No more, you thought, could it stare back at you

Two poems by Allan Popa translated from Filipino by Mabi David and the author.

Mabi David                  Allan Popa



by Allan Popa

Hindi punyal hindi krusipiho ang hawak mo

nanggigigil na kinakaskas sa ilalim ng kaldero kahit


walang nasisimot kundi ang ngilong tinutugon

ng ungol sakal ng kadenang-asong nakatanikala sa iyo.


Anong pangangailangan pa ang nagpapalubay

sa iyong kapit upang haplusin siya sa noo, malupit


na kamay na malugod niyang inaabot upang basain  

ng dila na minsang nahuling dumidila sa kanyang


ari: matalim mo siyang tinitigan upang pahiyain.

Hindi na niya makakayang harapin


ang iyong tingin. Sa iyo siya nakatingin.





by Allan Popa

Neither crucifix nor knife

what you scrape against the pot’s bottom.


You scrape up nothing, not

a scrap off it, only a grating screech


to which the dog whines, choking at

the leash chained to you. Out of what need


would you loosen your grip to pet

its forehead? It licked your hand.


Once you caught it feverishly licking its own

sex and fixed on it, staring it into shame.


No more, you thought, could it stare

back at you. It stares back at you.



translated from Filipino by Mabi David & Allan Popa


by Allan Popa

Malalasap pagbigkas ng baboy kung bakit baboy

ang mababasaging alkansiyang hindi nagawang


mapabigat bagamat matabang-mataba sa iyong palad.


Pinakinggan mo ang pag-alog sa kahungkagan

ng iilang sensilyong naihulog sa mabintog na tiyan,


tiningala’t sinilip ang dilim sa napakakitid na butas. 


Matatandaang ito ang gulang ng pagtuklas ng sarap

sa pagtuklap ng langib ng papahilom na sugat.


Nakapaglalaway, nakapangingiwi ng mga labi


ang pagsungkit, pagkupit ng pilak mula sa sarili

na mariing maikukuyom sa nangangati mong palad.


Malalasap pagbigkas ng baboy kung bakit baboy.





by Allan Popa

Savor as you say the word pig, why

it is a pig, this coin bank


you cannot for all its size make heavy.


You listen as you jangle the handful inside

its hollow distended belly, the teats you tilt


to peer past the chink into the dark,


remembering when you first discovered

what pleasure picking on a scab gave you.


You bite your lip to hold the drool in.


You try to snatch at the shiny silver, picking

your own pockets for all that you can


hog, and savor why, as you say the word, pig.




translated from Filipino by Mabi David & Allan Popa

…but any clever man is half a crook

Two excerpts from “Too Clever by Half” by Alexander Griboyedov translated by Betsy Hulick.

“Too Clever by Half” (usually called “Woe from Wit”) is a verse comedy by Alexander Griboyedov, a contemporary of Pushkin’s. It is a Russian classic. The plot is simple: Chatsky, after a three-year absence, returns to Moscow. He is in love with Sophie, who is carrying on a clandestine love affair with her father’s secretary, Molchalin, a careerist upstart who, in turn, fancies Liza, Sophie’s maid. Chatsky’s sharp social observations and contempt for the man she secretly loves leads her to circulate a scurrilous remour at a ball, that Chatsky is mad. Chatsky uncover’s Sophie’s betrayal and Sophie is disabused of her lover’s character. In the end, her father, Famusov, mistakes their showdown for a tryst, and fires off against them both. He has the last words of the play, “What will Princess Maria say?” indicating the social life of the period will settle back to its stultifying normal.

                                                                                                      —Betsy Hulick

[Зови меня вандалом:]

by Alexander Griboyedov


                                Зови меня вандалом:
        Я это имя заслужил.
        Людьми пустыми дорожил!
Сам бредил целый век обедом или балом!
Об детях забывал! обманывал жену!
Играл! проигрывал! в опеку взят указом!
     Танцовщицу держал! и не одну:
                             Трех разом!
Пил мертвую! не спал ночей по девяти!
     Всё отвергал: законы! совесть! веру!


        Послушай! ври, да знай же меру;
        Есть от чего в отчаянье прийти.



                           * * * * *



    Да из чего беснуетесь вы столько?


Шумим, братец, шумим…


                                        Шумите вы? и только?


