Poor man –

Edvard Søderberg: Poems of the Street

A winter morning: slushy grey snow,
a beam of light from the boulevard’s sun,
a row of black tree trunks, drops of rain
and cries of crows – and people that run…

What’s up? Look, on the bench over there –
a ragged guy; frozen to death;
poor one with large, red hands and wiry beard
and a nose like a blazing torch.

A pretty soldier! – Quiet, jest not;
do you know what he’s been through?
Whether life has let him choose freely good or bad,
ere shutting his eyes, do you?

And if he chose – d’you know then
if he entered the battle unarmed;
d’you know whether he fought like a man
before he surrendered - lost?

Have you fought as well, and felt as pupil
how “honour” holds and binds? -
Whom among us, we who’ve suffered,
has never lost and never failed?

Have you yourself wandered the city
homeless a night with pocketed hands,
a beggar-prince, hungry and cold,
and laid down on the bench where we stand?

The one who has fought in such a way
and cried out under the pain of the lash,
he shall throw the rock! –
You, my good friends, should quieten, rather than judge!