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Antenna-forest -- Rolf Jacobsen

Guest poem submitted by Lars Marius Garshol:
(Poem #1719) Antenna-forest
 Up on the city's roofs there are large fields.
 That's where silence crept up to
 when there was no room for it on the streets.
 Now the forest comes in its turn.
 It needs to be where silence lives.
 Tree upon tree in strange groves.
 They don't do very well, because the floor is too hard.
 So they make a sparse forest, one branch toward the east,
 and one toward the west. Until it looks like crosses. A forest
 of crosses. And the wind asks
 - Who's resting here
 in these deep graves?
-- Rolf Jacobsen
        translated from the Norwegian by Roger Greenwald.

I've thought about submitting a guest poem for a long time, but never really
felt that there was much need, since other people cover so much interesting
stuff. Today, however, it struck me that there is at least one interesting
poem I know of that is probably much too obscure for anyone else to submit.

It's by Rolf Jacobsen, perhaps *the* major Norwegian poet of the latter half
of the 20th century. This translation is from "North in the World", a
selection translated to English by Roger Greenwald.  Unfortunately, it's not
nearly as good in English, although I could do nothing to improve the
translation myself.

It sounds like there's a narrator speaking the poem; some wry, melancholy
character, grieving for all the things we city dwellers have lost, and
perhaps also those of us who are ourselves lost in the city. The use of
man-made structures as metaphors for natural things like trees and forests
just reinforces the point.

I also like the simple, colloquial style, where the lines almost shine with
poetic beauty in a way that makes you wonder where the beauty in phrases you
could have said yourself comes from. (This is the part that doesn't come
across as well in English, sadly.) The style reminds me of Robert Frost, but
not so dressed-up, perhaps.

--
Lars Marius Garshol

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