I would like to have woken you to a nakedness like a naked      
                               evening in early spring,
when the stars brim over
and the earth burns beneath melting snow,
I would like to have seen you just once
sink in the darkness of creative chaos,
would like to have seen your eyes like wide-open space,
ready to be filled,
would like to have seen your hands like flowers unfolded,
empty, new, in expectancy.
You are going, and nothing of this have I given you.
I never reached to where your being lies bare.
You are going, and nothing of me are you taking with you -
leaving me to defeat.
Another farewell I remember:
we were hurled from the crucible like a single being,
and when we parted, we no longer knew
which was I and which was you...
But you - like a bowl made of glass you have left my hand,
as finished as only a dead thing is and as changeable,
as without any memories other than the light imprints of fingers
that are washed away in water.
I would like to have woken you to a formlessness like a         
                       formless flickering flame
that finds at last its living form, its own...
Defeat, oh, defeat!

Translated into English by David McDuff in "Karin Boye: Complete poems".

Swedish original

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.