Poem of the Week: Marie Takvam – Baptism beneath seven stars


I want to put on the white dress
tonight when the rushes are black shadows,
black shadows along the water.

Seven stars are lit as altar candles.
They shine over the waves in the big moment.

One candle for each of the seven sins.
The first shall be lit for acedia.

When the moment comes, I’ll step out through the rushes
to where the waves roll freely
and the candle is set alight for superbia.

My breast shall kiss the water
through the white silk
when I sight the rays of invidia.

The waves shall billow around my hair
and over my eyes
under the star for ira.

I glimpse three other lights
through the waves
when I look up from the deep.

They look down on me
and the wonder happens
that I become one with the water.

One with the water, and parted from the earth.
Naked beneath
the white silk.

Through the water, and over the earth
the starlight is shining



Eg vil ta på meg den kvite kjolen
i kveld når sivet er svarte skuggar,
svarte skuggar langs vatnet.

Sju stjerner kveikjest til altarlys.
Dei skin over bylgjene den store stunda.

Eitt lys for kvar av dei sju synder.
Det første skal kveikjast for acedia.

Når stunda kjem, stig eg ut gjennom sivet
dit bylgjene går fritt
og lyset tendrast for superbia.

Bringa mi skal kysse vatnet
gjennom den kvite silken
når eg timjar strålane for invidia.

Bylgjene skal vogge kring håret mitt
og over augo mine
under stjerna for ira.

Eg skimtar tre andre lys
gjennom bylgja
når eg ser opp or djupet.

Dei ser ned til meg
og underet skjer
at eg vert eitt med vatnet.

Eitt med vatnet, og skild frå jorda.
Eit nake menneske under
den kvite silken.

Gjennom vatnet, og over jorda
strålar stjernelyset

Translated by May-Brit Akerholt.

From Marie Takvam (1926–2008), Dikt i samling, Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, 1997. Originally published in Dåp under sju stjerner, Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, 1952.

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.