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  • Verse
  • Johannes V. Jensen (bio)
    Translated by Thomas E. