Three Poems

Agnar Artúvertin

The Protestant

From my first knowing, I knew
that I'd been born into the wrong country.
Mother, why couldn't you see it?

Where did this foreign sense come from
if not some strange country, frightening, yes,
but alluring also?

And the moontower through the open window —
after you had fallen asleep —
why did it grow, so enticingly grow?


Candles burn out. We act out
our dramas, empty bottles
of beer, sometimes do good
deeds — help the elderly
with street crossings —
but nothing ever changes.

Poem About the Body

The head isn't at issue here but the body: the body
which contains everything in its nerve and vein; the body
that swallows hell and earth wholly; the body
whose chemical lure tricks the mind into thinking; the body
which confounds the mazelogic of guinea pigs and rats; the body
where rests the roots of the poetic sublime; the body
of bodily experience from whence oozes all viscosities of the body —
semen, blood, bile, lymph, beauty too. It takes a body
conflating imagination and experience to make a body
of literature. So be grateful and worship the body.

translated from the Faroese by Matthew Landrum