Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Erik Lindegren: 'mannen utan väg' - last ten sonnets


but when daybreak comes the city changes completely
the endless jubilation of saboteurs rings in the celebration’s ears

parks and streets and houses stray drunkenly past
and chat about cheerful memories of the bygone plague

views landscapes people shouts trumpets
and crown all that is dead to the charlatan himself:

my eye deceived us it sought only the bottom
the wall so it could appear as conqueror

that sacrificed lives my solitary life in a gravel pit
and blood and meaning seep down into the earth

I compared myself with us and nothing tallied
I killed you and me so that we both should live

with human lips heavy with death we were forced
into this smile of self-satisfied idiocy


oh wished-for cramp with swing music and plundering hands
and love breast to breast and the ether mask’s hiss

you rival of invalids the dance of death’s small revelry
with horrors in advance and simplification’s bandage

you trampler of fabrics with hymns of high heels
and nothing that manages to gain meaning or conclusion

your surprise only gives us the same familiar
spirit of homelessness that visits our magnet

and seduction gives death and space a moonlight solo
blue mantles of crystal that maybe provide coolness

to the leaves’ green meshes where the caught eye stares
at the fall of the scales of flesh from the clay of empty hands

when naked to the waist we trespass
in the river of death and the packed halls of pain


the invisible one within us tears apart all space
and all race-tracks become part of the measurable nothing

and the seconds turn to stone and the perspectives run
into the suns of cruelty with the shadows’ thirsting dwarfs

that cut into their leather flesh to give their skeletons air
and surrender the event to breaking-point’s rollers

until the vision invokes the darkness of the jagged peaks
from the armchair of eternal rest: a denying continent

that on a shield of sun and madness raises its reflection
in an advantageous moment for our eternal blindness

that rocks the parasite of sinking down on the barrel-organ’s waves
and writes in mockery on the jealous rock of the future:

embalm the galley slave’s worn-out oars in the hall of amazement
embalm the sublimation and the tragedian in slow-motion


among the corals’ stiff mouth and whole-hearted dissension
among the murderers’ breathing that shrouds everything in mist

among the lies that pierce through the eye of truth
till it stares more stiffly than that of the one lashed to death

among the moments that glide along the tracks of torture
and disappear with a jerk into the hollow passage of the unreal

oh silence of black tears in poisoned prison towers
with the nightmare’s smelting furnace for captives’ magma-torment

oh blown-off hand and the parched recitative of death
in a golden coffer for withered leaves and revolutions

oh confused voice from the string of the broken bow
do not flee with your echo into the protected nook of the future

but decipher instead the illegible writing: capture the swishing
fall of the hammer towards a fate that as yet was not yours


after wandering through death’s tunnels it was time
for hope to drive us to a new despair

we felt how we moved in a machine’s greasy air
in a despised acrobat and the eternally human

inside the navel there gleamed a chromium-plated tragedy
and an onlooker rocked in the false rope of the curtain

a prompter stood bending over the old chasm
so at to synchronise the beat of fate with reality

but we felt how the disclosure always keeps us waiting
until it is too late and the tears have already fallen

how the heart always rejoices too early and slips
on the stage cluttered with watered choirs

how the intrigue collapses but the tension remains
until a new walk begins for that most destroyed


the song burns and I wipe the red gleam from my forehead
hope is crushed and falls in the sea from wrongly dated towers

my sole fate longs for its star
but no beams are let through memory’s sudarium

in this mist where the victims drift aimlessly in their circles
where no one walks flashes from the clouds but where I see

how the cry of distress does not even leave a speck of dust behind
in this deep furrow torn open by at any rate somebody’s tears

and tired of the vanquished heart always having to pay
with an unconscious forgery for once more wanting to live

but still with dreams to be scoured clean in another water
like the roots of the biggest trees reach down to water

that can long murmur of centuries of water-life in the soughing
of springs where the depths finally vanquish themselves


gasping in our own net our impotence explodes
and the consuming lover’s hatred of himself

disguised as an abyss our fate rises up
prepared for something more than the harbour of destruction

reluctantly the torso frees itself from night’s stranglehold
forced by darkness to unbelievingly recall the light

over the dull eyes spreads the mist of humility
and the many ready travellers must wait for better visibility

dissolved into truth the dust of immortality sticks
fast to the bumblebee abdomen of denying illusions

the pierced zenith embraces the flutes of a shadow
here in bleeding outer space glides the rain’s whisper

that birth now awaits us at the ford of the seeing stones
that out in the water someone stands shoulder to shoulder with god


I dream of the memory of the hind’s hoof in the maze
as the word of one spared to the one who has saved his life

of mirrors and running water like smoke of eternity
like faith stacked on faith in misery’s removal-load

of everything that has been repeated and grown into unreality
of the red lips’ song of that loved and missed

oh memory: oh fury and god that melts everything
down to nothing and hunts the tangible to death

tell someone if perhaps the days’ feet are moving forwards
on the drum of truth with a dawn for us

tell the wind whirling between the gates of the horizon
seeking its position between hovering and gravity

tell the wanderer travelling yet deeper into the world
seeking his talisman of darkness and light


not you retreat that always beg for yourself the gift of coherence
when the violin follows its orbit round the heart’s dark planet

that turns its face towards us silvered with strains of sound
that turns its face away from us to the struggle in the dark

to you my chaos my gleaming home that I bless
and hate or indifferently assimilate in the smile’s currents

