The pain

Edith Södergran: Poems

Happiness has no songs, happiness has no thoughts, happiness has nothing.

Punch your happiness so it bursts, for happiness is evil.

Happiness comes quietly with morning-winds in sleeping greenery,

happiness slides away in light cloud-images over deep blue ravines,

happiness is the field which sleeps in the midday glow

and the endless plain of the sea under the baking, vertical rays,

happiness is powerless, it sleeps and breathes and knows of nothing…

Do you know the pain? It is strong and great with secret fists.

Do you know the pain? It smiles comforting with teary eyes.

The pain gives us all we need –

it gives us the keys to the realm of death,

it shoves us through the gate when we hesitate.

The pain baptizes the children and holds vigil at the mother’s side

and smiths all golden bridal rings.

The pain rules over all, it straightens out the furrowed brow of the thinker,

it hangs the jewelry around the neck of the adored woman,

it stands in the door when the man returns from his beloved…

What more does the pain give its loved ones?

I know of no more.

It gives pearls and flowers, it gives songs and dreams,

it gives thousands of kisses which are all empty,

it gives the one and only true kiss.

It gives us our enigmatic souls and strange thoughts,

it gives us the greatest of all life’s prizes:

love, loneliness, the face of death.