Poem of the Week: Paal-Helge Haugen – Clearing up


after so many years
this evening opens up:
a shaft downward and
leading back, the light flooding in
where we didn’t believe
it could go

trees move slowly, the evening
rippled by a wind of time
that carries off the weathered remnants
of hatred, confusion
slag, fragments of words with jagged
edges, blindfolds, the sound of
doors that keep slamming

what remains is the outlines –
of precise caresses and wide-open
mornings, lit up from below
and with backs to the darkness, a strong
resolve to understand
what must be understood
the wind moves off, it’s clearing up

I touch you
with a measured hand



etter så mange år
opnar denne kvelden seg:
ei sjakt nedover
og tilbake, lyset fløymer
inn der vi ikkje trudde
det fanst

tre rører seg sakte, kvelden
krusa av ein vind av tid
som fører bort restane av forvitra
hat, forvirring
slagg, brokkar av ord med opprivne
kantar, bind for augo, lyden av
dører som slår og slår

tilbake blir konturane
av presise kjærteikn og vidopne
morgonar, gjennomlyste nedanfrå
og med ryggen mot mørkret, ein hard samla
vilje til å forstå
det som må bli forstått
vinden dreg forbi, det klarnar opp

eg rører deg
med ei begrensa hand

From Paal-Helge Haugen (1945), Det overvintra lyset, Det Norske Samlaget, Oslo 1985. The english translation comes from Paal-Helge Haugen, Wintering with the Light, Sun & Moon Press, Los Angeles 1997.

Translated by Roger Greenwald.

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.