that pours its well into my eye where I roam the earth
ready to travel and ready to stay: weighing death

in my hand and life in my love and with the mountain of faith
before me like a staff with no shepherd planted in god

while the guillotine in the blue heart of the blue twilight
separates my body from the desolately drifting clouds

so that I force the dark into a long and liberating embrace
attain the happiness that is dictated by everything and nothing


and the one who understands nothing shall remember nothing
of a time that adorns its wounds with tablets of copper

but the one who stays shall not take root without memory
and three heavy steps in the empty ravine where the vulture

now broods on stone upon stone in blood’s heavy building
and the one who journeys shall have no other aim

than to discover the star waiting to be discovered
the star of the new creation that but few have glimpsed

yet to whom I dedicate this our truth before death
this rat-trap’s abyss and the long hour of waiting

this artificial calm that time has branded on my forehead
this splintered faith whose shards will yet moulder and grow

into future’s dream and the hind’s dream in the maze
and the word of one spared to the one who has saved his life

HCA: 'Hvad hele familien sagde' in English translation

What the whole family said

What did the whole family say? Well, let’s listen first to what little Marie said.
It was little Marie’s birthday, the loveliest day of the year in her opinion. All her young friends, both boys and girls, came to play with her, and she wore her finest dress; this she had been given by her grandma, who was now with the Lord God, but grandma had cut it out and sewn it herself before she left for the brightness and beauty of heaven above. The table in Marie’s room was resplendent with presents; there was the most attractive little kitchen with everything that belongs to a kitchen, and a doll that could turn its eyes in different directions and say ’Ow’ if you pressed its stomach; yes, and there was a picture book with the most delightful stories for you to read, when you were able to. But more delightful than all the stories was of course to be able to experience many birthdays.
‘Oh, it’s marvellous to be alive!’ little Marie Said. Her godfather added that life was the most wonderful fairytale adventure of all.
In the living room close by were both her brothers; they were big boys, one nine years old, the other eleven. They also felt it was marvellous to be alive, to live in the way they did, not as a child, like Marie, no, to be a cheerful schoolboy, to have ‘Excellent’ written in their reports and to be able to enjoy scrapping with their schoolmates, go skating in the winter and bicycling in the summer, to read about knight’s castles, drawbridges and dungeons, to hear about explorations in the depths of Africa. One of the boys though was anxious about everything being discovered before he had grown up; for then he wanted to go off on adventures. For godfather had said that life was the most wonderful adventure of all, and one is part of it oneself.
In was in the living room that these children were romping around; above them lived the other branch of the family, also children, although these were well past infancy, they were much more grown up; one son was seventeen years old, the other twenty, but the third one was very old, little Marie said, he was twenty-five and engaged to be married. All of them were most fortunately placed in life, had good parents, good clothes, the gift of a good mind, and they knew what they wanted, ‘onwards! away with all the old fences! a clear view of the entire world!’ that is the most wonderful thing we know. Godfather is right: life is the most wonderful adventure of all!’
The father and mother, both of them older – of course, they had to be older than the children – said with a smile round their lips, with a smile in their eye and heart: ‘How young they are, the young folk! things in the world will not quite go as they imagine, but they go on even so. Life is a strange, wonderful adventure!’
And above them, a little closer to heaven, as one says when there are people who live up in the attic, lived godfather. He was old in years but his mind was young, he was always in a good mood, and then he was good at telling stories, so many and such long ones. He had travelled far and wide, and there were lovely objects from all countries of the world in his room. There were pictures from ceiling to floor, and some of the window panes were of red and of yellow glass; if one looked through them, the whole world was bathed in sunshine, even if the weather was ever so grey outside. In a large glass box green plants grew, and in a compartment inside goldfish swam; they looked at one as if they knew so much that they didn’t want to speak about. There was always a scent of flowers here, even in the wintertime, and then a large fire would blaze in the fireplace; it was such fun to see and gaze into it and listen to it creaking and crackling. ‘It reads old memories to me!’ godfather said, and it also seemed to little Marie that many images could be seen in the fire.
But in the large bookcase close by stood the real books; one of these godfather often used to read in, and he called it the Book of All Books, it was the Bible. There, expressed in images, were the history of the whole world and of all humanity, the Creation, the Flood, Kings and the King of Kings.
‘Everything that has taken place and will take place is in this book!’ godfather said. ‘What an immeasurable amount in one single book! just think of it! Yes, everything a man could ever ask for has been said and expressed in few words in the Lord’s Prayer, it is a drop of mercy! it is the pearl of consolation from God. It is laid as a gift on the child’s cradle, laid at the child’s heart. Little child, keep it safe! never lose it, no matter how big you become, and you will never get lost on the changing paths of life! it will illuminate you, and you will never get lost!
Godfather’s eyes gleamed as he said this, they gleamed with joy. Once, in his younger years, they had wept, ‘and that was also a good thing,’ he said, ‘it was during times of tribulation, when everything looked so grey. Now I have sunshine around me and within me. The older one gets, the more one realises in adversity and in good fortune that Our Lord is always with one, that life is the most wonderful adventure of all, and that only He can give it us, and that it lasts into Eternity!’
‘It is marvellous to be alive!’ little Marie said.
As did the younger and older boys as well; father and mother, the whole family said it, but more than anyone so did godfather, and he had experience, he was the oldest of them all, he knew all the stories, all the adventures, and he said, and did so straight from the heart: ‘Life is the most wonderful adventure of all!’