The few who dared to be
- blessed may they be! -
have been maimed and slain all over again
by us who dare not see.
Darkened icons
equal, the same in size
hang images of the living who burn
cramped among much that is less.
The centuries have smoothed
their strange features away,
as we ourselves zealously smooth
day after day.
We file and embellish
as best we can and may,
until nothing distinguishes spirit now
from respectability.
The young go in search
of the fire that burned,
They go with empty eyes
that nothing have found.
They must suffer it all again.
Poor ones, they!
We squandered the gains of the holy - we
who did not dare to see.

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.