To you first, you who believe you are innocent,
you slothful ones!
A heavy burden binds you to yourselves,
heavier than coarse bread and heavier than the earth can
On you the guilt for all the evil that was not prevented!
On you the guilt for all the good that was not done!
A heavy burden! Because of you
the world is going under.
By our own hearts we were forsaken.
By their steep walls is our bed for the night.
We are those doomed by life to a living death,
thirsting in trance for the springs' water bright.
Our arms we twine hard around our knees,
stilled by tension and not by repose.
Above the wall's crest float the fresh trees.
Beneath their roots we hear the springs ooze.
There are our lives. There are our souls.
You who come punishing, what will you do to deliver us?
If you know the way in, then all will be well.
But if we go away from the springs, the desert storm will
Bring no pitchers to those hot, dry mouths!
Never will we raise our hands for action,
never - until we drink from the innermost wells.
By our hearts' walls shall await transformation.
You cry out. Within me echoes
an answer faint.
but deep in all my valleys
Someone there is, one solitary
out of all my folk,
willing to serve you, crier,
to interpret, support.
But you see, I fear attack
in the soul's world,
the stupidity of the strong
who conquer by the sword.
Let my manifoldness
slowly heal away,
then one day perhaps each drop of blood
may answer your cry.
How inconquerable would he be
in self-clear belief,
who could grow into one
in ripening peace.
How powerless from his living skin
would the day's dust fall.
How mighty in silence he would glide
from the great noise of it all.
All that is split and scattered
yearns to be healed and made better
and asks for faithfulness yet.
You live in our midst, around us.
Yea, though our doubting bound us,
Lord, you were hidden in it.
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.