All too clearly, frighteningly clearly
we hear the crash of the Spanish shells.
Groaning in the wind, weeping in the rain
breaks the peace on silent evenings.
In the midst of self-sufficient states
people are bitterly forced to learn:
the earth has shrunk and become small;
never was all Europe so close.
From the unending horizon
space closes tighter and tighter.
Soon when our children have grown,
there will be no recesses or distances left.
Full of fear, with lips closed,
we wish luck on their future. - -
Children whose eyes have drowned in horrors
will grow to become their shadow and times.
Centuries of plague, times of pestilence
will one day roll across the lands.
Give that one day we may endure
where the health of our souls is concerned!
Terror and hate and the froth of the wild animal
creep like plague-poison over our minds.
He may be thankful who has managed to heal
some wound among the most painful memories.
Roof over the head, shelter against the cold,
the bread that relieves the naked distress,
the warmth in the hand, the light in the voice -
these are weapons in a struggle against death.
They are all like circles around a stone: they spread
far out across the water's surface.
No one can know how far he will reach,
only that he is fighting on the side of life.

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.