Poetic Translations: From the Aphorisms of Søren Kierkegaard

What is a poet?
An unhappy man who
deep in his heart hides
anguish, but whose lips
are so comprised that
when he screams
he makes sweet music.

I’d rather be
a swineherd of the hills
understood by pigs
than a poet
misunderstood by men.

***

I prefer to speak to children.
At least of them one may hope
that here will grow
a Reasonable Being.
But to those who think they have arrived already…
God have mercy.

***

Hear this marvel.
To the seventh heaven I was lifted,
and there all the gods sat together in council,
granting me one wish.
“What do you ask for?” Mercury spoke.
“Is it power, or youth, or beauty, long life?
The most beautiful girl?
Or any of what we have to give?
But only take one. What shall it be?”

I paused for a moment,
thrown by the choice,
then I spoke:
“I ask only this:
that laughter might always be on my side.”
Silence. Not one of the gods said a word.
They only laughed, and I thought it was apt.
It would have been crude to say,
“As you wish.”

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