The daylight land is the alien land.
There we go clad in mask and armour.
There we go wrapped in name and past,
the cloaks of shame and the crowns of honour.
Here in the only and most extreme act
we shed the nine skins of the ego,
rise with closed eyes in the spring,
naked as foetuses and gods we go.
Naked as foetuses. The transfiguring night
beneath the human we touch, shivering,
follow in the tracks of primordial ancestors
deep sea dim and phosphorous-glimmering.
The year-millions' copulatory hunger
swallows and carries all earthly fate.
Human forms and names are transient
drops from the ecstasies' spate.
Stunned, I awake - from what bosom's greeting?
What I perceived was no human meeting.
I led a life on my self's sediments,
and I belonged to the elements.
Darkness-blinded , in torpor I sank
violated by phantoms, not by any man.
They made me burn, the desires of earth's ghosts,
and I gave birth to myth's monstrous hosts.
THE CHORUS (continues)
Naked as gods. In formless dawn
risen from the sea on the shore they stand.
Without knowing their way and their realm
they take one hesitant step across the sand.
Without knowing what strength they possess
they breathe gently, stop and turn around quite.
The worlds awake from the touch of their breath,
the depths and the heights come flaming alight.
How humbly immense a pride can be.
I am a holy image, a mere sign to see,
but translucent because a Power needs me.
Your worship fills and far exceeds me.
What became of our earthly being's weight?
You reveal what life does not yet create.
I myself am fire. No one am I.
Our realm deludes. Behind objects we lie.
Do you mean to close the final way?
Do you mean to dam the final spate,
where our arid essence is watered by
the worlds beyond all earthly fate?
Do you mean to choke in names all nameless
timeless fire from the creative pyre
until the consuming miracle yields before
the will and the goal to which you aspire?
O Lord, how you will judge us yet
make never us forget,
how wide your kingdoms reach.
In crowding here and dearth
lust was, the same as death,
a sigh from depths that none can reach.
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.