You are currently viewing branches exist, wind lifting them exists, and the lone drawing made by the branches

Language: Danish
Poet: Inger Christensen
Translator: Susanna Nied


branches exist, wind lifting them exists, and the lone drawing made by the branches

An excerpt from alphabet by Inger Christensen, translated by Susanna Nied

Inger Christensen was born in 1935 and raised on the east coast of Denmark’s Jutland peninsula. She authored several books of poems, including ITButterfly Valley: A Requiem, and alphabet, as well as novels, essays, plays and children’s books. Often mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Christensen received numerous international awards, including the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize. Her work has been translated into over twenty languages.
Susanna Nied, a former instructor of English and comparative literature at San Diego State University in California, is an American writer and translator. Her translations have appeared in publications such as APRPoetryGrantaTin House, and Two Lines, and in several anthologies. For her work with Inger Christensen’s poetry, she has received the Landon Translation Prize of the Academy of American Poets, the American-Scandinavian Association/PEN Translation Prize, and the John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize of Poetry Magazine. Her translation of Christensen’s Light, Grass and Letter in April was recently selected as a finalist for the 2012 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.

7 [g] grænserne findes

grænserne findes, gaderne, glemslen

og græs og agurker og geder og gyvel,
begejstringen findes, grænserne findes;

grenene findes, vinden der løfter dem
findes, og grenenes eneste tegning

af netop det træ der kaldes egetræet findes,
af netop det træ der kaldes asketræet, birketræet,
cedertræet findes, og tegningen gentaget

findes, i havegangens grus; findes
også gråden, og gederams og gråbynke findes,
gidslerne, grågåsen, grågåsens unger;

og geværerne findes, en gådefuld baghave,
tilgroet, gold og kun smykket med ribs,
geværerne findes; midt i den oplyste
kemiske ghetto findes geværerne,
med deres gammeldags, fredelige præcision findes

geværerne, og grædekonerne findes, mætte
some grådige ugler, gerningsstedet findes;
gerningsstedet, døsigt, normalt og abstrakt,
badet i et hvidkalket, gudsforladt lys,
dette giftige, hvide, forvitrende digt

”7 [g] grænserne findes” By Inger Christensen, from ALFABET, copyright ©1981 by Inger Christensen

7 [g] given limits

given limits exist, streets, oblivion

and grass and gourds and goats and gorse,
eagerness exists, given limits

branches exist, wind lifting them exists,
and the lone drawing made by the branches

of the tree called an oak tree exist,
of the tree called an ash tree, a birch tree,
a cedar tree, the drawing repeated

in the gravel garden path; weeping
exists as well, fireweed and mugwort,
hostages, greylag geese, greylags and their young,

and guns exist, an enigmatic back yard;
overgrown, sere, gemmed just with red currants,
guns exist; in the midst of the lit-up
chemical ghetto guns exist
with their old-fashioned, peaceable precision

guns and wailing women, full as
greedy owls exist; the scene of the crime exists;
the scene of the crime, drowsy, normal, abstract,
bathed in a whitewashed, godforsaken light,
this poisonous, white, crumbling poem

“7 [g] given limits” By Inger Christensen, translated by Susanna Nied, from ALPHABET, copyright ©1981, 2000 by Inger Christensen,Translation copyright © 2000 by Susanna Nied. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.