Thursday, August 18, 2005

Don't Come To Me With the Entire Truth

Don't come to me with the entire truth.
Don't bring me the ocean if I feel thirsty,
nor heaven if I ask for light;
but bring a hint, some dew, a particle,
as birds carry only drops away from water,
and the wind a grain of salt.

— Olav Hauge 1908 - 1991

I love this poem. It's from Robert Bly's book of translations, The Winged Energy of Delight. I was turned on to it by Virginia McIntrye, one of my Centrum students. Thank you, Virginia!


Emily Lloyd said...

I love it too. I love it too.

A. D. said...

Oooh! I just bought that book for virtually nothing through Amazon. Haven't had a chance to read any yet.

Victor Schnickelfritz said...

I can't really prescribe to the whole "don't tell the entire truth" school. Even though, like you, I scored a 77% on emotional intuition and shouldn't be good at quake, but I am. It's something of a family badge of honor. Anyway, I've always liked Bly's translations of Hauge (and Rolf Jacobsen too for that matter — though he writes in the citified "Nynorsk" version of Norwegian whereas Hauge writes in the old-speak of the rural hinterlands . . . . where are all the great contemporary Norwegian poets? I have been translating Stein Mehren for a number of years, worth taking a look at as well, but there is nothing in print.)

Perhaps birds only take a few drops of water because they have been able to hold their greed in check. Ah! more contrariness!

Anyway, here is another Hauge from Trusting Your Life To Water and Eternity on Milkweed Editions in Minneapolis.

You Are The Wind

I am a boat
without wind.
You were the wind.
Was that the direction I wanted to go?
Who cares about directions
with a wind like that!

P.S. Thanks for the post on sijo. I don't have any knowledge of the spoonerisms you refer to there.