Jaan Kaplinski, from White Butterflies of Night

This poem, translated from Russian by Boris Dralyuk, is in Granta 134 (winter 2016)

It feels like it was only yesterday morning that I got up from my desk
leaving my biography half-written and half-read
I don’t remember whether I believed that I could just
abandon one life to begin another
or whether it was simply a moment of half-consciousness
and returning half a century later proved just as hard
almost like dying and being born again
but the first life had carried on as usual all on its own
without me without my knowledge or desire
what was left on the desk were the contours of my former self
everything to which I’d grown accustomed is now null and void
my biography my views my desk my bed
and no longer did anyone know or remember what ink was
or what an inkwell was or good or bad
what the presence of happiness meant or the meaning of present
while the past and the future had long ceased to exist

house brussels my desk morning 1206.JPG



Karl Ove Knaussgaard on #spring

[A]t the beginning of April, mum went away for the weekend, to visit a friend in Oslo, and I was left alone at home…

The countryside had not yet emerged from the strange interlude between winter and spring when the fields are bare and wet, the sky is grey and the trees leafless, nothing in themselves, everything charged with what will be. Perhaps it has already started to happen, unseen in the darkness, for isn’t the air slowly warming up in the forest? Is there not scattered birdsong coming from the trees after these long months of silence, which had been broken only by the occasional hoarse screams of a crow or a magpie? Had spring not stolen in, like someone wanting to surprise their friends? Wasn’t it there, ready any day now to explode into a blaze of green, spewing out its leaves and insects everywhere?

That was the feeling I had, spring was in the offing. And perhaps that was why I was so restless. – Karl Ove Knaussgaard, Dancing in the dark (2010/tr. Don Bartlett 2015)

(After resisting for a few weeks, I’m back reading Knaussgaard. I thought this fourth volume of My Struggle was the last available in English, but I read at the weekend that the fifth has just come out. There’s the sixth to come, Don: don’t tarry.)

I don’t agree about winter trees being nothing in themselves. I like them like that. But I agree absolutely about how just now (assuming we are a month ahead of Norway) the demand for spring makes itself felt, even if the supply of spring, apart from winter bulbs and some odd dark blue croci, is limited to a sprig of flowers on the hawthorns and the flowering cherries.

It was 1˚ again this morning in Brussels. But still, we feel, we have a right to expect the spring.

Gorky Park 413 wrapped tree.jpg
(Gorky Park, Moscow, April 2013)