Не место объяснять теперь и недосуг,
        Но государственное дело:
        Оно, вот видишь, не созрело,
            Нельзя же вдруг.
Что за люди! mon cher! Без дальних я историй
     Скажу тебе: во-первых, князь Григорий!!
Чудак единственный! нас со́ смеху морит!
Век с англичанами, вся а́нглийская складка,
     И так же он сквозь зубы говорит,
И так же коротко обстрижен для порядка.
     Ты не знаком? о! познакомься с ним.
        Другой — Воркулов Евдоким,
     Ты не слыхал, как он поет? о! диво!
        Послушай, милый, особливо
     Есть у него любимое одно:
«А! нон лашьяр ми, но, но, но»  2.
        Еще у нас два брата:
Левон и Боринька, чудесные ребята!
Об них не знаешь что сказать;
Но если гения прикажете назвать:
     Удушьев Ипполит Маркелыч!!!
     Ты сочинения его
     Читал ли что-нибудь? хоть мелочь?
Прочти, братец, да он не пишет ничего;
     Вот эдаких людей бы сечь-то,
И приговаривать: писать, писать, писать;
В журналах можешь ты однако отыскать
     Его отрывок, взгляд и нечто.
     Об чем бишь нечто? — обо всем;
Все знает, мы его на черный день пасем.
Но голова у нас, какой в России нету,
Не надо называть, узнаешь по портрету:
     Ночной разбойник, дуэлист,
В Камчатку сослан был, вернулся алеутом,
     И крепко на руку нечист;
Да умный человек не может быть не плутом.
Когда ж об честности высокой говорит,
     Каким-то демоном внушаем:
     Глаза в крови, лицо горит,
     Сам плачет, и мы все рыдаем.
Вот люди, есть ли им подобные? Навряд…
Ну, между ими я, конечно, зауряд,
Немножко поотстал, ленив, подумать ужас!
Однако ж я, когда, умишком понатужась,
     Засяду, часу не сижу,
И как-то невзначай, вдруг каламбур рожу,
Другие у меня мысль эту же подцепят,
И вшестером, глядь, водевильчик слепят,
Другие шестеро на музыку кладут,
Другие хлопают, когда его дают.
     Брат, смейся, а что любо, любо:
Способностями бог меня не наградил,
Дал сердце доброе, вот чем я людям мил,
     Совру — простят…


[Call me a barbarian!]

"Too Clever by Half," Act IV

by Alexander Griboyedov

Chatsky, about to leave the ball, is buttonholed by Repetilov (pronounced Repetílov). In Russian there are two verbs for “to lie,” one to lie out and out, the other to fabricate. Repetilov is that uniquely Russian type  who flies into a sort of ecstasy when lying.



            Call me a barbarian!

For vicious living I’m your man.

I’ve traveled in an idle, worthless set,

been mad for balls, the whirl of social life,

ignored my children, cheated on my wife,

gambled recklessly, piled debt on top of debt,

defaulted on a mortgage, ruined my best friend,

kept a ballerina, no, not one, but three,

and kept them simultaneously.

went drunk and missing for a fortnight,

set conscience, law, religion all on end.

I tell you—



                       Your lies are out of sight.

Lie of course, but exercise restraint.

Yours would make the stoutest heart grow faint.


                                    And later, in a parody of liberal secret societies:



But why get so worked up? What for?



To stir the pot, to stir the pot, mon cher!



To stir the pot? Nothing more?



Now’s no time or place to give an explanation.

I can only tell you it’s a state affair;

we’re in the early stages of our preparation.

Such men! In short, Prince Gregory, for one,

Eccentric? Funny? There’s no comparison!

A dedicated Anglophile:

clips his vowels, crops his hair,

You haven’t met him? Wait awhile,

you will. Let’s see: Who else is there?

Eudókimus Vorkúlov: What a singing voice!

Ah, Non lashiarmi no no no!

That’s his aria of choice.

Then Boris and his brother, Leo,

splendid fellows,  say no more.

But if it’s genius that you’re looking for,

Udúshev, Ípolit Markélich—he’s your man.

You must have read him once upon a time.

I used to be his biggest fan.

No new work for ages! It’s a crime!

Flog these idlers—it will serve them right—

and sentence them to write, write, write!

He’s published articles still widely read

in reprint: Shards. Envision. Nought.

What is Nought about? Better left unsaid.

How much he knows! And all of it self-taught.

We’re keeping him for when the time is ripe.

