|Karin Boye around 1940|
Ja visst gör det ont
Ja visst gör det ont när knoppar brister. Varför skulle annars våren tveka? Varför skulle all vår heta längtan bindas i det frusna bitterbleka? Höljet var ju knoppen hela vintern. Vad är det för nytt, som tär och spränger? Ja visst gör det ont när knoppar brister, ont för det som växer och det som stänger.
Or in English
Yes, of course it hurts
Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking.
Why else would the springtime falter?
Why would all our ardent longing
bind itself in frozen, bitter pallor?
After all, the bud was covered all the winter.
What new thing is it that bursts and wears?
Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking,
hurts for that which grows
and that which bars.
Or listen to this little clip with her own voice.
Though it's hard to translate her voice, it's quite unique. Her use of metaphors and consistent rhythm (or beat) at the same time using rhymes that never obscure the meaning is quite unique in Swedish Poetry. She used simple words and her poems were often short and precise. Fortunately they are all available online at a karinboye.se, and many of her poems are also available in translations (English and German).
She was famous already during her life-time and was on the verge on an international success with her a novel Kallocain: a dystopian book that complements the vision of totalitarian state with that of Orwell and Huxley. It is translated to English but quite hard to find I think.
She died after a suicide with sleeping pills, and many still think that it was the developments in Europe that was the cause. In reality as is often is the case, it was unrequited love. Karin was bi-sexual and lived in a lesbian relationship at a time when it was prohibited in Sweden. Her insight into this forbidden side of herself is quite apparent in her earlier poems.
She was also active leftist and worked actively for Clarté a Marxist newspaper, but toward the end of her life she was also disillusioned with the totalitarian side of Communism. There is much more to read about her in Wikipedia.
Today, if you feel up to it, check out her poetry on karinboye.se , and get inspired.