East of Bjura village
is a wild and desolate stretch,
where lichen-shaggy spruces
stand sullenly on watch.
There lived Torkel Tyre,
till murder outlawed the wretch.

Near Bjura village
lies a mossy stone.
If one hides behind it
when evening has begun,
one sees the village glimmer
with many a warm tone.

'There's a light in Halvar's farm.
There's a light in Torsten's place.
There sits Torsten carving
by a crackling log fire blaze.
There's a light in Kettil's cottage.
Each light I recognize.

What did I know of land,
safe on land ensconced?
Now on long nights I stand
and count the treasure I lost.
Gold gleams above the drifts
in winter nights' blue dust.'

Thus stood he and looked and looked,
when the sliding of skis was heard.
A panting maiden came wild in flight,
to the village in need she was turned.
Close behind her a shadow slid
with eyes that burned.

But Torkel seized his knife.
He hewed, he stabbed, he cut,
and sharp, white teeth
gave answers obstinate.
Near morning he felled the wolf,
but tired to death, lay flat.

We found him where he lay.
And note that we acted well.
We sent word to the priest.
He delivered the man's soul.
When the sun rose over the forest,
we beat Torkel to hell.

We could have spared his life,
but the value of such is not great.
A murderer was Torkel.
We acted as we ought.
We all are men from the land,
and this was done aright.

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.