Home > Translation > Three Swedish poems by Eva Ström and Johanna Ekström

Three Swedish poems by Eva Ström and Johanna Ekström

February 15, 2011

translated by Carol Berg

Dödssynder åtrår ni mig ännu?

by Eva Ström

Dödssynder åtrår ni mig ännu?
Vrede vill du blomma i mig?
Vill du driva blodet till mina kinder
och få mitt hjärta att accelerera.
Avundets korta sting,
vill du träffa mig,
låta mig fåfängt få rasa
efter ett annat liv.
Jag vill känna högmodet och gå
med högmodets vadderade ncacke,
jag vill känna den beska älskogens söta sting i min kropp,
och vila en stund på smickrarnas ockersålda mattor.
Jag vill känna hur slugheten får min hjärna att arbeta
och hur omåttligheten griper tag i mig i ett vällustigt begär.
Dödssynder åtrår ni mig?
Kan ni ännu verka i mig?


Deadly Sins, Do You Still Want Me?

Deadly sins, do you still want me?
Wrath, do you want to bloom in me?
Want to drive blood into my cheek
and make my heart accelerate.
Envy, short sting
do you want to smack me,
churn in me—vain rampages
after my next lonely life.
I want to feel pride and run
with pride’s stiff neck,
I want to feel the bitter sweet sting of sex in my body
and rest in the moment on flattery’s shaggy carpet.
I want to feel how cunning works in my brain
and how excess grips me and touches me with desire.
Deadly sins, do you still want me?
Can you still work in me?

* * *

Utan skicklighet men med förmåga

by Johanna Ekström

Utal skicklighet men med förmåga
lyfter du mig ur ledsnaden
Ytterst sakta
som visste du
att det som rycks upp
kan tappa något
på vägen


Without Skill But With Strength

Without skill but with strength
you lifted me out of my grief—
Utterly calm
as one who knew
that to snatch a thing up
allows little bits
to drop away

* * *

Vad händer minns

by Johanna Ekström

armarna längs sidorna
det kan se ut som om man väntar

de stora orden
sover under
handens flata

en karamell som sugs
till flisa
orden är som glas
en sticka under nageln

Vem har dött av kärlek

I fodret sover alla barnen
torkade om mun och ögon
de har ingen mun där mun skall vara
inte blick där blick skall vara
Vem har väl förlitat sig på själva skadan

Ur dessa händer kan eldar löpa
kännetecken brännas bort

Händer faller som tulpanblad
sveper bort ett anletsdrag

Som händer gör i sömnen
de minns sin ensamhet

Hon lägger bladen över barnen
täcker dem med handens flata

Ingen har dött av kärlek
Det finns en motvind som jag aldrig känt


What Hands Remember

arms at sides
appear as if they are waiting

the large words
sleep under

a hard candy is sucked
till slivered
glass words like
splinters under fingernails

Who has died of love?

In the coffin lining all the children sleep
mouth and eye wiped dry
their mouths are not where mouths should be
don’t see what they should see
Who isn’t convinced of their own harm?

These empty hands flare
birthmarks burned away

Hands fall as tulip leaves
sweep away the face’s features

Hands jolt in sleep
remembering their loneliness

She lays a blossom over the children
covers them with the palm of her hand

No one has died of love
There is a storm like I have never felt.

Download the podcast

Eva Ström was born in 1947 and lives in Kristianstad, in southern Sweden. She made her literary debut in 1977 with the poetry collection Den brinnande zeppelinaren. Ström trained as a physician and worked in the medical profession from 1974 to 1988 before becoming a full-time author. She has recently translated Shakespeare’s complete Sonnets into the Swedish language, which was reviewed in the Swedish newspaper, SvD.

Johanna Ekström was born in Stockholm in 1970. She is a writer and visual artist who has presented at galleries around Sweden. Her work includes a short story collection Vad vet jag om hållfasthet (What do I know of stability) and seven books of poetry.

Carol Berg’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Artifice, The Flea, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Pebble Lake Review, Rhino, blossombones, and elsewhere. She has an MFA from Stonecoast and an MA in English Literature.

  1. February 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I didn’t get to read it during the editorial process, but I really like this poem “Deadly Sins” — one of my favorites so far. It makes me feel like Swedish-English translators have it easy (the original and the translation even ended up having the same shape on the page!), but I think that means more that this translator makes it LOOK easy, and less about the languages involved.

  2. Carol Berg
    February 16, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Thanks so much, Nick, for your comment.

  3. February 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    These are marvelous — “Deadly Sins” is a kick, and the “little bits / that drop away” – oh, such a visual-aural perfectness of image.

    • Carol Berg
      February 19, 2011 at 8:14 am

      I’m glad you like these Peg. Ekstrom has several small visually strong & beautiful poems–you should check more of them out if you get the chance.

  4. June 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I had an assignment to pick a poem in another language and redo it, making it my own. So, being that I’m an 1/8 Swedish, I searched for a Swedish poem and found Ekstrom, who is an amazing poet and I’m extremely happy I found it. (Btw that’s the reason I linked from your site to mine lol). :)

  5. Luis
    January 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    commpletly an excelent poet, I hope become a good poet like them

  6. Luis
    January 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    I like the way she writes..

  1. February 16, 2011 at 11:20 pm
  2. May 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm
  3. June 8, 2011 at 10:16 pm
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: