a dream of nature about itself
Per Adolfsen, A Rainy Day by the Stream, 2020. Courtesy of the artist

Language: Danish
Poet: Knud Sørensen
Translator: Michael Favala Goldman

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a dream of nature about itself

A poem by Knud Sørensen, translated from Danish by Michael Favala Goldman

Knud Sørensen, born in 1928, was a certified land surveyor for 28 years, during which he became intimate with the Danish agricultural landscape. His work is best known for its portrayal of life in rural Denmark and the dissolution of small farming communities. A book reviewer for 14 years, he has also written 48 books and won over 20 literary awards. including a lifelong grant from the Danish Arts Council. In November 2014 he received the highest honor for a Danish author—the Grand Prize of the Danish Academy.

Michael Favala Goldman (b.1966) is also a poet, jazz clarinetist, gardener, and educator. Over 140 of Goldman’s translations and poems have appeared in dozens of journals, such as The Harvard Review and The Columbia Journal. His translation of Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen is Book Three of The Copenhagen Trilogy from Penguin Classics and FSG. His 16 books include his own original poetry and works by Knud Sørensen, Cecil Bødker, Suzanne Brøgger, Benny Andersen, and others.

https://michaelfavalagoldman.com/

Stubber Kloster

 

Når dine øjne
under vandringen hen over sletten
med det grågule græs
den lidt forkomne lyng
og de forblæste enebærbuske
har set sig lykkeligt mæt
på denne uberørte samtid
og når du så kommer
til det som du troede
var en forladt bondehytte
og du
forsigtigt
går ned ad den stejle trappe
står du pludseligt
under hvide hvælvinger
og for dine indre øjne
rejser ruinen sig
til en fortids storhed
stråtaget
skydes et par etager op
mod Vorherres Himmel
og nogle
ellers bortkomne længer
bliver du også bevidst om
et sted i din rygrad
og dine ører
fornemmer lyden
af nonnernes gang
i køkken og refektorium.

Men når du så igen
åbner de ydre øjne
er alt som før
om end lidt sløre
og det du hørte var ikke
lyden af nonnernes kutter
der strøg over gulvet
men det var vindens kælen
for det næsten knæhøje græs
derude.

Men din erindring om klostret
bærer du med dig
hele vejen tilbage
gennem et landskab
der vist må være naturens drøm
om naturen.

Stubber Abbey

                                                    Sevel, Denmark

When your eyes
during your wandering over the fields
of gray-green grass
the slightly wilted heather
and the windblown junipers
have been happily satisfied
by this pristine presence
and when you then arrive
at what you thought
was an abandoned farmer’s cabin
and you
carefully
go down the steep stairs
suddenly you are standing
below a white vaulted ceiling
and before your inner eye
the ruin is raised
to its past greatness
the thatched roof
juts a couple of stories
towards the sky of Our Lord
and a few otherwise absent wings
are also perceived
someplace in your spine
and your ears
sense the sound
of the nuns’ footsteps
in the kitchen and refectory.

But when you again
open your outer eyes
everything is as before
though perhaps a bit blurred
and what you heard
was not
the sound of the nuns’ habits
brushing the floor
but the wind’s caressing
the nearly knee-high  grass
out there.

But you take your memory
of the abbey with you
all the way back
through a landscape
which must be a dream of nature
about itself.