Poem of the Week: Tarjei Vesaas – A freed channel


A freed channel
opened out in the frozen heart.
The ice melted at a warm word
and the water lay still and black
with new breath.

Overhead the wires sang
in a daring tension
between unlike minds,
a wide arc
in the pale blue.

All sorts of cold fish
darted to and fro
and stared.
But the still black water waited
and the first boat also appeared
as if from itself,
its painting peeling from the sides
after the winter,
and the water and the boat spoke quietly
about life’s blissful moments.



Ei frigjerande råk
gjekk opp i det frosne hjarta.
Isen bråna for eit godt ord
og vatnet låg stilt og svart
med nye andedrag.

Over song det i trådane
frå vågsame spenn
mellom ulike sinn.
Ein lang boge
i det lette blå.

Alle slags kalde fiskar
vimsa fram og attende
og glodde.
Men det stille svarte vatnet venta
med utolmod,
og den første båten kom også utpå
som av seg sjølv
med målinga avflakna på sidene
etter vinters tid,
og vatnet og båten tala lågt
om livsens sæle stunder.

Translated by Anthony Barnett.

From Tarjei Vesaas (1897–1970), Lykka for ferdesmenn, Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, Oslo 1949. The English translation comes from from Tarjei Vesaas, Beyond the Moment: One Hundred and One Selected Poems, Allardyce, Barnett, Publishers, 2001

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.