Poem of the Week, by Olav Hauge

My new poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

A couple of days ago I went looking in my files for a long poem by Li-Young Lee, two lines of which were haunting me. The poem popped up in a journal from twenty years ago, a journal I have no memory of keeping, and I spent the afternoon reading the entire thing. All the questions that bedeviled me then still bedevil me, and I ended up shrugging and thinking Well, I guess you’ve always been who you are, Alison.

That same day, a friend sent this beautiful poem. It felt familiar to me the way some poems do, as if you were born knowing them, so I went searching through my emails only to find that I’d sent it out as the Poem of the Week almost ten years ago. Another mental shrug. All the dreams we carry, and keep carrying.

This Is the Dream, by Olav Hauge, tr. by Robert Bly and Robert Hedin

This is the dream we carry through the world
that something fantastic will happen
that it has to happen
that time will open by itself
that doors shall open by themselves
that the heart will find itself open
that mountain springs will jump up
that the dream will open by itself
that we one early morning
will slip into a harbor
that we have never known.



(in  the original Norwegian)

DET ER DEN DRAUMEN 

Det er den draumen me ber på
at noko vedunderleg skal skje,
at det må skje —
at tidi skal opna seg
at hjarta skal opna seg
at dører skal opna seg
at berget skal opna seg
at kjeldor skal springa —
at draumen skal opna seg,
at me ei morgonstund skal glida
inn på ein våg me ikkje har visst um.


For more information about Olav Hauge, please click here.

alisonmcghee.com
Words by Winter: my new podcast

Poem of the Week, by Olav Hauge

IMG_1168Me to a roomful of high school students last week: “Raise a hand if you’ve lost someone you love to murder.”

Every hand went up.

Every hand. At least that’s how it looked to me, standing there. How do you make your way through something impossibly hard? That was the premise of our conversation, and the students took turns reading out loud from my novel What I Leave Behind, which is about exactly that. Impossible hardship is something these students are no strangers to. Institutionalized racism and sexism and poverty are all designed to keep a few people sitting pretty at the expense of so many, and one result is a roomful of children who have all watched loved ones die violently. 

I asked them how they coped. Some meditated. Some did yoga. Some cooked. Some listened to music. And every one of them seemed to make art: writing, painting, drawing, singing. They clearly understood the power of art, how you can use it to translate and transcend an impossible experience, push it out of you and at the same time absorb it. Art can keep you connected to others. These students are old souls, wise beyond their years. I got back to my hotel that night to find that a friend in Germany had sent me a poem that I’d forgotten, a poem I love. A poem that the minute I saw it felt like the poem to send in honor of these beautiful, powerful youth. We have to do better by them.

This Is the Dream, by Olav Hauge (translated by Robert Hedin and Robert Bly)

This is the dream we carry through the world
that something fantastic will happen
that it has to happen
that time will open by itself
that doors shall open by themselves
that the heart will find itself open
that mountain springs will jump up
that the dream will open by itself
that we one early morning
will slip into a harbor
that we have never known. 

For more information on Olav Hauge, please click here.
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