January 1, 2009

Gunnar Ekelof

Gunnar Ekelöf [Sweden]
1907-1968

Born of a well to do Swedish family, Gunnar Ekelöf grew up feeling himself to be an outsider, in part because of his father's mental illness. As a young adult, he studied in London, Uppsala, and Paris, concentrating in music and Oriental culture. Upon returning from Paris, he published his first collection, Sent på jorden (Late on the Earth) in 1932, a work influenced by Parisian culture, most particularly Stravinsky's music. Today that work is considered the first truly modernist work of Swedish poetry, and is recognized internationally.

The following volumes continued were infused with Ekelöf's love of music, his own deep attraction to and speculation on death, and his interest. Non serviam of 1945 is one of the most significant of the works of these years, comparing the intellectual world with the metaphysical. And over the next decades, he continued to draw on these sources for poetry, Om hösten (In Fall) (1951), Strountes (Rubbish) (1955), and Opus incertum (Uncertain Work) (1959). He also wrote a long autobiographical poem En Mölna-elegi (1960).


In 1958, after having won most Scandinavian literary prizes, Ekelöf became a member of the Swedish Royal Academy.

BOOKS OF POETRY

Sent på jorden (Stockholm: Spekstrum, 1932); Dedikation (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1934); Sorgen och stjärnan (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1936); Köp den blindes sång (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1938); Färjesång (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1941); Non serviam (Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1945); Om hösten (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1951); Strountes (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1955); Dikter 1932-1951 (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1956); Opus incertum (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1959); En Mölna-elegi (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1960); En natt i Otocac (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1961); Sent på jorden, med Appendix 1962, och En natt vid horisonten (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1962); Diwan över Fursten av Emgión (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1965); Dikter (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1965); Sagan om Fatumeh (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1966); Vägvisare till underjorden (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1967); Lägga patience (1969); Urval: Dikter 1928-1968 (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1968); Partitur (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1969); En sjävlbiografi (prose and poetry) (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1971); En röst (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1973); Dikter 1965-1968 (Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag: 1976); Variationer (Lund: Ellerströms, 1986).

ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS

Late Arrival on Earth, trans. by Robert Bly and Christina Paulston (London: Rapp & Carroll, 1967; Washington: D.C.: The Charioteer Press, 1968); Selected Poems of Gunnar Ekelöf, trans. by Muriel Rukeyser and Leif Sjöberg (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1967); Selected Poems by Gunnar Ekelöf, trans. by W.H. Auden and Leif Sjöberg (New York: Pantheon Books, 1971); reprinted as Gunnar Ekelöf: Selected Poems (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1971); A Mölna Elegy, trans. by Muriel Rukeseyser and Leif Sjöberg (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1979; Greensboro, N.C.: Unicorn Press, 1984); Guide to the Underworld, trans. by Rika Lesser (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1980); Songs of Something Else, trans. by Leonard Nathan and James Larson (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1982); Friends, You Drank Some Darkness: Martinson, Ekelöf, and Tranströmer. Selected Poetry, trans. by Robert Bly (Boston: Beacon Press, 1984).


Sonata Form Denatured Prose

crush the alphabet between your teeth yawn vowels, the fire is burning in hell vomit and spit now or never I and dizziness you or never dizziness now or never.
we will begin over
crush the alphabet macadam and your teeth yawn vowels, the sweat runs in hell I am dying in the convolutions of my brain vomit now or never dizziness I and you. i and he she it. we will begin over. i and he she and it. we will begin over. i and he she it. we will begin over. i and he she it. scream and cry: it goes fast what tremendous speed in the sky and hell in my convolutions like madness in the sky dizziness. scream and cry: he is falling he has fallen. it was fine it went fast what tremendous speed in the sky and hell in my convolutions vomit now or never dizziness i and you. i and he she it. we will begin over. i and he she it. we will begin over. i and he she it. we will begin over. i and he she it.
we will begin over.
crush the alphabet between your teeth yawn vowels the fire is burning in hell vomit and split now or never i and dizziness you or never dizziness now or never.

Translated from the Swedish by Robert Bly and Christina Paulston

(from Sent på jorden, 1932)

1 comment:

Virginia Mallon-Ackermann said...

Great blog! I love this poem by Ekelof. "Crush the alphabet macadam and your teeth yawn vowels" that line alone is beautiful.