There are courtyards and lawns that have rung so long
with cries and laughter and noisy games,
with shrill small voices and voices breaking,
that even in solitude the stones echo.
There are rooms where the walls themselves have
so much raw healthy young life that it will never go,
and perhaps some yawns and perhaps some fear,
and perhaps some of the excitement that makes the
hours too short -
and perhaps the times of endless listening
and the joy of discovery at old new wonders.
There are staircases that have been worn by generations
of feet
in countless schools in countless lands
What a torrent has run between the school's walls
like a river rushing mightily between resting shores!
A river of young spring energy and new opportunities,
still seething with unrest and fermenting questions,
goes forth between banks which itself did not form,
with the future's seeds in its rumbling waves.
And the walls ask: Are we only the past?
Are we the obstacle that makes the energy break and
be checked?
Is the inheritance we leave so overwhelming
that perhaps the future itself lets itself be dammed?
But then there is a murmur from trees and grass and rain:
That which is truly future, nothing can dam!
What we have gathered of experience, of dream and
hope and will
is too costly to die when our lives are over.
We bore it to the river, the young, strong river,
which will perhaps take it towards the coming time.
And among all that we leave and all that it takes with us
there is much that will sink to the bottom and be forgotten,
but the best we found and the richest we lived
are the seeds that have energy and will be preserved
and kept.
Thus in the great stream thought is bound to thought
and will to will, as the hours stride on,
until generation after generation lets go of hands they
and goes to take up its task at last.
So they are bound here among games and lessons and
dreams -
like links in the great community,
that stretches out seeking towards all that we dare to
hope -
the children of men to the whole of mankind.

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.