Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rabindranath Tagore

 



















Poems on Time

The butterfly counts not months but moments,
and has time enough.

Time is a wealth of change,
but the clock in its parody makes it mere change and no wealth.

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time
like dew on the tip of a leaf.



Rabindranath Tagore  (1861-1941)


photo:gb

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Haiku by Matsuo Basho
















I would sleep,
borrowing the sleeve of the scarecrow.
Midnight frost. 

 
Karite nemu
kakashi no sode ya
yowa no shimo 




Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)


foto: gb

Friday, December 16, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe

The Lake 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    In spring of youth it was my lot
       To haunt of the wide world a spot
       The which I could not love the less-
       So lovely was the loneliness
       Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,
       And the tall pines that towered around.

       But when the Night had thrown her pall
       Upon that spot, as upon all,
       And the mystic wind went by
       Murmuring in melody-
       Then- ah then I would awake
       To the terror of the lone lake.

       Yet that terror was not fright,
       But a tremulous delight-
       A feeling not the jewelled mine
       Could teach or bribe me to define-
       Nor Love- although the Love were thine.

       Death was in that poisonous wave,
       And in its gulf a fitting grave
       For him who thence could solace bring
       To his lone imagining-
       Whose solitary soul could make
       An Eden of that dim lake.
 
 
Edgar Allan Poe (  1809-49)
 
 
photo:gb 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Der er ingenting i verden så stille som sne...............

Skovridervej, Århus
A sweet little Danish song poem about snow from 1896 - it can be said so softly that you almost feel the snowflakes upon your face.

Listen to the song on Bambi:


Der er ingenting i verden så stille som sne,
når den sagte gennem luften daler,
dæmper dine skridt,
tysser, tysser blidt på de stemmer,
som for højlydt taler.

Der er ingenting i verden af en renhed som sne,
svanedun fra himlens hvide vinger.
På din hånd et fnug
er som tåredug.
Hvide tanker tyst i dans sig svinger.

Der er ingenting i verden, der kan mildne som sne.
Tys, du lytter, til det tavse klinger.
O, så fin en klang,
sølverklokkesang
inderst inde i dit hjerte ringer.

Helge Rode, 1870-1937 

photo:gb

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Les Fleurs Du Mal - Charles Baudelaire

The Flowers of Evil



















SPLEEN (II)


Souvenirs?
More than if I had lived a thousand years!

No chest of drawers crammed with documents,
love-letters, wedding-invitations, wills,
a lock of someone's hair rolled up in a deed,
hides so many secrets as my brain.
This branching catacombs, this pyramid
contains more corpses than the potter's field:
I am a graveyard that the moon abhors,
where long worms like regrets come out to feed
most ravenously on my dearest dead.
I am an old boudoir where a rack of gowns,
perfumed by withered roses, rots to dust;
where only faint pastels and pale Bouchers
inhale the scent of long-unstoppered flasks.


Nothing is slower than the limping days
when under the heavy weather of the years
Boredom, the fruit of glum indifference,
gains the dimension of eternity . . .
Hereafter, mortal clay, you are no more
than a rock encircled by a nameless dread,
an ancient sphinx omitted from the map,
forgotten by the world, and whose fierce moods
sing only to the rays of setting suns.

 (Les Fleurs du Mal in a translation by Richard Howard 1982, The Harvester Press Limited, published 1987 Picador Classics, London.)


Les Fleurs Du Mal

SPLEEN  (II)

J'ai plus de souvenirs que si j'avais mille ans.

Un gros meuble à tiroirs encombré de bilans,
De vers, de billets doux, de procès, de romances,
Avec de lourds cheveux roulés dans des quittances,
Cache moins de secrets que mon triste cerveau.
C'est une pyramide, un immense caveau,
Qui contient plus de morts que la fosse commune.
- Je suis un cimetière abhorré de la lune,
Où comme des remords se traînent de longs vers
Qui s'acharnent toujours sur mes morts les plus chers.
Je suis un vieux boudoir plein de roses fanées,
Où gît tout un fouillis de modes surannées,
Où les pastels plaintifs et les pâles Boucher,
Seuls, respirent l'odeur d'un flacon débouché.