Our leader is a Russian without peer.

Why name him when his portrait makes it clear

just who he is, a dueling, fractious type;

was exiled to Kamchatka, trekked a thousand miles

returning via the Aleutian Isles.

Some skeletons, no player by the book,

but any clever man is half a crook.

When nobility of soul or honor is addressed,

his flaming cheeks and bloodshot eyes

clothe him in the aspect of a man possessed.

He breaks out weeping, and the whole room cries.

Where are people to be found like these?

Among them all, no mediocrities

except myself—a lazy dog, not up to snuff.

But I’ve been known, when thinking hard enough,

to come up with a genial pun or turn of phrase

to turn into a vaudeville: six will write the verse,

another six compose, another six rehearse

and all the rest supply applause and praise.

You laugh, but brother, we enjoy ourselves, we do!

My heart is good, if my abilities are few,


that’s why I’m liked, why I’m forgiven for my lies!

translated from Russian by Betsy Hulick

[Вы помиритесь с ним, по размышленьи зрелом. ]

by Alexander Griboyedov

Вы помиритесь с ним, по размышленьи зрелом.
     Себя крушить, и для чего!
Подумайте, всегда вы можете его
Беречь, и пеленать, и спосылать за делом.
Муж-мальчик, муж-слуга, из жениных пажей —
Высокий идеал московских всех мужей. —
Довольно!.. с вами я горжусь моим разрывом.
А вы, суда́рь отец, вы, страстные к чинам:
Желаю вам дремать в неведеньи счастливом,
Я сватаньем моим не угрожаю вам.
     Другой найдется благонравный,
     Низкопоклонник и делец,
     Достоинствами наконец
     Он будущему тестю равный.
     Так! отрезвился я сполна,
Мечтанья с глаз долой — и спала пелена;
        Теперь не худо б было сряду
     На дочь и на отца
        И на любовника-глупца,
И на весь мир излить всю желчь и всю досаду.
С кем был! Куда меня закинула судьба!
Все гонят! все клянут! Мучителей толпа,
В любви предателей, в вражде неутомимых,
     Рассказчиков неукротимых,
Нескладных умников, лукавых простяков,
     Старух зловещих, стариков,
Дряхлеющих над выдумками, вздором, —
Безумным вы меня прославили всем хором.
Вы правы: из огня тот выйдет невредим,
     Кто с вами день пробыть успеет,
     Подышит воздухом одним,
     И в нем рассудок уцелеет.
Вон из Москвы! сюда я больше не ездок.
Бегу, не оглянусь, пойду искать по свету,
Где оскорбленному есть чувству уголок! —
        Карету мне, карету!


[You’ll make it up with him, once you’ve thought it over—]

"Too Clever by Half," Act IV

by Alexander Griboyedov

In the denouement, Sophie learns her love for Molchalin is deluded, and Chatsky learns that Sophie started the rumor he was mad: In Griboyedov’s own words, he “spits in her face and everyone else’s” and takes off.



You’ll make it up with him, once you’ve thought it over—

He trumps a future with all hope removed.

Imagine what a prize you’ll get,

an errand boy,  domestic pet

to stroke and coddle, Moscow’s

picture of the ideal spouse.

Enough! This break restores my pride.

But you, sir, father-of-the- bride,

with your fine appreciation

for degrees of rank and station,

may you enjoy the blissful ease

of wanton ignorance, now and ever:

I’ve no intention whatsoever

of offering for your daughter’s hand.

Another who can’t fail to please,

underhanded, smooth and bland,

with all a toady’s fawning qualities

has that honor. He will do you proud!

There! I’m sane! No dreams becloud

my reason. I’ve nothing more to lose!

It’s their turn now to suffer the abuse

they turned on me—father, daughter,

witless lover—I’ll pour  my bitterness

and gall on each of them in order,

on all the world, and its maliciousness!

Where was I thrown up by fate:

What people was I cast among?

A hateful mob, eager to calumniate:

the spinster with a spiteful tongue,

the evil-minded reprobate,

the denigrator, cutting down to size,

the clever parasite, self-regarding fool,

tittering maidens scarcely out of school,

decrepit graybeards, feeding off of lies—

all declared me mad, in one concerted choir.

And right they were. Take it for a fact:

A man could pass unharmed through fire

who spent a day with them and kept his mind intact.

Farewell to Moscow, to its days and nights!

