poetry from sweden

I know! I haven't posted poetry in forever! Sigh. having a class in it will do that to you, you know. Anyway, this is Karin Boye, a poet from Sweden who has been dead for a very long time. Jason introduced me to her in high school a la Nanook of the North, who have a song about her grave. (sweet little band, check them out) She was a lesbian poet that committed suicide by swallowing a bunch of pills and sitting on a boulder in 1941. She did a lot more that poetry- for example, she's the reason most of T.S. Eliot's work is available in Swedish- but that's what people remember her most for.

Including this piece, which is called "Ja visst gör det ont," which is translated to "Yes, of course it hurts":

Of course it hurts when buds burst.
Otherwise why would spring hesitate?
Why would all our fervent longing
be bound in the frozen bitter haze?
The bud was the casing all winter.
What is this new thing, which consumes and bursts?
Of course it hurts when buds burst,
pain for that which grows
and for that which envelops.

Of course it is hard when drops fall.
Trembling with fear they hang heavy,
clammer on the branch, swell and slide -
the weight pulls them down, how they cling.
Hard to be uncertain, afraid and divided,
hard to feel the deep pulling and calling,
yet sit there and just quiver -
hard to want to stay
and to want to fall.

Then, at the point of agony and when all is beyond
the tree's buds burst as if in jubilation,
then, when fear no longer exists,
the branch's drops tumble in a shimmer,
forgetting that they were afraid of the new,
forgetting that they were fearful of the journey -
feeling for a second their greatest security,
resting in the trust
that creates the world.

It's probably 1000x better in Swedish. keep that in mind.

that picture of her above is a statue in her honor in the town of Goteborg. I would like to think if I visited it would come alive and give me advice. we can dream.

English translations of her work are available here: