Friday, 25 March 2011


Salvador Dali - Galatea of the Spheres

Luck has no songs, luck has no thoughts, luck has nothing.
Push your luck, so that she breaks, for luck is evil.
Luck comes softly in the whisper of morning among the sleeping bushes,
luck glides away in the light images of clouds over deep blue depths,
luck is the field that sleeps in the burning heat of noon, 
or the endless expanse of the sea under the piercing vertical rays,
luck is powerless, she sleeps and breathes and does not know anything . . . . 

Do you know pain? She is strong and big with secretly clenched fists.
Do you know pain? She is a hopeful smile with eyes red with tears.
Pain gives us all what we need -
she gives us the keys to the realm of death,
she pushes us through the gate when we still hesitate.
Pain baptizes the children and remains awake with the mothers
and forges all the golden wedding-rings.
Pain rules over everything, she smooths the brow of the thinker,
she clasps the jewel round the neck of the desired woman,
she stands by the door when a man is leaving his love . . . .
What else does pain still give to the ones she loves?
I do not know of more.
She gives pearls and flowers, she gives songs and dreams,
she gives us a thousand kisses which are all empty,
she gives us the only kiss that is true.
She gives us our strange souls and curious desires,
she gives to all the highest gain in life:
love, loneliness and the face of death.

Edith Sodergran

translated from Swedish
by Jaakko A. Ahokas

Edith Sodergran  was born in St Petersburg (Leningrad), where her parents belonged to the Swedish-speaking population of Finns. She was sent to a German school. After the Russian Revolution she and her mother took refuge in Finland, where they lived in extreme poverty. Her poems, published in Helsinki, were bitterly attacked by all but a few critics, and she was entirely isolated except for her attachment to Hagar Ollsen, a young woman writer who introduced her poems to other young Finnish poets. Sodergran died of tuberculosis and the effects of hunger. After her death she was hailed as a reformer of Swedish poetry in both Finland and Sweden, and her fame has increased with time.