Thursday, 24 February 2011

Two Poems

by Pia Tafdrup


The world was old
even before
it was born,
for no one learns
from others’ experience,
  only by making
the mistakes oneself
over and over again.
Atlas, globe, map, 
the world was discovered, 
  only not by me…
In the heart is
the signpost
    I follow.
What else can I
so exactly
navigate by?

Not a stone in the shoe 
that chafes long before 
it registers as stone, 
but a stone on the road, 
                   a stumbling stone, 
that suddenly makes the heart 
pound in the chest, as waves 
roll from foreign shores 
  in towards the coast, 
where I grew up, 
  into the poems I write. 
A stone 
between before and after 
at an insurmountable distance 
on a hot day 
without a cloud in the sky. 
A stone, 
lying as it does, 
  sun up there 
  stone down here 
substance, matter, 
in order to point out 
that I am scarcely
on the road –
but the  mind is racing. 
What does a person think of 
  while walking? 
Not necessarily of travel, 
the legs walk by themselves, 
once they've learned 
  to walk. 
Quite often the person thinks about
not having much time 
                 to live, 
thinks about events that are 
like scars in the heart 
or about changing 
for the better, at least 
I walk on the road 
the mind is racing 
            over a wayless terrain, 
                           far beyond this present now. 

(from Trækfuglens kompas, 2010)

translated from Danish by David McDuff

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