You are like the mollusc in chilly ponds
where sunbeams never get.
She never creeps out from her shell,
her prison she cannot forget,
she can only hide
her deepest essence
and dream of exploits great
among the waterweed,
but never wholly
and undividedly
empty herself into word or deed.

With irony your speech full spills.
You try to cover
with pretended cold
life's warmth that inside dwells.
But your voice trembles,
is strangely weak,
A blush hovers
behind each pale cheek.
A sea of fire burns
in a secret place
that no one knows,
no one can trace.

You are too frail and too weak and tame
for all the discords that sever:
to wear armour you must endeavour
in life's hard-handed game.
You are like the mollusc in chilly ponds
that never creeps out of her shell,
so unattainable,
so incomprehensible,
that no one will near you, ever.

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.