Tuesday, July 31, 2018

some poems from Karin Boye's Hearths (1927)

[Image source: http://kulturellaspar.se/litteratur/karin-boye .  I think the photo is by the celebrated Anna Riwkin and dates from 1933, but I haven't been able to confirm it.]

From Hearths (1927)






The Two Lineages



This song is for the children of wrath

on the thistle-heath, the heathen;

those that the angel with the flaming sword

expelled from a lost Eden.

Thistledown, thistledown,

across the ground is windblown,

having no means to root or grow

within that closed-up garden.



Yet the myths say that the sons of God

thought the earth then so gorgeous,

on the dawn hills, in the gold lustre

of those days in the first ages,

that they met with the daughters of men

under moon-billowing darkness,

and seeded children with aether-seed;

with the trace of heavenly harmonies.

To meet their descendants is amazing;

their hands are profuse with joys.

Yes, I've met some passing among the thistles,

who have passed along sacred shores... –

Yet nights of sleepless grieving,

these too amount to something;

and any who has known what anguish is

knows more than most who study.



I have seen them passing among the thistles;

free, light, transparent –

and I quivered with worship, with longing

for a glance, or just a movement.

But tell me: – Who has touched our race’s root,

those souls of glimmering streams,

or you – with your eyes that are full of night,

your mouth red with bloody dreams?





Keep Moving



The day of satisfaction is not best.

The better day — that is a day of thirst.


Though there’s a goal, a reason for our journey,

really the road itself is why it’s worth it.


The best goal is to make camp overnight,

with the fire lit, and something quick to eat.


In places where you only stay the once,

your sleep is sound, your dream is just a song.


Break up, depart! The new day dawns pale.

Our life's adventure is perpetual.






The Falling Morning Star



“Fall,” said the Lord then, “fall,

obstinate morning star! Yes,

gladly I give you darkness,

you that are dearest to me of all.”


“Fall,” said the Lord then, “fall,

fire of blazing turquoise!

Gleam in the deep’s long tortures,

raise your citadel’s coal-black wall!”


“Fall,” said the Lord then, “fall!

You that would taste all evil.

Will you come back, as usual?

You that are nearest to me of all.”





Lilith’s Song



Rainclouds hanging heavy

swell in the tender darkness where they’re stored,

night-blueish grapevine clusters

heavy with wine, that hushed over earth is poured,

heavy with deep-born wine,

heavy with secret force,

wrested from sea and heavens

and bitter dew in the utterest dark’s expanse.


Living’s heady vapour

cools into droplets, falls through the dead-still night.

Drink deeply! you will maybe

grasp the key, where no-one has set her foot...

land where the spirit, loosed

out beyond time’s frontiers

tastes in eternal spaces

things that no-one thinks of or sees or knows.


Under waking country

seethe unearthly seas of joy and woe,

world-deep smithy-forges

from which comes (like a wave-spat) all we see.

Dare you attempt the road

that opens in fear's carouse?

Fear-stricken, yet favoured,

you come to the eternal Mothers’ sombre house . . .


Flakes on widest waters,

Oh deep-born flower who never knew her root,

mayfly averse to nightfall –

comes the time you’ll enter the Mothers’ night!

Dying is black with pain.

Dying is white with bliss.

Plunged in its murmuring waves you

cease to think of life’s pale, clouded coast.



[Translations by me.]

[Image source: http://www.goteborgkonst.com/?post_type=konstverk&p=1503 . Detail of a sculpture of Karin Boye by Peter Linde in Kungsportavynen, Göteborg (the city of her birth).]

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