Thursday, October 17, 2019

From the Stoop

From the Stoop

By Tarjei Vesaas

Translated by Roger Greenwald

The shadows creep in across the clearing
like cool, quiet friends
after a burning day.

Our mind is a silent
kingdom of shadow.
And the shadows creep inward
with their friendly riddles
and their twilit blossoming.

The first shadow-tips
reach our feet.

We look up calmly:
Are you here already,
my dark flower.

Tarjei Vesaas, one of the greatest Norwegian fiction writers, has been less well known as a poet. Roger Greenwald, the leading translator of Scandinavian poetry, has impeccably translated Vesaas’ poems in the award-winning book ‘Through Naked Branches’. Tarjei Vessas’ poems are often narrative and carry symbolic overtones even when the apparent canvass is rooted in rural landscape. There is a sense of mystery and an element of angst apparent in many of his poems. His poems are intuitive and allusive in their theme and development. Aspects such as man’s alienation, gloominess of existence, death, search for meaning in life are captured more with an acute aural sensibility than visual (Roger Greenwald states in his insightful introduction that Vesaas is more fascinated by the mute and aural elements in nature than visual) in many of his poems. Through his allegiance to Norwegian Oral traditions, Vesaas crafts stunning and deeply perceptive poems with sparse vocabulary, pregnant pauses, mystical and associative imagery, murmurs and assonances.

This poem starts on a benevolent tone and gradually builds up with playful adjectives and imagery (friendly riddles/ twilit blossoming) to a somber finale with that racking question –‘Are you here already, /my dark flower.’

Source : Through Naked Branches: Selected Poems of Tarjei Vesaas, Revised Edition. Translated, edited,and introduced by Roger Greenwald. Boston: Black Widow Press, 2018