Poem of the Week: Window in February – Emil Boysen

WINDOW IN FEBRUARY

As behind the pale onset of a thought
after a long heavy night, emerge far off,
beyond opaque ice on my morning window
naked against the naked sky, five black trunks:
the wakening glance’s assurance of real trees.

You summon me so early, stern light?
You thrust your way in with spectral hands,
And, look! the white wall my window panes’ frost
night-patiently built around my sleep
you break down and turn my face towards the day –
though all buds slumber deep in snow,
the badger in his sett, where no dream
yet has grunted of spring in his rusty heart!

And lo! Alone, as all of humankind,
with hopeful doubt, with quavering faith, I must again
get ready for the coming of your Wonder, Nature!
Thus ever sundered from the seedcorn’s docile trust,
restlessly seeking omens and answers,
painfully veering ’twixt expectation and fear
mankind revolves in life’s cyclical frame.
And I, who can recall the meaning of signs,
will ceremoniously meet my demanding guest
whose clang a ghostly knuckle has rapped on my pane.
I rise, dumbly, in a vague dumbness of memories
(for, alack, how many times has the year turned
since first on the threshold of youth,
I welcomed the return of light!)
and not without yearning, no, rather with greater
though milder yearning, yet more sparing of hope
I step towards the window, calm as before a judge.

And through the shattered film of sleep on the window’s eye
I gaze out, and wonder, whether in my soul
maybe yet once again a fleeting seed,
cast by Fortune’s hand, has overwintered
biding its time, that sacred time of trial,
lying out there with shrouded spring
where my gaze bores down and nothing finds
in the garden’s frost-black emptiness, ravaged by light,
while the first cry of the coal tit echoes in the waste unheard.

 

VINDU I FEBRUAR

Som bakom den bleke demring av en tanke
efter en tung lang natt, tegner sig fjernt,
hinsides halvklar is på mitt morgenvindu,
nakne mot naken himmel fem sorte stammer:
det våknende blikks forvissning om virkelige trær.

Så tidlig kaller du mig, du strenge lys?
Du baner dig vei hit inn med ånde-hænder,
og, se! den hvite mur mine ruters kulde
natte-tålmodig bygget omkring min søvn,
bryter du ned og snur mitt ansikt mot dagen –
skjønt alle spirer slumrer dypt under sne,
og grevlingen i sin hule, og ingen drøm
ennu har knurret om vår i hans rustne hjerte!

Velan! Alene, som alle av menneske-ætt,
med håpende tvil, med nølende tro, må jeg atter
berede mig selv for ditt Unders komme, Natur!
Ti evig skilt fra så-kornets lydige tillit,
i rastløs higen efter varsler og løsen,
og skiftende smertefullt mellem forventning og frykt
lever mennesket med i tingenes kretsløp.
Og jeg, som minnes hvad tegnene betyr,
vil høvisk møte den fordringsfulle gjest
hvis klingre gjenfærds-kno har banket på ruten.
Jeg reiser mig, stumt, i en vâg stumhet av minner
(for, akk, hvor mange ganger har året snudd
siden jeg første gang, ved ungdommens terskel,
hilste velkommen lysets tilbakekomst!)
og ikke uten lengsel, nei kanskje med større
skjønt stillere lengsel, men mere nøisom på håp
trer jeg mot vinduet, rolig som foran en dommer.

Og gjennem det brustne søvn-slør på rutens pupille
stirrer jeg ut, og undres, om i mitt sind
kanhende enda en gang et flyktig frø,
slynget av lykkens hånd, har overvintret
og bier sin tid, den hellige prøves tid,
sammen med våren som ligger i svøp der-ute
hvor blikket borer sig ned og intet finner
i havens frost-svarte tomhet, herjet av lys,
mens kullmeisens første rop hen-klinger i ødet uhørt.

Translated by Annabelle Despard.

From Emil Boyson (1897–1979), Utvalgte dikt, Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, Oslo 1959.

Poem of the Week. 52 poems throughout the year

Take part in a weekly journey through 52 poems by authors from Norway throughout 2019 – Norway’s year as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

From the time when the earliest texts were recorded in runic inscriptions, poetry has had a strong position in Norway. By introducing a new poem each week throughout 2019, we aim to highlight the quality and breadth of Norwegian poetry. «Poem of the Week» presents 52 poems, inspired by the changing seasons and the passing of the year. The selection has been made by Tone Carlsen and Annette Vonberg, and consists of poems from the earliest handwritten manuscripts up until today, with a special emphasis on contemporary poetry.

You can find all poems in this series here. Read more about Norway as Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair here.

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