Rostrum of Fate

Rostrum of Fate

Speak not of
great nations and small nations
peripheries, corners of the world and fringes.

This is a ball; the middle
is under the soles of your feet
and moves itself and follows
you, no matter where you go.

Here is the land
where the continents correspond
in their search for silence and stone.

Behold the glacier
how it waddles through the skyblue
like a polar bear on its way through the world.

In the dream a gate opens
and darkness comes streaming
like tears through sleep.

Here is the land
where time comes tumbling
like a newspaper through a letter slot,
but there is no subscriber,
no room behind it
only a yawning abyss
in which the stars shine.

When we sink to the bottom
in the dark swamp of night
we pull ourselves up again by the hair.

The Milky Way
is a street in a little fishing village,

fate is a net
laying itself over the houses,
we make our toasts
with the abyss of the sea between us.

The northern lights
flame where we walk.

(Einar Már Gudmundsson)

This is a translation from the Danish of Gudmundsson’s poem as published in “Ræk mig nordlysene. Digte i udvalg”, Vindrose publishers. The original is written in Icelandic, and the Danish translation is by Erik Skyum-Nielsen. The English translation here is mine.


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