Ale’s Stones by Anders Österling

Where the coast falls between the sea and sky,
Ale has raised a giant ship of stone,
Fair in its setting, when bright ears of rye
To union with the block’s dark quiet have grown,
A saga put ashore
Beside the Baltic’s roar,
A mark with sense known to the sea alone.

In tight formation, these grey masses rise
On guard since ancient times: a haunted hill,
The story goes – where clash of arms and cries
(As from a camp) the autumn darkness fill.
In midst of farmer’s land,
Here Ale took command
On board death’s ship, the last to mind his will.

Great strength still keeps this hummock in its hold.
Iron bit on bronze, when these bold deeds were done.
The sea-kings’ vessel, gone aground in mold,
Sails on its voyage to oblivion.
With stone its prow is stayed,
Of cloud its sails are made,
Yet it’s kin to all free ships beneath the sun.

A brig slips, soundless on the misty blue,
Around the corner of the nearest stone,
Bound for the Skagerrak and Dover, it will do
A measured minute while this place sleeps on;
Yet none knows how to say
What in this silent play
Is passing now, and what to past has gone.

Glittering waves both ship and grave embrace,
A thousand years, a thousand miles go by,
And time exchanges its salutes with space,
And sails are swelled and stones in slumber lie,
And the meadow casts its bloom
Around the age-old tomb,
And larks sing out, and Skåne’s summers fly.

From: Schoolfield, George C., “Anders Österling: A Life for Literature” in World Literature Today, Vol. 55. No. 2, A Look at Chinese and African Letters (Spring, 1981), p. 243.
(http://www.jstor.org/stable/40135978)

Date: 1933 (original in Swedish); 1981 (translation in English)

By: Anders Österling (1884-1981)

Translated by: George C. Schoolfield (1925- )

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One Comment to “Ale’s Stones by Anders Österling”

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