I’m off to search the wide world round

for somewhere I can go to ground

and set insulted sense to rights.

My carriage! Bring my carriage round!

translated from Russian by Betsy Hulick

keeping secrets, plotting murder,

Two Old English poems translated by Elijah John Petzold

These two Old English poem come from the Exeter Book, a hefty codex which preserves a large proportion of the Old English corpus. I’ve given them new names, drawn from phrases repeated in each poem. The traditional titles assigned to them—“The Wife’s Lament” and “The Husband’s Message”—suggest a parallelism not supported by the text: there’s no explicit connection between the poems, and the narratives, vague as they are, don’t seem to match up. As with several other Old English elegies, they do, however, describe feelings of love, loss, and longing across watery expanses. As both poems present significant interpretive issues, I’ve highlighted some particularly challenging elements. 

beneath an oak (The Wife’s Lament)

            The nebulous narrative of this poem has stumped generations of Anglo-Saxonists. Although elaborate theories abound, there’s nothing close to scholarly consensus on what exactly is going on. It’s clear enough that here a female speaker laments a tumultuous romantic past, but the sequence, location, and causality of the events remain murky. First, the beloved disappears, but then, we are told, his family connives to keep them apart. It’s unclear whether their scheming led to the beloved’s departure in the first place, or whether they took advantage of his departure to reinforce their separation. No sooner do we hear about the family, however, than they are out of the poem entirely, but it seems that the speaker has gone in search of her beloved and finds him changed: morose and murderous. He imprisons her in the earthen cave from which she tells her story, suggesting perhaps that he has murdered and buried her, leaving her waking ghost to mourn. I’m not entirely convinced of this, nor of any other theory that claims to conclusively explain the text beyond what is actually said. Although translation necessarily privileges some readings over others, I’ve tried to leave narrative possibilities open, rendering a poem that feels fragmentary, abrupt, elliptical: a long, traumatic memory distorted and elided by time and repetition.

in days gone by (The Husband’s Message)

            Interpreting this poem hinges on two related questions: who is speaking?, and what is the function of the runes? I’m quite certain our speaker is a piece of wood inscribed with runes, delivering a coded message to an absent lover. More than ninety verse riddles are interspersed throughout the Exeter Book, generally written in the voice of the riddle’s solution: an animal or inanimate object. The riddle immediately preceding the “The Husband’s Message” speaks of an object that talks without a mouth, is carved by a knife and a “prince’s mind,” and passes on a message that no one else can understand. “Rune-staff” seems the obvious answer. The riddle illuminates (and perhaps anticipates) “The Husband’s Message,” particularly the cryptic runic sign-off. The runes read S, R, EA, W, and M, but these don’t render any name or word. The runes’ names may provide a clue: Sigel, “sun”; Rad, “ride/path”; Ear, “earth” or “sea”; Wynn, “joy”; and Mann, “man/human.” Runologist Ralph Elliott has us construe these ideas together to find the epitome of the poem: “Follow the sun’s path south across the ocean to find joy with the man who is waiting for you.”[1] Tempting though it seems, I’m not inclined to presume anything. By design, the runes are untranslatable except to the lovers, whose private oaths of love in bygone days decipher the code.

—Elijah John Petzold


[Ic þis giedd wrece yes bi me ful geomorre,]

Ic þis giedd wrece yes bi me ful geomorre,

minre sylfre sið. Ic þæt secgan mæg,

hwæt ic yrmþa gebad, siþþan ic up aweox,

niwes oþþe ealdes, no ma þonne nu.

A ic wite wonn minra wræcsiþa.


Ærest min hlaford gewat heonan of leodum

ofer yþa gelac; hæfde ic uhtceare

hwær min leodfruma londes wære.

Ða ic me feran gewat folgað secan,

wineleas wræcca, for minre weaþearfe.


Ongunnon þæt þæs monnes magas hycgan

þurh dyrne geþoht, þæt hy todælden unc,

þæt wit gewidost in woruldrice

lifdon laðlicost, ond mec longade.


Het mec hlaford min her eard niman,

ahte ic leofra lyt on þissum londstede,

holdra freonda. Forþon is min hyge geomor.

Ða ic me ful gemæcne monnan funde,

heardsæligne, hygegeomorne,

mod miþendne, morþor hycgendne

bliþe gebæro. Ful oft wit beotedan

þæt unc ne gedælde nemne deað ana

owiht elles; eft is þæt onhworfen.

