Week 251: Et År er Gått, by Arnulf Øverland

The Norwegian poet Arnulf Øverland (1889-1968) reminds me somewhat of A.E.Housman: the same clarity and formal control giving a quality of chiselled memorability. I would like to know more about the background to this poem: I am guessing that Beate (three syllables) was a child, but whether the poet’s own or not I don’t know.

The translation that follows is my own.

Et År er Gått

Et år er gått, Beate,
Det vet du ikke av.
Der gikk en solløs sommer hen.
Beate, det er høst igjen.
Her står jeg ved din grav.

Hvor tyst må natten vaere
der intet mere finnes,
og når vi ikke minnes
og intet minnes mere.

Du vilde gjerne leve,
men mørket favner om din sjel.
Gud vandret over jorden
Og helt tilfeldig trådte
Han på dig med sin hæl.

Et år er gått, Beate.
Det strømmer, tidens golde hav.
Det liv du fikk forlate,
Fikk jeg for meget av.

Arnulf Øverland

A Year has Passed

A year has passed, Beate,
That you know nothing of.
I watch a sunless summer wane.
Beate, autumn’s come again.
I stand here by your grave.

How quiet it must be, that night,
When all that happens is no more,
With nothing to remember now
Nor memory of things before.

How glad you would have been to live,
But in the dark your soul was shut.
God wandered over land and sea
And as he went quite casually
He trod you underfoot.

A year has passed, Beate.
Onwards it streams, time’s golden sea,
That granted you too little life
And left too much for me.


2 thoughts on “Week 251: Et År er Gått, by Arnulf Øverland

    • Thanks; the translation may be a little bit free in places – the usual compromise between literality and capturing the spirit.

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