Kain / Cain

by Cecil Bødker ● translated by Michael Goldman

Det er dig der har gjort det.
Skyggen af dine hænders værk
er over dit ansigt,
og netop fordi du spreder
din onde samvittigheds glohede sten
på grønjorden om dig
vil du brænde under fødderne
når du går.

Det vil ryge af græsset.
Du kan ikke gemme dig,
for sandhedens sorte askepletter
er sporet af dine hæle,
og dine formørkede øjne
vil åbne jorden omkring dig,
stivnede læber vil forme
dit navn.

Det er dig der har gjort det.
Ingen ved det endnu
men æselkæbens mærke
er på din pande
og dine hænders blodige viden
vil ikke begraves.
Stene i græsset.
Kun løgnen vil huse din frygt.


It was you who did it.
The shadow of your handiwork
is on your face,
and since you spread
the hot glowing stones of your evil conscience
on the green earth around you
your feet will burn
as you walk.

Smoke will rise from the grass.
You cannot hide,
for your heels are trailing
the black ash-stains of truth,
and your darkened eyes
will open the earth around you,
stiffened lips will form
your name.

It was you who did it.
No one knows it yet
but the mark of the ass’s jawbone
is upon your forehead
and your hands’ bloody witness
cannot be buried.
Stoning in the grass.
Only the lie will house your fear.

Musical composition by Victor D. Sandiego

Cecil Bødker (born 1927) is one of contemporary Denmark’s most highly awarded and prolific female authors. She has written 59 books including poetry, novels for children and adults, short stories and plays.   Translations of Bødker’s poetry have appeared in Northwest Review of Books and Exchanges, Univ of Iowa.  Best known for her young-adult fiction books, in 1976 she received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Writing for her lasting contribution to children’s literature.  In 1998 she was awarded the Grand Prize of the Danish Academy for her body of work as a writer.

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Michael Goldman taught himself Danish on a pig farm in Denmark over 30 years ago to help him win the heart of a lovely Danish girl. Over 100 of Goldman’s translations of poetry and prose have appeared in more than 30 literary journals such as Rattle, World Literature Today, and International Poetry Review.  His translations of Bødker’s novels Stories about Tacit and The Water Farm were recently published by Spuyten Duyvil Press. He lives in Florence, Mass.

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2 comments refresh

By Victor D. Sandiego on Nov 16, 2017 17:50 (UTC)

I love the depth and darkness of this piece. And Michael's reading really brings it to life. There's always something extra when you're able to hear how the author (or in this case, the translator) interprets the piece. Many thanks Cecil and Michael.

By Julie on Nov 19, 2017 19:57 (UTC)

Very nice reading!! Thank you lovely poem dark and deep and your voice is wonderful