste death and life. Heaviest and whitest of all near the horizon hangs one that is willing to fall ripe and clear to the hand, Sense that the hour is near. Someone waits for us to meet. Man with the temper of stars, into my womb shake a fruit! TORKEL TYRE East of Bjura village is a wild and desolate stretch, where lichen-shaggy spruces stand sullenly on watch. There lived Torkel Tyre, till murder outlawed the wretch. Near Bjura village lies a mossy stone. If one hides behind it when evening has begun, one sees the village glimmer with many a warm tone. 'There's a light in Halvar's farm. There's a light in Torsten's place. There sits Torsten carving by a crackling log fire blaze. There's a light in Kettil's cottage. Each light I recognize. What did I know of land, safe on land ensconced? Now on long nights I stand and count the treasure I lost. Gold gleams above the drifts in winter nights' blue dust.' Thus stood he and looked and looked, when the sliding of skis was heard. A panting maiden came wild in flight, to the village in need she was turned. Close behind her a shadow slid with eyes that burned. But Torkel seized his knife. He hewed, he stabbed, he cut, and sharp, white teeth gave answers obstinate. Near morning he felled the wolf, but tired to death, lay flat. We found him where he lay. And note that we acted well. We sent word to the priest. He delivered the man's soul. When the sun rose over the forest, we beat Torkel to hell. We could have spared his life, but the value of such is not great. A murderer was Torkel. We acted as we ought. We all are men from the land, and this was done aright. THE CARILLON 'The carillon plays, and the town listens quiet. Such silver-pure sounds our world has never heard. Such beautiful playing has no one, so elaborate no one. O master, divine one, you, a miracle you have worked!' 'A man works no miracle, but God, God alone. A man works no miracle, but God with his hand. As dust are our lives, and our deaths a shadow's shadow. Only he deserves reverence here in earthly life's land.' Then spoke the town's prince: 'My carillon is glorious. With honour does the town raise its summits to the skies. That never you may lend your art to another, as pledge, O master, I demand your eyes.' - 'My hand was made to work, my spirit to create, for a hundred more carillons to life I was waked. See here! My eye gleams with the fire from above, which no prince may light, if once it is slaked.' 'There awaits all you wish for, that men can give you of carefree days at my covered board - cruel was I never - , only not the hours of toil. Be pleased with your fate - know, I stand by my word.' - 'I suppose, mild prince, I must try your mildness. I bow to the power of your princely discretion. But one more time let me see my work and rejoice! O powerful, o mild one, grant my plea satisfaction!' Up he stepped to the bell-tower, and down again, and the executioner took his eyes, then he led him away. In his pain he was mute; but more mute his bells. And never again did the carillon play. Then said the town's prince: 'You shall die for your misdeed, you thief, who stole from the town its voice's fair laud. On thousands your wretched eyes, your pride you've avenged...' He said: 'May I die! I have avenged God.' THE CONDEMNED When the great trial reached its end, after judgement, speeches, all the silent thoughts of the condemned held colloquy in the silent hall. One man to the other said: 'No one knows how we shall fare. Perhaps it is really just the start of a work that awaits us there. Your features are very pale, white as that white glow, living as flames live. To death we've still far to go. Burning and without fear we shall go to the bitter last, burning and without fear our spirits will rise like a spark. Through empty, cold expanses the wind may drive it far, but where the forest is driest, two hot sparks will fall.' THE MAN WITHOUT MERCY He is the man without mercy - eyes of shimmering amber, eyes of shining cold gold, hands of ivory bone: clear and hard eyes, fine and hard hands - reckoned by passionate dreamers as stone of the desert's stone. The desert has wide realms of sand and strange springs, dead cities and living leaves and light for an anchorite. There he has pitched his camp, his thin, needy tent - Trappist in science, an ascetic of the mind. His aspiring vulnerability like a hindrance he breaks in the battle, reckless, when needs be, and cold to whistling, laughter, applause. Inhuman he seems. Like the north wind his pathos chills. He fights the frightening fight of thought, the