Poor Jacob –

Edvard Søderberg: Poems of the Street

Poor Jacob with the clever eyes,
the red hair and the giant ears
and hard, evil lines around his lips
sits waiting on the stairs.

It’s evening; giant, shadows and gloom
shift over the dirt of the wall;
and he ducks his head and stares
at the gutter’s heaven, pondering all.

Cries and swears, the drunken laughter of girls
stream through the darkness – and over there
under the streetlight’s red glow on the corner
among the street’s losers, stands his father.

Jacob’s mother is out; she went
to visit someone in the morning; and when
she comes home tonight, she’ll surely have
something good in one of her pockets. -

Poor Jacob with the clever eyes
knows much which isn’t good to know;
women’s screams and tears and quiet whispers
he has observed at late, dark hours.

All that in the darkness grows and thrives,
all which sounds bad and smells yet worse,
knows Jacob – oh, yes, he could speak,
could tell stories, the boy, if he chose!

Behind his wooden partition, alert
he longs towards the filthy joys of sin. -
The good angels turn away to cry,
covering their faces in their white wing…