When Christmas Eve tautens
then creak floor and door.
The dead since times primordial
seek us as before.
In our homes they take their seats
and us they remind
that in that olden time
for them too Christmas was a feast,
'We come not with fear,
with solace we come.
We saw your desertion
one dark autumn long.
How good to be with you in here.
Sit by the fire with us a while
We knew the horror, we as well,
it was like yours, our despair.
We stood with frozen mouths
in the world's night at our post,
and the sky's stiffened wells
lay ice blue with frost.
Death's sting we came to know.
And death's snow lay wide.
Then someone said: Wait -
a morning star I saw.
We heard. We believed,
We lit flares in our distress.
And we stood up for the light-feast
in darkness and death.
You say: "Fools' flares!"
And if you can, then douse them.
But lift them rather and give them
from us to the new race!'
- - -
The empty winter skies
have smothered every cry.
But the souls listen endlessly,
the dead and we.
In some corner hidden away
by a world to destruction worn,
there is a child being born,
a promised child on straw and hay.
into English by David McDuff in "Karin Boye: Complete poems".
Copyright © 2005:
Translation from Swedish into English: David McDuff
Published with the permission of:
David McDuff, translation.
May and Hans Mehlin, Layout.
For more information, please visit the website
of David McDuff and his
own pages with the translations.