Read the original in Danish
Read translator’s note
Jens August Schade (1903-78) was a Danish writer who published his first collection in 1926 (the living violin/den levende violin) to be followed by more than twenty-five other volumes, including poetry, novels, plays and travel books. In 1985 Curbstone Press published his Selected Poems, translated by Alexander Taylor, and in 1999, his collected poems appeared from Gyldendal Publishers (Schades Digte/Schade's Poems). At first neglected because of the strong erotic themes of his poems, Schade was for more than fifty years a prominent figure in the Copenhagen literary world and brown-bar life, together with his "muses" — the many girls he loved.
Thomas E. Kennedy has published thirty books, including novels, story and essay collections, literary criticism and translations, most recently the first two novels of his Copenhagen Quartet from Bloomsbury in the U.S. and the U.K. (Falling Sideways, 2011, and In the Company of Angels, 2010). This year, Getting Lucky: 20 New & Selected Stories, 1982-2012 will appear from New American Press. His translations from the Danish are regularly published in such journals as American Poetry Review, Agni, Absinthe, Ecotone, Epoch, New Letters, Poet Lore, Poetry Wales and elsewhere. This is his website.
Shortly after a young Jens August Schade moved from mid-Jutland to Copenhagen, he abandoned his study of economics in favor of poetry and a bohemian life style in the Danish capital. His 1926 debut collection, the living violin/den levende violin, subtitled spiritual and sensual songs, identified his dominant theme of erotics and sensuality as the core of life and of his poetry. Two of the three poems included here are from that book. As Danish poet and critic Poul Borum points out there is no duality in the subtitle of the collection, body and soul are one to Schade who the critic describes as "a happy Baudelaire."
We see the erotic surrealism — or surrealistic erotics — throughout the poet's work, be it a levitating painter in an inner city bar —
The painter dances singing in a beer bass
about all the great earth at Café Nick
in Copenhagen — and gaily fly the wild
angels forth who love his lovely trick.
— ('The Painter Dances'), or the magic evoked by a song on the juke box —
And to everyone's surprise
I move the chair away beneath me
and keep sitting on the air . . .
in the latter case dancing in the air with "a girl with ugly teeth" while their souls kiss . . .
Schade's poetry speaks best for itself — in bright, clear images — but there is precious little of it available in English; Curbstone Press published his Selected Poems (translated by Alexander Taylor) in 1985, but that too is out of print.
What the world needs now, in this blue-nosed time, is more of Schade's poetry!
Thanks to Gyldendal Publishers for permission to reprint these poems in English translation and the original Danish.
(note and translated excerpts by Thomas E. Kennedy)
Borum, Paul, Danish Literature. Copenhagen, Det Danske Selskab, 1979
Kennedy, Thomas E., Kerrigan’s Copenhagen, A Love Story. Galway: Wynkin de Worde, 2002 (soon to be published in an updated edition by Bloomsbury USA and London)
Wikipedia and Det Store Danske (Gyldendals open encyklopædia) entries for Jens August Schade