Wednesday, May 28, 2014


The Everyday

The great storms

are behind you now.

Back then you never asked

why you were or

where you came from, where you were going,

you were simply a part of the storm,

the fire.

But it's possible to live

in the everyday as well,

the quiet gray day,

to plant potatoes, rake leaves,

or haul brush.

There's so much to think about here in this world,

one life's not enough.

After work you can roast pork

and read Chinese poetry.

Old Laertes cleared brambles

and hoed around his fig trees,

and let the heroes battle it out at Troy.

Erratic Boulder

What an extraordinary place

to settle on,

on a ledge, poised

on the brink.

Don't you value your own success?

Let Me Be Like the Dung Beetle

Sorrow has settled over me

and weighs me down in a warm straw bed.

Let me at least move,

test my strength, lift this slab of sod —

let me be like the dung beetle

in spring when it digs itself out from the dung heap.


If you can make a poem

a farmer finds useful,

you should be happy.

A blacksmith you can never figure out.

The worst to please is a carpenter.

This Is the Dream

This is the dream we carry through the world

that something fantastic will happen

that it has to happen

that time will open by itself

that doors shall open by themselves

that the heart will find itself open

that mountain springs will jump up

that the dream will open by itself

that we one early morning

will slip into a harbor

that we have never known.


Not By Car, Not By Plane 

Not by car,

not by plane —

by neither haysled

nor rickety cart

— or even by Elijah's chariot!

You'll never get farther than Basho.

He got there by foot.

Animal Grave

Just a hollow

in the ground now,

sunk down,

stones have covered it over,

earth and leaves

have filled it


You pause a moment,

it's hardly

worth noticing,

a deer hoof

would barely

trip over it

— not now. 

Mountains Don't Attract Me Anymore

The mountains don't attract me anymore.

I've lived long enough between cold snowfields.

I will find my way in the woods, listen

to fall wind, and stop at the frozen ponds,

engage with streams. Even late in the year

you can find good berries there.

You have to cross mountains if that's not enough.

Peaks stand there, so you know where you are.


How Long Did You Sleep?

Dare you do this —

open your eyes

and look around?

Yes, you're here

here in this world,

you're not dreaming,

it's just as

you see it, things here

are like this.

Like this?

Yes, just like this,

not otherwise.

How long did you sleep?

I Pass the Arctic Circle

A man on the train points out the cairn on the mountain.

We're passing the Arctic Circle, he says.

At first we don't see any difference,

to the north the land looks the same,

but we know where we're headed.

I wouldn't have noticed this little event

if I hadn't, one of these days, passed seventy.


(Norway 1904~1994)

The Dream We Carry

selected and Last Poems
translated by Robert Bly and Robert Hedin
Copper Canyon Press 2008

All translations above by Robert Hedin except where noted "RB" [Robert Bly]