Thursday, 30 May 2013

One of my PA poems


pa never learned to swim
once a year
he stood in grey woollen trunks
off the shore
with swan-wing shoulders
his unaccustomed flesh
blinking at the light

i’m unable to swim
pa confessed
but able to believe
i can
it’s a knack i have

lucky pa
swimming in eternity

Monday, 27 May 2013

Poem by the Danish writer
Tove Ditlevsen (1917-76)

Now o’er the earth God’s countenance is sinking,
the beating of his great heart’s calm and quiet,
and see, his forehead’s vault where you’re reclining
is cool as is a northern night in springtime.

His hand shields everything that’s in his keeping,
the good earth he created in his gladness.
He weeps at souls that lie there cold and waking
and kisses beasts and children that lie sleeping.

Oh, listen, a cool northern night in springtime.
God’s mild voice is the wind’s caressing murmur,
eternity is laid in flowers’ soft breathing –
now o’er the earth God’s countenance is sinking.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Rain poem by the Danish writer
Viggo Stuckenberg (1863-1905)

Spring rain

The rain falls on the marshes,
so fine and steady, mild and soft,
a rain that’s grey with growing,
a dew of life, that from aloft
towards earth’s heart is streaming

Like crystal pearls so tiny
within marsh marigolds’ embrace
the droplets’ glossy moisture,
and blackthorn leaves with coated glaze
midst snow-white buds are gleaming.

The yellow grass, the fragile,
the silky brown stems of the reeds
are silently aquiver,
and cobwebs’ silver veils like beads
twine round the blades now greening.

The rain falls on the marshes,
the day so quietly moves along,
a single small bird’s cheeping
and now it chirps its springtime song
while down the rain is streaming.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Poem from '1001 POEMS' by the Danish writer Klaus Høeck

            on the one hand lan
            guage is much too small
and tends to constrict rea
lity with its net of lo
            gic and on the oth
            er hand language tends
            to be much too big
            rambling away in
its own cockandbull stories
write the poem where language
            and reality
            are weighted the same

Thursday, 16 May 2013

'Lysets Engel gaar med Glans' - one of Ingemann's famous 'Morgensange'

B.S. Ingemann's 'Morgensange for Børn' ( 1837) and 'Syv Aftensange' (1838) are among the most well-known poems in the Danish language, due in part to Weyse's fine musical arrangements of them. These morning and evening songs have a distinctly Romantic view of childhood and an idyllic atmosphere. Their language is on the whole simple, with the occasional archaic throwback to a 'kings and castles' mode. Aksel Schiøtz has recorded many of the songs, but, as so often happens with Weyse's 6/8 and 2/4 melodies, they are turned into plodding 4/4 and thereby lose a lot of their lightness and momentum. There is an interesting arrangement for soprano and contralto duet + piano of these songs by V.E. Bielefeldt - highly usable for church concerts I have discovered. Audiences gasp at the tempo, but the songs come to life.

Gleaming bright, light’s angel see

Gleaming bright, light’s angel see
pass through heaven’s portal.
All of night’s black shadows flee
at God’s angel’s radiance immortal.

God’s light in his eye, the sun
o’er the world is gliding:
see! God’s envoy has begun,
high above on golden clouds he’s riding.

O’er the earth the angel spreads
God’s skies in their gleaming,
in his cloak of gauze-like threads
he enfolds the world so gaily teeming.

Rich man, poor man, great and small,
on them both sun’s peeping,
from above he sees them all,
kisses infants in their cradles sleeping.

Us the angel from on high
too would be embracing;
us he smiles at from the sky,
as God’s heav’nly gleam he’s tracing.

Us too does our Lord hold dear:
on each soul he gazes;
in each sunbeam God is near
and he hears our joyous morning praises.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Poem by Co Woudsma. For non-madurodam fans, check this miniature world on the Internet!


I’m big enough now, at my feet
lies the entire length of the street.

Walk through the essence of this land:
a canal that is house-hedged,
a cow down by the water’s edge.

Everything keeping time:
the march instructor, the conductor.
the bell-tower that must always chime.

Faint hubbub from the moving trail
though Dutch is whispered without fail
with Surinamese true to scale.

We giants do no harm,
take churches in our arms,
put out a pilot flame maybe
and from this good vale take our leave.

Life’s not too big there after all,
those who die there are really small.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

B.S. Ingemann poem, set to music by Niels W. Gade

On Sjølund’s plains so pleasing

On Sjølund’s plains so pleasing
down by the Baltic shore,
where woods with wreaths are friezing
the flower-strewn meadow-floor,
where silver streams now softly
glide past the ruin’s foot,
in ancient times a lofty
royal castle there once stood.

In golden halls so stately
a merry life was led,
where all did pleasure greatly
and jesting words were said:
King Valdemar had built there
his stronghold to defend
his life against all ill there
until the world should end.

With hunters he went riding,
upon his milk-white steed,
o’er hill and dale, fast striding
no danger did he heed;
but at the hounds’ loud baying,
the horn’s shrill calls far-flung,
they all forgot their praying
no holy mass heard sung.

Long since deep in the earth has
King Valdemar been laid,
in legends strange and terse has
his Hunt though been portrayed.
The farmer, poor man, crosses
himself aghast from fright
when hounds and hunters’ horses
tear past him late at night.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Poem by the Dutch writer
Co Woudsma


Right here and here only. Powerlines seem clean
erased. The birds as if evaporated.
The low red-orange sun hangs drying, sated.
Things hurt less mixed with mist, the pain’s less keen.

More ditch is born for every move ahead.
The waters are becalmed by freezing weather –
Moroccan girls stand studying together
the surface of fresh ice. The fish want bread.

The world now trails the walker, rests alone
each time he strays inside the whitish night
and in the silence does not know what land

it is surrounds him and what coast unknown
is creaking. But behind a floating light
the gate waits of the Chinese restaurant.

Monday, 6 May 2013

A Komrij poem from 'Smoke without Fire'


What gain does man derive from all his toil?
He steps from stalk to stalk across the mire,
Derided by the rainbow as he goes.

He cannot get enough of empty shows,
A borrowed jacket still is his attire
When, with closed eyes, he’s destined for the soil.

He who as mighty despot just held sway,
As pious vicar or as sage well-read,
Who just paraded as spes patriae

With colour in his cheeks and springy tread,
It’s hard to comprehend, but anyway,
Is dead and dead and dead and dead and dead.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Well-known midsummer poem by the Danish writer Ulf Hoffmann

Sweet is Denmark’s fragrance
at midsummer’s coming
feel the light, scents, humming
almost whisper: Stay!
Starlings, thrushes, hear them,
joy will soon draw near them,
new life come to cheer them,
though the leaves soon must,
all too soon be dust.
Dust and dust and dust.

Sweet is Denmark’s fragrance
in midsummer’s night now,
dream that you’re eighteen, how
your hair’s moist with dew.
Elders lining pathways
and a shawm’s glad forays:
would you own them always
ere all disappears
for how many years?
Years and years and years.

Sweet is Denmark’s fragrance
in midsummer’s showers,
find at daybreak bowers
in a haze of wine.
Nightingales still hidden,
from sweet slumber risen
hear you ask unbidden:
Will you be my own?
I am yours alone.
Yours and yours alone.