Rien n'égale en longueur les boiteuses journées,
Quand sous les lourds flocons des neigeuses années,
L'ennui, fruit de la morne incuriosité,
Prend les proportions de l'immortalité,
- Désormais tu n'es plus, ô matière vivante!
Qu'un granit entouré d'une vague épouvante,
Assoupi dans le fond d'un Saharah brumeux;
Un vieux sphinx ignoré du monde insoucieux,
Oublié sur la carte, et dont l'humeur farouche
Ne chante qu'aux rayons du soleil qui se couche.

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)



photo Pokeweed 2011: grethe bachmann

Friday, October 21, 2011

Everything - Anna Akhmátova









Everything


Everything's looted, betrayed and traded,
black death’s wing’s overhead.
Everything’s eaten by hunger, unsated,
so why does a light shine ahead?

By day, a mysterious wood, near the town,
breathes out cherry, a cherry perfume.
By night, on July’s sky, deep, and transparent,
new constellations are thrown.

And something miraculous will come
close to the darkness and ruin,
something no-one, no-one, has known,
though we’ve longed for it since we were children.

 Anna Akhmátova, Russia (1889-1966)

 

 

photo: gb

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Elisabeth Barrett Browning - AUTUMN



 As you might have noticed, I do not bring modern poetry. That's because of the copyright. Usually I do not go as far back as Hávámal, and I'll confess that Hávámal was a challenge!!  Well, it can be swallowed in pieces! There are many "good old poets" though, from whom we might lend a poem. Here is a nice poem about Autumn by Elisabeth Barrett Browning. Enjoy!










Autumn
Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them --
The summer flowers depart --
Sit still -- as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, --
Their presence may be o'er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh'd our mind,
Shall come -- as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind -- view not the woods;
Look out o'er vale and hill-
In spring, the sky encircled them --
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn's scathe -- come winter's cold --
Come change -- and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne'er be desolate. 
  Elisabeth Barrett Browning (1809-1861)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hávamál - Sayings of the High One

















This is really a great mouthfull, but the verse and advice can be taken one by one!!! 
They were not so far from us those ancient guys! Enjoy!




Hávamál ( Sayings of the high one) is presented as a single poem in the Poetic Edda, a collection of Old Norse poems from the Viking age. The poem, itself a combination of different poems, is largely gnomic, presenting advice for living, proper conduct and wisdom.
The verses are attributed to Odin. The implicit attribution to Odin facilitated the accretion of various mythological material also dealing with Odin. For the most part composed in the metre
Ljódaháttr, a metre associated with wisdom verse, Hávamál is both practical and metaphysical in content. Following the gnomic "Hávamál proper" follows the Rúnatal, an account of how Odin won the runes, and the Ljóðatal, a list of magic chants or spells. The poem was written down in the 13th century. Individual verses or stanzas nevertheless certainly date to as early as the 10th, or even the 9th century.
See wikipedia: Hávamál



 




The Hávamál

Young and alone on a long road,
Once I lost my way:
Rich I felt when I found another;
Man rejoices in man,


A kind word need not cost much,
The price of praise can be cheap:
With half a loaf and an empty cup
I found myself a friend,

Two wooden stakes stood on the plain,
On them I hung my clothes:
Draped in linen, they looked well born,
But, naked, I was a nobody


Too early to many homes I came,
Too late, it seemed, to some:
The ale was finished or else un-brewed,
The unpopular cannot please,


Some would invite me to visit their homes,
But none thought I needed a meal,
As though I had eaten a whole joint,
Just before with a friend who had two

The man who stands at a strange threshold,
Should be cautious before he cross it,
Glance this way and that:
Who knows beforehand what foes may sit
Awaiting him in the hall?

Greetings to the host,
The guest has arrived,
In which seat shall he sit?
Rash is he who at unknown doors
Relies on his good luck,

Fire is needed by the newcomer
Whose knees are frozen numb;
Meat and clean linen a man needs
Who has fared across the fells,

Water, too, that he may wash before eating,
Handcloth's and a hearty welcome,
Courteous words, then courteous silence
That he may tell his tale,

Who travels widely needs his wits about him,
The stupid should stay at home:
The ignorant man is often laughed at
When he sits at meat with the sage,

Of his knowledge a man should never boast,
Rather be sparing of speech
When to his house a wiser comes:
Seldom do those who are silent Make mistakes;
mother wit Is ever a faithful friend,

A guest should be courteous
When he comes to the table
And sit in wary silence,
His ears attentive,
his eyes alert:
So he protects himself,