man with no mercy at all. SAMSON SINGS AS HE GRASPS THE PILLARS OF THE TEMPLE: Ordained a nazir to the Lord you scarcely possess a name, chosen, lifted from the earth's mild embrace you came. Ordained a nazir to the Lord you are called the Lord's hand and brandish the Lord's lightning in terror-stricken lands. Ordained a nazir to the Lord the Lord's spirit you bear and have not your own spirit to love a mortal dear. Woe to that hour when man and god I failed, when I became the man Samson, and the order's strength quailed. In remorse grew my power near the millstones' din. Of victories easily won they spoke to Judah's son. Now I pull down Dagon's temple, for Samson is devoured, and I am again a nameless one, whose name is the Lord's sword! THE STAR Sparklingly frosty with frozen light the Milky Way's waves wash stars like gravel tight. One only is mine. She is known to my thought - my fate's light of eternity, my life and my lot. In immense strength she rose, when dark me did cloak. When defenceless I fell, me to star-life she woke. With silver nails my soul to a star was bound. Thus wanders free its given way my being's kernel and ground. Who intends to choose me must woo the star. In her dwells my worth, my will in her. In her is my home, From her my law on high. O star, o my deed and my goal, you are I! THE GRASS'S SONG Yesterday I lay broken in the rainshowers' stream. Now washed and clean I rise from degradation's dream. I read in the light, I hear with dread life's eternal commandment 'Forget!' in the morning's hum. I saw lightnings splinter the noblest oak, and I saw mountains weather in the ages' joke, but stronger than either from the winters' peril in a thousand springs I rise aloft, immortal, weak. My root is fixed in death, in mouldered things' dwelling-place. I do not remember their fates, but I feel them sprout, increase. The past's spirit trembles in bright green meshes and ripens to an eternal now in the grassy ground's peace. THE SEA Salt, bitter salt is the sea, and clear and cold. In the depths much moulders away, but the sea cleanses all. Wild, prey-beast wild is the surf's glittering leap, but no human thoughts are high as the song of the deep. Strong, eternal and strong is the waves' immense train, and strong with the eternal sea each wave soft, transient. Though the sea asks blood of her man, give your life to the sea. At last, deep in the depths, none attains a rest like he. IN MOTION The sated day is never first. The best day is a day of thirst. Yes, there is goal and meaning in our path - but it's the way that is the labour's worth. The best goal is a night-long rest, fire lit, and bread broken in haste. In places where one sleeps but once, sleep is secure, dreams full of songs. Strike camp, strike camp! The new day shows its light. Our great adventure has no end in sight. OF THOSE WHO FELL TOO SOON Happy he that marches in light of waiting's dawn. Happy he that falls long ere victory was won. Before the battling army grows a host, beings of light with mighty weapons to ply: all the faithful who fell ere the harvest was ripened, all the young who never had time to fade to ash. Happy he that exchanges the narrow life he bore for their empire and their victorious power. Like pillars supporting a bridge over the deeps, freed from human limits by human longing, they bear on their shoulders the weary who succumb, lead with arms of security the weak who hesitate. Happy he that falls and lives none the less. In souls his soul he makes a thousandfold increase. Rest and death never had a portion in the strong. They are still here in our battle. Forever they are ours. High above the hosts their lances flame like fire, raised as promises and signs and banners to follow. Happy we that follow Happy we for their giving. We are dust and soil and they the living. THE FALLING MORNING STAR 'Fall,' said the Lord, 'fall, defiant morning star! darkness will I grant you gladly. You are dearest to me in all the world.' 'Fall,' said the Lord, 'fall, burning blue flame! Gleam in the torment of the deep, build yourself a city of black crystal!' 