A Journey into the North

A few weeks back I came across a stunning piece of music. Little did I know it would take me into a poem I’ve been travelling towards for a long time. Here’s the music that first enchanted me. It’s in Norwegian, but it is beautiful in any language.

Then next step in this journey was this post in Sigrun’s Norwegian Blog about nature, reading, writing, and home: Sub Rosa. I was quite taken by the wooden nature of the translations (done by prominent 70s-era poets), and asked if there might be an audio version. Sigrun generously replied, with this post, which contains some evocative imagery, and this reading, by the poet Olav H Hauge:

And what do you know, that’s the poem that Sinikka Langeland was playing and singing, that first enchanted me! That got me to thinking further, and with the help of YouTube, I quickly found a stronger reading by Hauge, although not of Det er den Daumen. Here it is:

In this reading, I got a feeling for this man’s work in poetry: wit, coupled with colloquial changes of rhythm, and great brevity. When I listened to Det er den Daumen again, I heard complex rhythms in his final sentence, which matched his thought but which the English translations just steamrolled right over. So, I offer here, as a part of a process of unfolding thinking, this version (it’s not a translation) of Det er den Daumen, which steps out of the hybrid modern vocabulary and simplified grammar of late twentieth century English into a more complex syntax, married with English poetry’s roots in spell craft and English’s Old Norse and Anglo Saxon vocabularies for the physical and spiritual world. I post it here for Sigrun, with my thanks. I don’t know if I did the poem any justice, but I think some music and wit found me in that last line, and that’s at least something:

It is the Dream

And so my journey north, into the heart, continues. You can download an mp3 reading of a slightly earlier version of this poem here.


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