Fortunate is he who is favoured in his lifetime
With praise and words of wisdom:
Evil counsel is often given
By those of evil heart,

Blessed is he who in his own lifetime
Is awarded praise and wit,
For ill counsel is often given
By mortal men to each other,

Better gear than good sense
A traveller cannot carry,
Better than riches for a wretched man,
Far from his own home,

Better gear than good sense
A traveller cannot carry,
A more tedious burden than too much drink
A traveller cannot carry,

Less good than belief would have it
Is mead for the sons of men:
A man knows less the more he drinks,
Becomes a befuddled fool,

I-forget is the name men give the heron
Who hovers over the fast:
Fettered I was in his feathers that night,
When a guest in Gunnlod's court

Drunk I got, dead drunk,
When Fjalar the wise was with me:
Best is the banquet one looks back on after,
And remembers all that happened,

Silence becomes the Son of a prince,
To be silent but brave in battle:
It befits a man to be merry and glad
Until the day of his death,

The coward believes he will live forever
If he holds back in the battle,
But in old age he shall have no peace
Though spears have spared his limbs

When he meets friends, the fool gapes,
Is shy and sheepish at first,
Then he sips his mead and immediately
All know what an oaf he is,
He who has seen and suffered much,
And knows the ways of the world,
Who has travelled', can tell what spirit
Governs the men he meets,
Drink your mead, but in moderation,
Talk sense or be silent:
No man is called discourteous who goes
To bed at an early hour

A gluttonous man who guzzles away
Brings sorrow on himself:
At the table of the wise he is taunted often,
Mocked for his bloated belly,

The herd knows its homing time,
And leaves the grazing ground:
But the glutton never knows how much
His belly is able to hold,

An ill tempered, unhappy man
Ridicules all he hears,
Makes fun of others, refusing always
To see the faults in himself

Foolish is he who frets at night,
And lies awake to worry'
A weary man when morning comes,
He finds all as bad as before,

The fool thinks that those who laugh
At him are all his friends,
Unaware when he sits with wiser men
How ill they speak of him.

The fool thinks that those who laugh
At him are all his friends:
When he comes to the Thing and calls for support,
Few spokesmen he finds

The fool who fancies he is full of wisdom
While he sits by his hearth at home.
Quickly finds when questioned by others .
That he knows nothing at all.

The ignorant booby had best be silent
When he moves among other men,
No one will know what a nit-wit he is
Until he begins to talk;
No one knows less what a nit-wit he is
Than the man who talks too much.

To ask well, to answer rightly,
Are the marks of a wise man:
Men must speak of men's deeds,
What happens may not be hidden.

Wise is he not who is never silent,
Mouthing meaningless words:
A glib tongue that goes on chattering
Sings to its own harm.

A man among friends should not mock another:
Many believe the man
Who is not questioned to know much
And so he escapes their scorn.
An early meal a man should take
Before he visits friends,
Lest, when he gets there,
he go hungry,
Afraid to ask for food.

The fastest friends may fall out
When they sit at the banquet-board:
It is, and shall be, a shameful thing
When guest quarrels with guest,

The wise guest has his way of dealing
With those who taunt him at table:
He smiles through the meal,
not seeming to hear
The twaddle talked by his foes.

The tactful guest will take his leave Early,
not linger long:
He starts to stink who outstays his welcome
In a hall that is not his own.

A small hut of one' s own is better,
A man is his master at home:
A couple of goats and a corded roof
Still are better than begging.

A small hut of one's own is better,
A man is his master at home:
His heart bleeds in the beggar who must
Ask at each meal for meat.

A wayfarer should not walk unarmed,
But have his weapons to hand:
He knows not when he may need a spear,
Or what menace meet on the road.

No man is so generous he will jib at accepting
A gift in return for a gift,
No man so rich that it really gives him
Pain to be repaid.

Once he has won wealth enough,
A man should not crave for more:
What he saves for friends, foes may take;
Hopes are often liars.

With presents friends should please each other,
With a shield or a costly coat:
Mutual giving makes for friendship,
So long as life goes well,
A man should be loyal through life to friends,
To them and to friends of theirs,
But never shall a man make offer
Of friendship to his foes.

A man should be loyal through life to friends,
And return gift for gift,
Laugh when they laugh,
but with lies repay
A false foe who lies.

