He is the man without mercy -
eyes of shimmering amber,
eyes of shining cold gold,
hands of ivory bone:
clear and hard eyes,
fine and hard hands -
reckoned by passionate dreamers
as stone of the desert's stone.

The desert has wide realms of sand
and strange springs,
dead cities and living leaves
and light for an anchorite.
There he has pitched his camp,
his thin, needy tent -
Trappist in science,
an ascetic of the mind.

His aspiring vulnerability
like a hindrance he breaks in the battle,
reckless, when needs be, and cold
to whistling, laughter, applause.
Inhuman he seems.
Like the north wind his pathos chills.
He fights the frightening fight of thought,
the man with no mercy at all.

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.