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Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal, Mexico

Monday, February 1

Erik Axel Karlfeldt - The Unknown (Swedish-English Translation)

The Unknown

She was standing beside the stile
with summer heat
on her light-brown neck, a sprightly young girl.
She leaned on her arm against the disorderly fence,
and her cool, silky cheeks glowed
under the heat of july and anxious longing.

He was walking on the path
among rice and lumber
with singing steps, a cheerful boy.
His sight shone warmly for a second on the girl,
but without a word or greeting he went his way
over the ridge, into the bog.

But the girl threw 
her gaze, which pressed
sharply among the thickets where he had disappeared.
"Escape further gladly into the desert,
stupid boy! You have neither
courage in your heart* or a language in your mouth."

*"En hönas mod", literally "the courage of a hen", is a very old and childish expression similar to the English "being a chicken", or the Spanish "ser una gallina", that is, being a coward. The Swedish has the opposite meaning.


Hon stod vid stättan 
med sommarhättan 
på ljusbrun nacke, den käcka jäntan. 
Mot skäggigt gärdsel hon armen stödde, 
och friska, fjuniga kinder glödde 
av julihetta och ivrig väntan. 

Han kom på stråten 
bland ris och bråten 
med steg som sjöngo, den muntre gossen. 
Varm sken hans blick en sekund mot flickan, 
men utan ord eller hälsning gick han 
bort över åsen och ned mot mossen. 

Men flickan slängde 
en blick, som trängde 
vasst in bland snår, där han var försvunnen. 
"Löp gärna innerst i ödemarken, 
din dumma pojke! Du har ju varken 
en hönas mod eller mål i munnen."