Cycling through a rainbow

30 March 2006 | Fiction, poetry

From Läsning för vandrare (‘Reading for hikers‘, Schildts, 1974). Introduction by Maria Antas


The people I was fond of have been
     wiped from my memory.
Do you remember a friend, perhaps?
     Be glad, then, you are still alive.


The one who has owned a room in
     someone's heart
is easily reconciled with the thought
     of eventually
gaining a room in the earth's bosom.

Love is only a preparation.

During a long life
I lived for a few minutes.

Live with your hand open
to the nestlings.

There was no one like me.

Welcome, poets,
to the cemetery.

Don’t. Be. Afraid. Of. The Dark.
There’s. No. Thing. There.

I dreamt I wrestled
with a flower and lost.

If you’ve fallen off the rainbow
you were on the rainbow.

Only those who live are able to forgive.

Do people still die today?

As a poem human life was

My most beautiful memory
when I cycled through a rainbow.


Is this business of disappearing
     really so serious?

No one is a human being
who hasn’t mourned
the loss of another
human being.

Death would not amount to much,
but illness, suffering, torment
– those confederates of life.

Death is too simple to describe.

One can get tired of years
but never of sunrises.

The sunset’s light
and long shadows
serve to fix your home place
forever in your eye.


Sometimes I wondered if flesh
might just be most dangerous
     substance in the world.

Does it still happen
that someone stops
in front of this stone?

You who know who I was,
tell someone.

You can be wasteful with love
for you can’t take it with you.
And no one inherits it.

A minute of communion
between man and woman
is enough for a life, or two.

The sorrows
one gets rid of.

Sorrow is a mercy for the living.

Of all the things in life
sorrow was
the hardest to lose.


Who will now mourn for the people
     I mourned for?

Life’s deepest task and meaning
is to keep something in order
outside oneself
like a summer cottage or a car.

Secrets are the only things
you can take with you.

There are more ghosts
among the living than among
the dead.

is like when mother
baked rice pudding
on Sundays.

what do you know about weariness?

To disappear is not
to not exist.
What has existed exists.
As I said.

One has reason to be astonished
right to the last.


In the dream I ran
one summer dawn along the shore.
Then I stumbled and fell to the ground.
With my heart pierced through
     by a sword lily.

No one sleeps on my arm.


All that I had: my life and health,
      my work, my friends
is someone else's now; be glad
      if it is yours.

Summer poems

(Published in Utförlig beskrivning av en bärplockares väg. Dikter från femtio år, ‘A thorough description of a berry-picker’s path. Poems from fifty years’, Schildts, 2006)

Even the Ice Age had its summers,
short it is true
as the Nordic summers are,
but light, light.
One saw the expanses of ice.
But one did not despair.
That is my consolation.


Hay belongs to the summer,
fragrant hay.
How lovely
a well-kept meadow smells!
And a barn full of hay,
the kind there were still in the country
until a short time ago,
could make people drunk.

The days of free hay are gone.
People don’t make love among bales.


The mist cups its hand
over the meadow’s bosom.
The sun throws down its gaze.
A curious moon rises
to see what is happening,
is going to happen, or has happened already.
The meadow says that she is unfortunately
already married. The mist’s hand
stays where it is.


We flesh-eating plants
are not so numerous here in the north.
I am the only one on this moss,
says the sundew.

It gets quite lonely sometimes.
My surroundings think I’m mysterious,
but I don’t care about that.
There are plenty of little flies here,
and creepy-crawlies.
One doesn’t have to go hungry.

But occasionally I
envy the grasses and the semi-grasses
that stand so close together.
I, I have no one
whom I can rely on.

But it’s all right.
And soon the summer
will be over anyway.


It’s important for the wanderer
to carry his mobile phone with him in the forest.
Many things can happen
in a summer forest.
There are deep holes in the ground
into which one’s legs can slide
up to the crotch.
Walker, be afraid
for the cervix of your thighbones.
If it’s windy
a rotten tree may
fall on you and injure you
for life.
Perhaps you don’t know how fast
a tree can fall?
Even the sap-filled branch of a pine
can, if it’s torn loose,
give you a nasty knock.
If it’s too late to call for help
you can still be traced
thanks to your mobile.

But even more important is
that someone can call you
if you have the phone in your pocket.

Someone you love.

Translated by David McDuff


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