Poem of the Week, week 47: Terje Johanssen "Northern City"


Take part in a weekly journey through 52 poems by authors from Norway throughout 2019 – Norway’s year as Guest of Honour.

NORTHERN CITY Freezing light. Cold blood. Grey-eyed horizon. So unchanging vulnerable like a human far off, tiny, beneath carpets of grey-green lichen. All these hours, rattling of plates, small cries, smell of tar and iodine. And in the evening: the ships with their triple blasts and the brass bells sounding the hour of departure. A dark, rolling sea. Streets without houses, houses without streets. And a wet, screeching gull above a corrugated iron roof. Translated by John Irons
BY I NORD Isende lys. Kaldt blod. Gråøyet horisont. Så uforanderlig sårbar som et menneske langt borte, lite, under tepper av grågrønt lav. Alle disse timene, klirr i tallerkener, små rop, lukt av tjære og jod. Og om kvelden: skipene med sine tredoble støt og sine slag i messingklokker før avgangens time. Mørkt, bølgende hav. Gater uten hus, hus uten gater. Og en våt, skrikende måke over et bølgeblikktak.

From Terje Johanssen (1942–2005), By 1990, Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, Oslo 1990.

Poem of the Week. 52 poems through the year

From the time when the earliest texts were recorded in runic inscriptions, poetry has had a strong position in Norway. By introducing a new poem each week throughout 2019, we aim to highlight the quality and breadth of Norwegian poetry. «Poem of the Week» presents 52 poems, inspired by the changing seasons and the passing of the year. The selection has been made by Annette Vonberg and Tone Carlsen, and consists of poems from the earliest handwritten manuscripts up until today, with a special emphasis on contemporary poetry.

Poem of the week