Friday, 17 June 2011


by Pia Tafdrup

Wild geese are gathering on the field
soon the whole flock will rise,
flying up over the woods, out across the water.
An ocean rolls within me
  wide open. 
I am too slow
for quick changes,
          too quick 
for things to go so slowly that life
                                becomes futureless.
Dreams start
  even before one learns to walk.
From the other side of the Atlantic
I can see better
what Scandinavia is –
the black duckling, the white swan,
Ibsen, Strindberg, Kierkegaard,
  gravity, melancholy, irony,
the wind settling round the trees,
  no other embrace,
the grey-white light of winter days,                         
loneliness enough
           for all.
In a Chinese street
where I try
to distil meaning out
of the words’ acoustics
I understand the dependence
on my Danish language
             the aorta
that runs underground in my body
no matter how aimlessly I 
travel around, buoyed up
by the light.
I move forward,
  the same sky seen
from different angles,
  the same Earth,
the blood’s cadence sets the pace.
Every detour I make
goes by way of myself alone. 

translated from Danish by David McDuff

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