Poetry by Edith Södergran

The Last Flower of Autumn

I am the last flower of autumn.
I was rocked out of the cradle of summer,
I was put on watch against the Nordic winds,
red flames erupted
on my white cheek.
I am the last flower of autumn.
I am the youngest seed of the dead spring,
it’s so easy to die as the last;
I have seen the lake so fabulous and blue,
I have heard the beat of the dead summer’s heart,
my chalice bears no other seed than death’s.

I am the last flower of autumn.
I have seen the starry heights of autumn,
I beheld light from warm hearths in the distance,
it’s so easy to follow the same path.
I shall close the doorways to death.
I am the last flower of autumn.


I am foreign in this land,
which lies deep beneath the oppressive sea,
the sun gazes in with winding rays
and the air flows between my hands.
They tell me I was born in captivity–
no face would be familiar to me here.
Was I a stone, one which was cast here to the bottom?
Was I a fruit, which was too heavy for its branch?
I lie here in wait at the foot of the wuthering tree,
how shall I ascend the slippery stems?
Up above the lurching crowns meet,
there I want to sit and keep watch
for the smoke from my homeland’s chimneys…

Towards All Four Winds

No bird strays here into my secluded corner,
no black swallow that brings longing,
no white gull that predicts storm…
In the shadow of the cliffs my wildness keeps watch,
ready to flee at the slightest rustle, for approaching footsteps…
My world is silent and turning blue, the blessed…
I have a gateway towards all four winds.
I have a golden gateway towards the east–for love that never comes,
I have a gateway for the day and another for sadness,
I have a gateway for death–that stands ever open.

We Women

We women, we are the brown earth so near.
We ask the cuckoo, what he expects of the spring,
we wrap our warm arms around the bare pine,
we delve into the sunset for signs and counsel.
I once loved a man, he believed in nothing…
He came one cold day with empty eyes,
he left one tough day with oblivion on his brow.
If my child does not live, it is his…

The Colours’ Longing

Owing to my own pallor I love red, blue, and yellow,
the great whiteness is melancholic like the winter dusk
when Snow White’s mother sat by the window and wished black and red thereto.
The colours’ longing is that of the blood. If you thirst after beauty
you must close your eyes and gaze into your own heart.
Yet beauty fears the day and all too many looks,
yet beauty does not endure din and all too many movements–
you must not lead your heart to your lips,
we ought not disturb the dignified rings of silence and solitude–
what is greater encountered than an unsolved riddle with peculiar qualities?
A demurette I shall be in all of my ways,
an oratress is like the babbling brook that betrays itself;
a lone tree I shall be on the plain,
the trees in the forest perish from longing after the storm,
I shall be sound from top to toe with streaks of gold in my blood,
I shall be pure and innocent like a flame with lips that lick.


Edith Södergran

One of the greats of Swedish modernist literature, Edith Södergran died at the age of thirty-one before her genius had the chance to be truly appreciated. She was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1909, and her eventual death in 1923 was preordained for the entirety of her short adult life. It is largely thanks to this consumptive fate, along with the loss of her fortune during the October Revolution (and surely in part her gender), that Södergran has been condemned to interpretations painting her as meek victim, isolated from the outside world, suffering and alone.

Nicholas Lawrence

Nicholas Lawrence is a postgraduate philosophy student living in Stockholm. His original fiction has been published in Tincture Journal and Potluck Magazine, while his translations make sporadic appearances on Monday Art Project. He also can be found online at http://nicholaslawrence.se.

English translation copyright (c) Nicholas Lawrence, 2016.