'Fall,' said the Lord, 'fall! You who would taste all evil, will you come back soon? You are nearest to me in all the world.' THE WORLD IS DREAMT... The world is dreamt by a sleeping god, and the dawn's shiverings moir‚ his soul. The memories of things that happened yesterday, before the world was there, haunt, glint. That in whose being we have no part meets us where the way bends, it breathes a horror that is not ours, from the limits far away, from worlds with other laws. Sleep, sleep heavier, slumberer, until the dream torments you no more, or waken to the day, creator, and make us real! THE WORLD'S HEART Say, where does the world's heart burn, the world's heart of fire? It lives on coarse, heavy prehistoric coal: black darkness, dense night, Chaos. Seek there! For thus is the nature of fire: strong with its foe's struggle - itself a struggle, glowing struggle - has no other nature. And the victory? When the darkness has disappeared in flames? Is the victory death? Empty question and empty fear! The world's heart is fire, and fire wants to conquer. THE CORRUPTER I am led by a snake's gaze, rigid, cruel - it stares towards me from the farthest distance, guides my steps in the nearest nearness, holds me captive in coercive fear, binds my will... Who gave the snake his fearful beauty, the abyss attraction, death sweetness? Who gave horror the fatal delight that entices like a darker happiness? Perhaps there yonder, by the eternal springs, where the veils fall, the Corrupter will meet me in another form. Art thou God's shadow, evil one? God's nocturnal twin brother? THE STONES God had given us heavy souls of stone. Then we stood on the shore of the sea, where the sunbeams leapt, where the foam danced, where the gulls sailed in light. Then we hurled the stones in a game of dying. One must do something with stones. They grazed the surface, they bounded in arcs, they glided over the deep like winds! And happy is our sleep: it is touched by wings, by swallows that hurtle over the water. WE SLEEPY CHILDREN In by the darkened shore glides a lonely white sail, like a tired, probing bird seeking a refuge for the night, and above in the deepening sky a bright twilight cloud, drifting apathetically like one who is just about to fall asleep... Now we turn back, we sleepy children, to our home near here, and smooth our thoughts from our brow, and smooth our deeds from our hands. We leave them to fade like forgotten games, we drop them for that which is real and lean with the blind trust of children against an unknown mother's knee. THE BYGONE DAYS When an old man lies ill, all his bygone days come and sit gently in a ring around his bed. They don't complain, they do not cry or sob. They nod slowly and think of old things. And each of them tells his never forgotten story, and each of them has a candle and lights it quietly. They are reflected clearly in the dark rivers' water. He goes, goes beneath vaults, beneath arches of quivering light. THE WATER BABIES Around our cradle billowed soft as seaweed transparent water-sprites, intangible. Timelessly happy we rested in windless depth. Who tore us loose from our home? Like eddying bubbles we sighed towards the light, like gleaming silver fishes we glided in lead-grey sea. Then we stood with dripping hair on the shore one morning in an alien land. Never will we find our way home. We go forth as in a dream. Our moist, dark eyes are shy of the sun. Our cool and gentle hands are shy of action. Our floating, yielding souls are shy of loving. They wriggle like serpents away from all scorching heat... We go as in a dream, our world is foam. Our distant coolness is a greeting from our father's kingdom, where the gates arch up from glass-green water - the gates to eternal rest. LILITH'S SONG The clouds hang heavy, ripen in tepid darkness, where they're concealed, night-blue clusters of grapes, heavy with wine that silent pours on every field, heavy with wine of the Deep, heavy with secret power, sucked out of sea and sky and bitter dew in outermost darkness's shore. Life's hot vapour condenses in drops, falls in dead silent night. Raise the cup! You shall capture the key where no one his foot has set - the land where the spirit freed beyond time's border fence tastes in eternities things that are never felt or seen or sensed. Behind waking worlds seethe alien seas of delight and woe the world-deep's smithy-forges, from which leapt like a spark what our eyes know. Do you dare take the way there, blazed in horror's drunkenness? Terror-struck, blessed you will attain the eternal Mothers' dark houses... Blown seed on wide waters, flower of the Deep, that never saw its root, dragonfly shy of the night - one day the Mothers' night will greet your foot! Death with pain is black. Death with joy is white. Plunged in his murmuring waves you will forget life's coast of clouded light.
translated by David McDuff
Copyright © 1997 David McDuff
This Home Page was created by WebEdit,Saturday, January 25, 1997
Most recent revision Saturday, January 25, 1997