Wednesday, March 29, 2017

the rainbow




*

THE TIGHTROPE WALKER



Forward and back
and around and back
on a piece of string
above water.
Rainbow
every time
she falls in.
Then repeat.
She recalls her history
the tightrope-walker's curse
always to start over
and always dare again
to fall
again
dares to fall
then repeat
Never forgets the fall
the tightrope-walker's duty is
to never stop getting up
again on the tightrope
to walk back and again
forward again
dares to fall
again
dares to get up

The tightrope-walker trains,
she plays music
on her stereo
one pace
and one foot
at a time.
On the album sleeve
Glenn Gould
playing the
piano


*



LINDANSÖSEN



Fram och så tillbaka
så tillbaks och åter
på en sytråd
ovanför ett vatten.
Regnbåge
varenda gång
hon faller.
Sedan repetera.
Minnas sin historia
lindansösens plåga
alltid börja om
och alltid åter våga
falla
åter
våga falla
sedan repetera
Aldrig glömma fallet
lindansösens plikt är
aldrig sluta stiga
åter upp på linan
gå tillbaks och åter
framåt åter
våga falla
åter
våga stiga

Lindansösen tränar,
hon spelar
på stereo
en takt
och en fot
i taget.
På skivomslaget
Glenn Gould
när han spelar
piano



*


I've just found out that Bodil Malmsten died of cancer, just over a year ago, in February 2016.  She was 71.

I felt more shocked than I usually do when poets die. Somehow I always thought of her, and I still do, as a young contemporary, an energetic and disruptive and likeable and reliable presence.

An everyday author. No-one ever said she ought to get the Nobel Prize. She wrote thirty books, of which the best-known were about her life in Finistère. I imagine she's not much known outside the Nordic-Baltic world. I try to read her tousled informal poems in Swedish.  The prose is easier. In my family we always go back to Mitt första liv, especially the chapters about her childhood in Jämtland.

"The Tightrope Walker" comes from her first poetry collection, Gustav the Dwarf (1977). The poems in this collection are linked and they generally have a circus kind of setting.

What is an everyday author? One we have grown up with and lived alongside. Someone who reminds us who we are, and who comforts us by saying: Look, our generation didn't know it all, we got a lot of things wrong, but at least we were this good...

I expect I'll be attempting some more Malmsten translations in coming weeks.

Announcement in Svenska Dagbladet, 6th February 2016:












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