If you find a friend you fully trust
And wish for his good-will,
exchange thoughts,
exchange gifts,
Go often to his house.

If you deal with another you don't trust
But wish for his good-will,
Be fair in speech but false in thought
And give him lie for lie.

Even with one you ill-trust
And doubt what he means to do,
False words with fair smiles
May get you the gift you desire.

To a false friend the footpath winds
Though his house be on the highway.
To a sure friend there is a short cut,
Though he live a long way off.

Hotter than fire among false hearts burns
Friendship for five days,
But suddenly slackens when the sixth dawns:
Feeble their friendship then.

The generous and bold have the best lives,
Are seldom beset by cares, ,
But the base man sees bogies everywhere
And the miser pines for presents.

The young fir that falls and rots
Having neither needles nor bark,
So is the fate of the friendless man:
Why should he live long?

Little a sand-grain, little a dew drop,
Little the minds of men:
A11 men are not equal in wisdom,
The half-wise are everywhere

It is best for man to be middle-wise,
Not over cunning and clever:
The fairest life is led by those
Who are deft at all they do.
It is best for man to be middle-wise,
Not over cunning and clever:
No man is able to know his future,
So let him sleep in peace.

It is best for man to be middle-wise,
Not over cunning and clever:
The learned man whose lore is deep
Is seldom happy at heart.

Brand kindles brand till they burn out,
Flame is quickened by flame:
One man from another is known by his speech
The simpleton by his silence.
Early shall he rise who has designs
On anothers land or life:
His prey escapes the prone wolf,
The sleeper is seldom victorious.

Early shall he rise who rules few servants,
And set to work at once:
Much is lost by the late sleeper,
Wealth is won by the swift,

A man should know how many logs
And strips of bark from the birch
To stock in autumn, that he may have enough
Wood for his winter fires.



Washed and fed,
one may fare to the Thing:
Though one's clothes be the worse for Wear,
None need be ashamed of his shoes or hose,
Nor of the horse he owns,
Although no thoroughbred.



As the eagle who comes to the ocean shore,
Sniffs and hangs her head,
Dumfounded is he who finds at the Thing
No supporters to plead his case.

It is safe to tell a secret to one,
Risky to tell it to two,
To tell it to three is thoughtless folly,
Everyone else will know.

Often words uttered to another
Have reaped an ill harvest:
Two beat one, the tongue is head's bane,
Pockets of fur hide fists.

Moderate at council should a man be,
Not brutal and over bearing:
Among the bold the bully will find
Others as bold as he.

These things are thought the best:
Fire, the sight of the sun,
Good health with the gift to keep it,
And a life that avoids vice.

Not all sick men are utterly wretched:
Some are blessed with sons,
Some with friends,
some with riches,
Some with worthy works.

The halt can manage a horse,
the handless a flock,
The deaf be a doughty fighter,
To be blind is better than to burn on a pyre:
There is nothing the dead can do.

It is always better to be alive,
The living can keep a cow.
Fire, I saw, warming a wealthy man,
With a cold corpse at his door.

A son is a blessing, though born late
To a father no longer alive:
Stones would seldom stand by the highway
If sons did not set them there.

He welcomes the night who has enough provisions
Short are the sails of a ship,
Dangerous the dark in autumn,
The wind may veer within five days,
And many times in a month.

The half wit does not know that gold
Makes apes of many men:
One is rich, one is poor
There is no blame in that.

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies
Of one who has done well

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But I know one thing that never dies,
The glory of the great dead

Fields and flocks had Fitjung's sons,
Who now carry begging bowls:
Wealth may vanish in the wink of an eye,
Gold is the falsest of friends.

In the fool who acquires cattle and lands,
Or wins a woman's love,
His wisdom wanes with his waxing pride,
He sinks from sense to conceit.

Now is answered what you ask of the runes,
Graven by the gods,
Made by the All Father,
Sent by the powerful sage:
lt. is best for man to remain silent.

For these things give thanks at nightfall:
The day gone, a guttered torch,
A sword tested, the troth of a maid,
Ice crossed, ale drunk.

Hew wood in wind-time,
in fine weather sail,
Tell in the night-time tales to house-girls,
For too many eyes are open by day:
From a ship expect speed, from a shield, cover,
Keenness from a sword,
but a kiss from a girl.

