The author of The Birds (Fuglane) and The Ice Palace (Is-slottet) is mostly known for his novels. However, not only he wrote novels, but also multitude of poems, such us Regn i Hiroshima, and Det ror og ror, whereas I translated myself the first one.
Born in 1897, he was living in late romanticism and early modernism times, which was also marked by high nationalism (in a positive sense) – in 1905 Norway regained its independence. He wrote his main books in 1957 (The Birds) and 1963 (The Ice Palace), and for the last one, he won The Nordic Council’s Literature Prize. He was also considered for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
I chose two poems, one from a volume of poems called Leiken og lynet (1947) and one from Lykka for ferdesmenn (1949). The Regn i Hiroshima is the most famous of his works, also Det ror og ror, which appears quite often in books. The hardest part with the translation of Regn i Hiroshima was that it’s written in nynorsk, and I mostly know bokmål (for those who don’t know – those are two writing systems in Norway). However, I gave it a go.
Regn i Hiroshima Rain in Hiroshima
Idet ho lyfte handa When she lifts the hand
for å ta tekanna to take the teapot
kom eit blindande ljos- came a blinding light-
var ikkje meir wasn’t more
alt var borte all was gone
dei var borte they were gone
omlaga til damp og sky, altered into cloud and steam,
gåtefullt, oppstigande og stumt. mysterious, increasing and mute.
Rop var ikkje rop i dette. Screams weren’t screams in this.
Men jorda slo høgt og vilt But wildly the earth struck high
ein knyttneve mot himmelen a fist towards the sky
ved mishandling, with violence,
– ved det attlevande veit – with the remained alleys
verda rundt worldwide
men ikkje orkar fatte: but can’t understand:
Hiroshima – Hiroshima –
Stigande milevide slør, Risen haze miles wide,
dei var i det, they were in this,
gått attende til ei urform. gone back to an old form
Ein skjerm av damp A screen of steam
over ei pint jord. above an agonized earth.
Vera eit grann av dette. Lasted a bit in this.
Vera i det bortdragande – Lasted in the dispersion –
Men ikkje lenge. But no longer.
Det drog snart meir frå kaos. There was more to the chaos.
Sløret vart dropar tett i tett, The haze was liquefying densely,
i dropens evige skapnad in drops everlasting shape
utan byrjing eller slutt. without beginning nor end.
Dei fall, They fall,
svalande, utalde, Cooled, uncountable,
i tungt regn nedover – in stodgy rain downwards –
Det ror og ror There’s rowing and rowing
Dagen er faren The day is past
– og det ror og ror. – and there’s rowing and rowing.
Det mørke berget, The dark mass of rock,
mørkare enn kvelden, darker than the evening,
lurer over vatnet leans over the water
med svarte folder: with black folds:
Eit samanstupt andlet A caved-in face
med munnen i sjøen. with its mouth in the lake.
Ingen veit alt. No one knows all.
Det ror og ror, There’s rowing and rowing,
i ring, in rings,
for berget syg. for the rock sucks.
Forvilla plask på djupet. Confused splashes on deep water.
Forkoment knirk i tre. Exhausted creaks from wood.
Forvilla trufast sjel som ror Confused and faithful soul that rows
og snart kan sugast ned. and soon can be sucked down.
Han står der òg He too stands there
den andre, the other,
han i bergfoldene, the one in the rock-folds
i svartare enn svart, in blacker than black,
og lyer utover. and listens outwards.
Lam av synd. Paralysed with shame.
Stivt lyande. Stiffly listening.
Stiv av støkk Stiff with fright
fordi her ror – for here there’s rowing.
Då må det gå blaff og blå-skin Then there must be gusts and blue-gleaming
fram og attende back and forth
som heite vindar like warm breezes
og som frost. and like frost.
Det ror og ror i natt. There’s rowing and rowing tonight.
Det ser og ser ingen. There’s no one seeing and seeing.
Ingen veit No one knows
kven som slikkar på berget who licks at the rock
når det er mørkt. when it is dark.
Ingen veit botnane No one knows the bed
i Angest sjø. of Lake Angst.
Ingen veit No one knows
kven som ikkje kan ro. who it is that cannot row.
Last poem translated by johnirons. I will try to do more translations like with the first poem, however it take up a lot of time. I hope you guys like the poem section of this blog so far.
Have a nice week!
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