poetry

When They Sleep

by Rolf Jacobsen

When They Sleep

Translated by Robert Hedin

All people are children when they sleep.
there’s no war in them then.
They open their hands and breathe
in that quiet rhythm heaven has given them.
They pucker their lips like small children
and open their hands halfway,
soldiers and statesmen, servants and masters.
The stars stand guard
and a haze veils the sky,
a few hours when no one will do anybody harm.
If only we could speak to one another then
when our hearts are half-open flowers.
Words like golden bees
would drift in.
— God, teach me the language of sleep.

from Night Music: Selected Poems, by Rolf Jacobsen / Translated by Robert Hedin

Rolf Jacobsen (8 March 1907 – 20 February 1994)  one of Scandinavia’s most distinguished poets, who launched poetic modernism in Norway with his first book, Jord og jern (Earth and Iron) in 1933. The central theme in his work is the balance between nature and technology – he was called “the Green Poet” in Norwegian literature.

poetry

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