Drink ale by the hearth, over ice glide,
Buy a stained sword, buy a starving mare
To fatten at home: and fatten the watch-dog.

Trust not an acre early sown,
Nor praise a son too soon:
Weather rules the acre, wit the son,
Both are exposed to peril,

A snapping bow, a burning flame,
A grinning wolf, a grunting boar,
A raucous crow, a rootless tree,
A breaking wave, a boiling kettle,
A flying arrow, an ebbing tide,
A coiled adder, the ice of a night,
A bride's bed talk, a broad sword,
A bear's play, a prince' s children,
A witch' s welcome, the wit of a slave,
A sick calf, a corpse still fresh,
A brother's killer encountered upon
The highway a house half-burned,
A racing stallion who has wrenched a leg,
Are never safe: let no man trust them.

No man should trust a maiden's words,
Nor what a woman speaks:
Spun on a wheel were women's hearts,
In their breasts was implanted caprice,

To love a woman whose ways are false
Is like sledding over slippery ice
With unshod horses out of control,
Badly trained two-year-olds,
Or drifting rudderless on a rough sea,
Or catching a reindeer with a crippled hand
On a thawing hillside: think not to do it.

Naked I may speak now for I know both:
Men are treacherous too
Fairest we speak when falsest we think:
many a maid is deceived.

Gallantly shall he speak and gifts bring
Who wishes for woman's love:
praise the features of the fair girl,
Who courts well will conquer.

Never reproach another for his love:
It happens often enough
That beauty ensnares with desire the wise
While the foolish remain unmoved.

Never reproach the plight of another,
For it happens to many men:
Strong desire may stupefy heroes,
Dull the wits of the wise

The mind alone knows what is near the heart,
Each is his own judge:
The worst sickness for a wise man
Is to crave what he cannot enjoy.

So I learned when I sat in the reeds,
Hoping to have my desire:
Lovely was the flesh of that fair girl,
But nothing I hoped for happened.

I saw on a bed Billing's daughter,
Sun white, asleep:
No greater delight I longed for then
Than to lie in her lovely arms.

"Come" Odhinn, after nightfall
If you wish for a meeting with me:
All would be lost if anyone saw us
And learned that we were lovers."

Afire with longing" I left her then,
Deceived by her soft words:
I thought my wooing had won the maid,
That I would have my way.

After nightfall I hurried back,
But the warriors were all awake,
Lights were burning, blazing torches:
So false proved the path

Towards daybreak back I came
The guards were sound asleep:
I found then that the fair woman
Had tied a bitch to her bed.

Many a girl when one gets to know her
Proves to be fickle and false:
That treacherous maiden taught me a lesson,
The crafty woman covered me with shame"
That was all I got from her.

Let a man with his guests be glad and merry,
Modest a man should be"
But talk well if he intends to be wise
And expects praise from men:
Fimbul fambi is the fool called "
Unable to open his mouth.
Fruitless my errand, had I been silent
When I came to Suttung's courts:
With spirited words I spoke to my profit
In the hall of the aged giant.

Rati had gnawed a narrow passage,
Chewed a channel through stone,
A path around the roads of giants:
I was like to lose my head

Gunnlod sat me in the golden seat,
Poured me precious mead:
Ill reward she had from me for that,
For her proud and passionate heart,
Her brooding foreboding spirit.

What I won from her I have well used:
I have waxed in wisdom since I came back,
bringing to Asgard Odrerir,
the sacred draught.

Hardly would I have come home alive
From the garth of the grim troll,
Had Gunnlod not helped me, the good woman,
Who wrapped her arms around me.

The following day the Frost Giants came,
Walked into Har's hall To ask for Har's advice:
Had Bolverk they asked, come back to his friends,
Or had he been slain by Suttung?

Odhinn, they said, swore an oath on his ring:
Who from now on will trust him?
By fraud at the feast he befuddled Suttung
And brought grief to Gunnlod.

It is time to sing in the seat of the wise,
Of what at Urd's Well I saw in silence,
saw and thought on.
Long I listened to men
Runes heard spoken, (counsels revealed.)
At Har's hall, In Har's hall:
There I heard this.

Loddfafnir, listen to my counsel:
You will fare well if you follow it,
It will help you much if you heed it.

Never rise at night unless you need to spy
Or to ease yourself in the outhouse.

