Beautiful is a strong body,
that cleaves a hard wave,
Beautiful, beautiful is the child's sleep
after tension playing gave.
Beautiful is the day of work
- hard bread, broken and blest -
and beautiful an hour that forgets in wine
the future and the past.
We were born of mothers of heaven and earth
and of powers with no end in view,
nocturnal wills and wills of light
with names that no one knew.
May one of the many
not gain power over us,
though she be of heaven's race
and shine in magnificence.
In us a multiplicity lives.
It fumbles towards unity.
Its capturing, gathering burning-glass
we were born to be,
Great is man's striving,
great the goals it has set -
but much greater is man himself
with roots in universal night.
So give, that we shield a secret room
and never a flame do lack
on the altar of an unknown god,
that may tomorrow wake.
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.