by Edith Södergran
translated by Janice D. Soderling
This deceptively simple poem was written by one of the most eminent Nordic modernists. The early influences on Edith Södergran (1892-1923) were French symbolism, German expressionism and Russian Futurism, but she assimilated these to create a style that was entirely her own.
Born in St. Petersburg, the young Edith Södergran, between her fourteenth and sixteenth year, wrote poetry mostly in German, but also in French, Russian, and Swedish. Her native country was Finland, once the eastern half of the Kingdom of Sweden and where Swedish is still an official language. Fortunately for Swedish literature, she elected as an adult to write in that language.
Though little recognized at the time of her death in tuberculosis, her fame has grown steadily. This translation of Stjärnorna is from her first collection, published in 1916.
As night comes on,
I linger on the stairs listening
to the swarming of stars in my garden,
and I stand there in the dark.
Did you hear that! The clang of a falling star!
Don’t go out in the grass with bare feet:
my garden is full of broken star shards.
* * *
När natten kommer
står jag på trappan och lyssnar,
stjärnor svärma i trädgården
och jag står i mörkret.
Hör, en stjärna föll med en klang!
Gå icke ut i gräset med bara fötter;
min trädgård är full av skärvor.