Shun a woman, wise in magic,
Her bed and her embraces:
If she cast a spell, you will care no longer
To meet and speak with men,
Desire no food, desire no pleasure,
In sorrow fall asleep.

Never seduce anothers wife,
Never make her your mistress.

If you must journey to mountains and firths,
Take food and fodder with you.

Never open your heart to an evil man
When fortune does not favour you:
From an evil man, if you make him your friend,
You will get evil for good.

I saw a warrior wounded fatally
By the words of an evil woman
Her cunning tongue caused his death,
Though what she alleged was a lie.

If you know a friend you can fully trust,
Go often to his house
Grass and brambles grow quickly
Upon the untrodden track.

With a good man it is good to talk,
Make him your fast friend:
But waste no words on a witless oaf,
Nor sit with a senseless ape.

Cherish those near you, never be
The first to break with a friend:
Care eats him who can no longer
Open his heart to another.

An evil man, if you make him your friend,
Will give you evil for good:
A good man, if you make him your friend"
Will praise you in every place,

Affection is mutual when men can open
All their heart to each other:
He whose words are always fair
Is untrue and not to be trusted.

Bandy no speech with a bad man:
Often the better is beaten
In a word fight by the worse.

Be not a cobbler nor a carver of shafts,
Except it be for yourself:
If a shoe fit ill or a shaft be crooked"
The maker gets curses and kicks.

If aware that another is wicked, say so:
Make no truce or treaty with foes.

Never share in the shamefully gotten,
But allow yourself what is lawful.

Never lift your eyes and look up in battle,
Lest the heroes enchant you,
who can change warriors
Suddenly into hogs,
With a good woman, if you wish to enjoy
Her words and her good will,
Pledge her fairly and be faithful to it:
Enjoy the good you are given,

Be not over wary, but wary enough,
First, of the foaming ale,
Second, of a woman wed to another,
Third, of the tricks of thieves.

Mock not the traveller met On the road,
Nor maliciously laugh at the guest:
Scoff not at guests nor to the gate chase them,
But relieve the lonely and wretched,

The sitters in the hall seldom know
The kin of the new-comer:
The best man is marred by faults,
The worst is not without worth.

Never laugh at the old when they offer counsel,
Often their words are wise:
From shrivelled skin, from scraggy things
That hand among the hides
And move amid the guts,
Clear words often come.

Heavy the beam above the door;
Hang a horse-shoe On it
Against ill-luck, lest it should suddenly
Crash and crush your guests.

Medicines exist against many evils:
Earth against drunkenness, heather against worms
Oak against costiveness, corn against sorcery,
Spurred rye against rupture, runes against bales
The moon against feuds, fire against sickness,
Earth makes harmless the floods.

Wounded I hung on a wind-swept gallows
For nine long nights,
Pierced by a spear, pledged to Odhinn,
Offered, myself to myself
The wisest know not from whence spring
The roots of that ancient rood

They gave me no bread,
They gave me no mead,
I looked down;
with a loud cry
I took up runes;
from that tree I fell.

Nine lays of power
I learned from the famous Bolthor, Bestla' s father:
He poured me a draught of precious mead,
Mixed with magic Odrerir.

Waxed and throve well;
Word from word gave words to me,
Deed from deed gave deeds to me,

Runes you will find, and readable staves,
Very strong staves,
Very stout staves,
Staves that Bolthor stained,
Made by mighty powers,
Graven by the prophetic god,

For the gods by Odhinn, for the elves by Dain,
By Dvalin, too, for the dwarves,
By Asvid for the hateful giants,
And some I carved myself:
Thund, before man was made, scratched them,
Who rose first, fell thereafter

Know how to cut them, know how to read them,
Know how to stain them, know how to prove them,
Know how to evoke them, know how to score them,
Know how to send them" know how to send them,

Better not to ask than to over-pledge
As a gift that demands a gift"
Better not to send than to slay too many,

The first charm I know is unknown to rulers
Or any of human kind;
Help it is named,
for help it can give In hours of sorrow and anguish.

I know a second that the sons of men
Must learn who wish to be leeches.

I know a third: in the thick of battle,
If my need be great enough,
It will blunt the edges of enemy swords,
Their weapons will make no wounds.

