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Poetry From the August 2011 issue: The Arab Spring, Part II



So much of this happened
in basements, in thick woolen sweaters, in B major
but with strong passages in minor. On the outskirts.
That’s where we were from
but our thoughts had wings like the pigeons
and like them tried to find urban quarters
where the life of the spirit was more shaded, fluttering
over stone walls heavy with history. The shadow-play of thoughts
exposed what words concealed, that no love is as strong
as the one that goes unrequited. A gentle drizzle
fell over the bike rack. I remember everything
from inside the rain.

No one has said it more plainly than Barney Bigard
in his clarinet solo in “Creole Love Call”
with Duke Ellington’s orchestra. Literally
heartrending. For those who love each other music
is just the background. For the one who’s no longer loved
it’s everything. He hears it from inside the drizzle
up the street and down again. Who has the right
in this context to poke fun at Pathetic images:
a heart pierced by a spindle
on a rotating platter.
Then notes rise up
to which the shadows can dance; the others’ shadows.

“1956” copyright 2003 by Gunnar Harding. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2011 by Roger Greenwald. All rights reserved.

Så mycket av det här tilldrog sig
i källare, i islandströjor, i B-dur
men med starka mollinslag. Utkanterna.
Det var där vi hörde hemma
men våra tankar hade vingar som duvorna
och sökte sig som de mot stadsdelar
där själslivet är mer schatterat, fladdrande
över traditionsrika stenmurar. Tankarnas skuggspel
avslöjade det som orden dolde, att ingen kärlek är så stark
som den som inte är besvarad. Ett stilla duggregn
föll över cyckelställen. Jag minns allt
inifrån ett regn.

Ingen har sagt det tydligare än Barney Bigard
i klarinettsolot Creole Love Call
med Duke Ellingtons orkester. Bokstavligen
hjärtskärande. För dem som älskar varandra är musiken
bara en fond. För den som inte längre är älskad
är den allt. Han hör den inifrån duggregnet
gata upp och gata ner. Vem har rätt
att i dessa sammanhang gyckla med patetikens bilder:
ett hjärta genomborrat av ett stift
på en roterande tallrik.
Så uppstår toner
till vilka skuggorna kan dansa, de andras skuggor.

Copyright 2003 by Gunnar Harding. All rights reserved.

Gunnar HardingGunnar Harding

Gunnar Harding (born 1940) started as a jazz musician, studied painting in Stockholm, and made his literary debut in 1967. He has published sixteen volumes of poetry, as well as translations and nonfiction. In 1992 he was awarded the Bellman Prize by the Swedish Academy; 1993 saw publication of a comprehensive selection of his poetry, covering the years 1969-90. In 1995 he was awarded the Svenska Dagbladets Literature Prize in recognition of his important role in Sweden's literary life since the 1960s, and in 2001 he won the prestigious Övralid Prize.

Translated from SwedishSwedish by Roger GreenwaldRoger Greenwald

Roger Greenwald, a poet from New York, lives in Toronto. He has won two CBC Literary Awards and many translation awards. His books include Connecting Flight (poems); North in the World: Selected Poems of Rolf Jacobsen, winner of the Lewis Galantière Award (American Translators Association), and most recently, Picture World, a translation from Danish of a book-length poem in twenty-four parts by Niels Frank.