No worm, no seed in the wind
is armed more weakly against life's peril,
no baby bird is exposed
more helplessly to the mercy of the strong.
What daring of the hidden powers
to let themselves be born by human children
and pour the wine above all wines
into this bowl of thin temple-cork!
But in timid fear we approach
the eyes of the child, scarcely awake,
in which forms and colours are reflected
overwhelming, new, naked -
creators' eyes that will tame the visions
and slowly order the cosmos's home,
divide the waters from the vault above
and set earth's fastness between them.
And in fear and trembling we approach
those volcanic dawns
whose eruptions of fire and geysers
still rock us on slow swells:
then the day was deep and eternal,
strangely sated with a violent spring;
life burned intolerably,
like a sun in its blue veins.
Remorsefully they draw near to us,
the sunken lands, thoughtlessly abandoned,
that hide our royal sceptres
and all that the Mothers intended as a miracle -
the earth's magic healings,
spiders' webs in morning dew,
and the sacred energy of growth -
all buried under the slag of the years.
Among the blind who seek power
in dead destruction,
the child walks like a sorrowless smile
of what makes alive.
On the day when the steel fails
and the peoples cry for the Primordial Flood -
on that day the child will have won,
on that day fate will change.
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.