Poem of the Week: Nocturne, Carl Keilhau


The very first dusk in the air

is blue as ice and transparently clear.

No frost mist rises from the crust of snow,

but all is quiet, January all

and above the plain the moon’s sickle

cuts its thin slice of leaden white in the blue,

elusive dusk. Without sound

and without scent this winter landscape lies,

it is as if this wide plain always lay

like this, hiding who we were.

Yet though our fear is locked in silence

it still remains, beyond the clear

a nameless vision we cannot comprehend.


Den aller første skumringen i luften

er blå som is og gjennomsiktig klar.

Det stiger ingen røyk fra skaresnøen,

men alt er stillhet, alt er januar

og over sletten skjærer månesigden

sitt tynne snitt av blyhvitt i den blå,

ugripelige skumring. Uten lyd

og uten duft er dette vinterlandskap,

det er som om den store sletten lå

bestandig slik og gjemte den vi var.

Men om vår angst blir lukket inn i taushet

forblir det enda, bakenfor det klare

et navnløst syn vi ikke kan forstå.

From Carl Keilhau (1919–1957), Nocturne, H. Aschehoug & Co, Oslo 1955. Translated by Annabelle Despard.

Poem of the Week. 52 poems through the year

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

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.