Is nu swa hit næfre wære

freondscipe uncer. Sceal ic feor ge neah

mines felaleofan fæhðu dreogan.


Heht mec mon wunian on wuda bearwe,

under actreo in þam eorðscræfe.

Eald is þes eorðsele, eal ic eom oflongad.


Sindon dena dimme, duna uphea,

bitre burgtunas, brerum beweaxne,

wic wynna leas. Ful oft mec her wraþe begeat

fromsiþ frean. Frynd sind on eorþan,

leofe lifgende, leger weardiað,

þonne ic on uhtan ana gonge

under actreo geond þas eorðscrafu

þær ic sittan mot sumorlangne dæg,

þær ic wepan mæg mine wræcsiþas,

earfoþa fela; forþon ic æfre ne mæg

þære modceare minre gerestan,

ne ealles þæs longaþes þe mec on þissum life begeat.


A scyle geong mon wesan geomormod,

heard heortan geþoht, swylce habban sceal

bliþe gebæro, eac þon breostceare,

sinsorgna gedreag. Sy æt him sylfum gelong

eal his worulde wyn, sy ful wide fah

feorres folclondes, þæt min freond siteð

under stanhliþe storme behrimed,

wine werigmod, wætre beflowen

on dreorsele. Dreogeð se min wine

micle modceare; he gemon to oft

wynlicran wic. Wa bið þam þe sceal

of langoþe leofes abidan.



beneath an oak

The Wife’s Lament

here’s a sad one about

where i’ve been. listen:

life’s been rough, but

never worse than now.

every step stings.


first he left, slipped to

sea. i worried watching dawn,

wondering where he went.

duty called. i followed,

left. lack exiled me.


his kin conspired,

darkly, to keep us

worlds apart.

and i longed.


he made me move here.

i have no friends—nothing

but a heavy heart.

mister right, i found,

was troubled, glum,

keeping secrets, plotting murder,

smiling. we swore

nothing—only death—

could divide us. it’s all fucked now.

it’s like it never happened—

our friendship. he hates me

—my love—wherever i go.


he sent me to the woods,

to a cave beneath an oak,

an old clay hall. and i long.


mountains climb, dimming valleys;

weeds seize towns left

empty. his absence

cripples me. the world’s lovers

live and sleep together

while i pace before dawn alone

in a cave beneath an oak,

where i sit summer-long days,

crying over

everything. worry 

keeps me up,

and longing, all this longing.


he’ll always be sad,

callous. maybe

he smiles, still he suffers—

always. whether

he has what he wants

or drifts outlawed, (i bet)

my old friend sits,

dreary, under rimed cliffs

in a flooded hall, tired. yes,

he suffers, remembering days

in the city. woe to those

who long for love.

translated from Old English by Elijah John Petzold


[Nu ic onsundran þe secgan wille]

Nu ic onsundran þe secgan wille

…… treocyn ic tudre aweox;

in mec æld… sceal ellor londes

settan…… sealte streamas

…sse. Ful oft ic on bates


þær mec mondryhten min……

ofer heah hafu. Eom nu her cumen

on ceolþele, ond nu cunnan scealt

hu þu ymb modlufan mines frean

on hyge hycge. Ic gehatan dear

þæt þu þær tirfæste treowe findest.


Hwæt, þec þonne biddan het se þisne beam agrof

þæt þu sinchroden sylf gemunde

on gewitlocan wordbeotunga,

þe git on ærdagum oft gespræcon,

þenden git moston on meoduburgum

eard weardigan, an lond bugan,

freondscype fremman. Hine fæhþo adraf

of sigeþeode. Heht nu sylfa þe

lustum læran þæt þu lagu drefde,

siþþan þu gehyrde on hliþes oran

galan geomorne geac on bearwe.

Ne læt þu þec siþþan siþes getwæfan,

lade gelettan lifgendne monn.

Ongin mere secan, mæwes eþel,

onsite sænacan, þæt þu suð heonan

ofer merelade monnan findest,

þær se þeoden is þin on wenum.