I know a fourth:
it will free me quickly
If foes should bind me fast
With strong chains, a chant that makes Fetters spring from the feet,
Bonds burst from the hands.

I know a fifth: no flying arrow,
Aimed to bring harm to men,
Flies too fast for my fingers to catch it
And hold it in mid-air.

I know a sixth:
it will save me if a man
Cut runes on a sapling' s Roots
With intent to harm; it turns the spell;
The hater is harmed, not me.

If I see the hall
Ablaze around my bench mates,
Though hot the flames, they shall feel nothing,
If I choose to chant the spell.

I know an eighth:
that all are glad of,
Most useful to men:
If hate fester in the heart of a warrior,
It will soon calm and cure him.

I know a ninth:
when need I have
To shelter my ship on the flood,
The wind it calms, the waves it smoothes
And puts the sea to sleep,

I know a tenth:
if troublesome ghosts
Ride the rafters aloft,
I can work it so they wander astray,
Unable to find their forms,
Unable to find their homes.

I know an eleventh:
when I lead to battle Old comrades in-arms,
I have only to chant it behind my shield,
And unwounded they go to war,
Unwounded they come from war,
U unscathed wherever they are.

I know a twelfth:
If a tree bear
A man hanged in a halter,
I can carve and stain strong runes
That will cause the corpse to speak,
Reply to whatever I ask.

I know a thirteenth
if I throw a cup Of water over a warrior,
He shall not fall in the fiercest battle,
Nor sink beneath the sword,

I know a fourteenth, that few know:
If I tell a troop of warriors
About the high ones, elves and gods,
I can name them one by one.
(Few can the nit-wit name.)

I know a fifteenth,
that first Thjodrerir
Sang before Delling's doors,
Giving power to gods, prowess to elves,
Fore-sight to Hroptatyr Odhinn,

I know a sixteenth:
if I see a girl
With whom it would please me to play,
I can turn her thoughts, can touch the heart
Of any white armed woman.

I know a seventeenth:
if I sing it,
the young Girl will be slow to forsake me.

I know an eighteenth that I never tell
To maiden or wife of man,
A secret I hide from all
Except the love who lies in my arms,
Or else my own sister.

To learn to sing them, Loddfafnir,
Will take you a long time,
Though helpful they are if you understand them,
Useful if you use them,
Needful if you need them.

The Wise One has spoken words in the hall,
Needful for men to know,
Unneedful for trolls to know:






Hail to the speaker,
Hail to the knower,
Joy to him who has understood,
Delight to those who have listened.
The Big Serpent,
photos:stig bachmann nielsen, Naturplan foto


(W. H .Auden & P. B. Taylor Translation )

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Arthur Rimbaud



 Ophelia

 













On the calm black water where the stars are sleeping
White Ophelia floats like a great lily;
Floats very slowly, lying in her long veils...
- In the far-off woods you can hear them sound the mort.

For more than a thousand years sad Ophelia
Has passed, a white phantom, down the long black river.
For more than a thousand years her sweet madness
Has murmured its ballad to the evening breeze.

The wind kisses her breasts and unfolds in a wreath
Her great veils rising and falling with the waters;
The shivering willows weep on her shoulder,
The rushes lean over her wide, dreaming brow.

The ruffled water-lilies are sighing around her;
At times she rouses, in a slumbering alder,
Some nest from which escapes a small rustle of wings;
- A mysterious anthem falls from the golden stars.

O pale Ophelia! beautiful as snow!
Yes child, you died, carried off by a river!
- It was the winds descending from the great mountains of Norway
That spoke to you in low voices of better freedom.

It was a breath of wind, that, twisting your great hair,
Brought strange rumors to your dreaming mind;
It was your heart listening to the song of Nature
In the groans of the tree and the sighs of the nights;

It was the voice of mad seas, the great roar,
That shattered your child's heart, too human and too soft;
It was a handsome pale knight, a poor madman
Who one April morning sate mute at your knees!

Heaven! Love! Freedom! What a dream, oh poor crazed Girl!
You melted to him as snow does to a fire;
Your great visions strangled your words
- And fearful Infinity terrified your blue eye!

- And the poet says that by starlight
You come seeking, in the night, the flowers that you picked
And that he has seen on the water, lying in her long veils
White Ophelia floating, like a great lily.

