Shoals

translated by 

An abstract drawing dominated by strong vertical lines, mostly blue with some accents of green and red

Don’t just aim the telescope
at the night sky’s swarming
to discover one more planet.

Turn it also toward the earth,
toward the bottom of the sea,
see the fish in between the rocks,

a flicker of silver arrows,
a glow of fire in the depths,
the blunt force of fibers,

the water burns
when the fish shoot their way forward
and stop submerged in the seaweed gardens,

look also toward the bottom of the sea,
shoals of fish irradiate the darkness there,
find rest in the waves.

Translation from the Danish

Danish poet Pia Tafdrup has published twenty collections of poetry, including Queen’s Gate (2001), Tarkovsky’s Horses and Other Poems (2010), Salamander Sun and Other Poems (2015), and The Taste of Steel • The Smell of Snow (2021). She is the recipient of the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize (1999) and the Nordic Prize from the Swedish Academy (2006). Berøringen af hud (The touch of skin), the last book in her series about the senses, just appeared in Denmark. Photo by Isak Hoffmeyer

David McDuff (b. 1945) is a Scottish translator, editor, and literary critic. His translations include works of nineteenth-century Russian fiction in Penguin Classics and Nordic poetry from Bloodaxe. In 2021 he was honored with the Swedish Academy’s Interpretation Prize (Tolkningspris).

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