Ne mæg him worulde willa mara

on gemyndum, þæs þe he me sægde,

þonne inc geunne alwaldend god

þæt git ætsomne siþþan motan

secgum ond gesiþum s…

næglede beagas; he genoh hafað

fædan goldes …

geond elþeode eþel healde,

fægre foldan   …….

holdra hæleþa, þeah þe her min wine…….

nyde gebæded, nacan ut aþrong,

ond on yþa gelagu ana sceolde

faran on flotweg, forðsiþes georn,

mengan merestreamas. Nu se mon hafað

wean oferwunnen; nis him wilna gad,

ne meara ne maðma ne meododreama,

ænges ofer eorþan eorlgestreona,

þeodnes dohtor, gif he þin beneah.


Ofer eald gebeot incer twega,

gehyre ic ætsomne .ᛋ.ᚱ. geador

ᛠ.ᚹ. ond .ᛗ. aþe benemnan,

þæt he þa wære ond þa winetreowe

be him lifgendum læstan wolde,

þe git on ærdagum oft gespræconn.

in days gone by

The Husband's Message

now i’ll speak to you, apart.

i’m a twig, sprig, tree’s kid.

a man’s son somewhere else

set words on me, sent me

over salty streams. in boat’s

breast, i go

where my lord sends me,

across the deep. now i’m here,

off the ship, to hear,

in your heart’s heart, do you love

my lord? you’ll find—i dare swear—

faith rooted deeply there.


he carved this wood and had me bid

you, bejeweled, open thought’s box,

remember oaths

sworn in days gone by,

when you called the city home,

lived in one place, had your

friendship. bad blood

banished him. now follow him

—i’m to say—row ripples

when you hear cuckoo sing,

sad in the hillside grove.

let no one, no living soul,

change your path, check your course.

seek the sea, gulls’ domain,

board a ship ’til you find

your prince, south

overseas, expecting you.


he has one wish

—he told me so—nothing more:

that god almighty bring

you together,

sharing gifts, spangled rings

among friends. he has enough

polished gold.

he found home abroad,

good land,

and friends, but arrived

needy. eager, he launched,

into stormy seas,

followed ships’ road alone:

oars whisked seas. his woe’s now

done. he’ll lack nothing

noble in the world

—horses, cash, joy—

if he’s with you, princess.


about those old vows between you,

i think ᛋ with ᚱ, along with

ᛠ, ᚹ, and ᛗ swear this oath:

long as he lives, he’ll keep

love’s vows and oaths

sworn in days gone by.

translated from Old English by Elijah John Petzold

[1]Ralph W.V. Elliott,  Runes: An Introduction (Manchester, UK: Manchester UP, 1989), 90.

Finally then—but not until then

Two poems by Bragi Ólafsson translated by K. T. Billey


by Bragi Ólafsson

Loks þá – en ekki

fyrr en þá – í lok sumars,

þegar gröfurnar, sagirnar, borarnir og há-

þrýstidælurnar voru þagnaðar,


var hægt að fara út í garð

og setjast niður, eins og

upphaflega hafði staðið til

þegar við keyptum húsið. En þá var þegar


tekið að glitta í haustið,

sólin ekki eins hátt á lofti

og í byrjun júní,

þegar borarnir fóru af stað, þegar gröfunum


var ekið inn í garðana í nágrenninu,

sagirnar ræstar og háþrýsti

dælurnar stilltar

á hæstu stillingu.

The Silence

by Bragi Ólafsson

Finally then—but not

until then—at the end of summer,

when the excavators, saws, drills and high-pressure

pumps were silenced,


were we able to go out in the yard

and sit down, as we had

originally planned

when we bought the house. But then already


fall was beginning to settle in,

the sun not as high in the air

as in early June,

when the drills were switched on, and excavators


driven into the neighboring yards,

saws started up and high-pressure

pumps set

on the highest setting.

translated from Icelandic by K. T. Billey


by Bragi Ólafsson

Skip siglir frá landi.

Það fjarlægist eins og maður fjarlægist

mann: það verður minna

en það var


þegar það lá við höfnina,

og alltaf minna og minna

eftir því sem höfnin stækkar

og himinninn þrengir að því.


Svo lítið er það orðið

þegar hafsröndin mætir því

að hafi það haft einhverja von

er sú orusta töpuð – og það sekkur.

The Deep

by Bragi Ólafsson

A ship sails from land.

It moves away like people drift

apart: it becomes smaller

than it was


when it lay in the harbour,

and smaller and smaller still

as the harbour expands

and the sky narrows in.


So little has it become

when it meets the horizon

that if it ever had any hope

that battle is lost—and it sinks.

translated from Icelandic by K. T. Billey