Arthur Rimbaud
1854-1891

 









photo: grethe bachmann

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tove Ditlevsen
















Barndommens Gade

Jeg er din barndoms gade
jeg er dit væsens rod
jeg er den bankende rytme
i alt hvad du længes mod.

Jeg er din mors grå hænder
og din fars bekymrede sind
jeg er de tidligste drømmes
lette, tågede spind.

Jeg gav dig min store alvor
en dag du var vildt forladt,
jeg dryssed' lidt vemod i sindet
en drivende regnvejrsnat.

Jeg slog dig engang til jorden
for at gøre dit hjerte hårdt,
men jeg rejste dig varligt op igen
og tørrede tårerne bort.

Det er mig der har lært dig at hade
jeg lærte dig hårdhed og spot.
Jeg gav dig de stærkeste våben
du skal vide at bruge dem godt

Jeg gav dig de vagtsomme øjne
på dem skal du kendes igen,
og møder du en med det samme blik
skal du vide han er din ven.

Fløj du så vidt over lande
voksede du fra din ven?
Jeg er din barndoms gade
jeg kender dig altid igen.

Fra digtsamlingen Lille Verden 1942.
Tove Ditlevsen (1917-1976)

foto: gb

Sunday, July 31, 2011

City That Does Not Sleep

Federico García Lorca is possibly the most important Spanish poet and dramatist of the twentieth century.

García Lorca's stay in America, particularly New York -- his first adult experience of a democratic society, albeit one he considered to be dominated by rampant commercialism and the casual social oppression of minority groups -- acted as a catalyst for some of his most daring work. His collection of poems, Poeta en Nueva York, explores his alienation and isolation through some graphically experimental poetic techniques, and the two plays Así que pasen cinco años and El público were far ahead of their time -- indeed, El público was not published until the late 1970s.

 
City That Does Not Sleep by Federico Garcia Lorca
In the sky there is nobody asleep. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the street corner
the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the
stars.

Nobody is asleep on earth. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of a dry countryside on his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.

Life is not a dream. Careful! Careful! Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead
dahlias.
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
flesh exists. Kisses tie our mouths
in a thicket of new veins,
and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever
and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.

One day
the horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the
eyes of cows.

Another day
we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats
we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.
Careful! Be careful! Be careful!
The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention of the bridge,
or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes are waiting,
where the bear's teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.

Nobody is sleeping in the sky. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is sleeping.
If someone does close his eyes,
a whip, boys, a whip!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
No one is sleeping in this world. No one, no one.
I have said it before.

No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the night,
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.

Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe


The Lake
In spring of youth it was my lot
To haunt of the wide world a spot
The which I could not love the less-
So lovely was the loneliness
Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,
And the tall pines that towered around.

But when the Night had thrown her pall
Upon that spot, as upon all,
And the mystic wind went by
Murmuring in melody-
Then- ah then I would awake
To the terror of the lone lake.

Yet that terror was not fright,
But a tremulous delight-
A feeling not the jewelled mine
Could teach or bribe me to define-
Nor Love- although the Love were thine.

Death was in that poisonous wave,
And in its gulf a fitting grave
For him who thence could solace bring
To his lone imagining-
Whose solitary soul could make
An Eden of that dim lake. 
 Edgar Allan Poe, (1809-1849)

photo Silkeborg 2007: grethe bachmann

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cat's Dream















How neatly a cat sleeps,
Sleeps with its paws and its posture,
Sleeps with its wicked claws,
And with its unfeeling blood,
Sleeps with ALL the rings a series
Of burnt circles which have formed
The odd geology of its sand-colored tail.

I should like to sleep like a cat,
With all the fur of time,
With a tongue rough as flint,
With the dry sex of fire and
After speaking to no one,
Stretch myself over the world,
Over roofs and landscapes,
With a passionate desire
To hunt the rats in my dreams.

I have seen how the cat asleep
Would undulate, how the night flowed
Through it like dark water and at times,
It was going to fall or possibly
Plunge into the bare deserted snowdrifts.

Sometimes it grew so much in sleep
Like a tiger's great-grandfather,
And would leap in the darkness over
Rooftops, clouds and volcanoes.

Sleep, sleep cat of the night with
Episcopal ceremony and your stone-carved moustache.
Take care of all our dreams
Control the obscurity
Of our slumbering prowess
With your relentless HEART
And the great ruff of your tail.


Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

photo: grethe bachmann