Thursday, 18 June 2009

Tarjei Vesaas: a poem

Tarjei Vesaas (1897-1970) is best known for a series of novels set in the Norwegian countryside including The Ice Palace. He was also an accomplisehed poet. In 2000 a selection of his poems was published in English translation, translated by Roger Greenwald, entitled Through Naked Branches. Vesaas' poetry has a slightly mystical flavour.

Here is one of my own attempts at translating a poem of his:


WHERE THE FLAME WAS BURNING

By the long grey road
there is ash after a fire gone out
and signs of departure
in dust and heat.

That is all.
But the flame that burned
in the circle of the travellers
whirled only before the eye
in unextinguished longing.

They were travelling for a dream
and could give all,
and must go on in their searchings
and their unease,
and the bonfire burned on
in every edge of sight,
whilst new searchers dug in the ashes
and in the ground under the ashes,
and it is dream
that is happiness
for those journeying.

*

Translated from Norwegian (nynorsk) by Eric Dickens

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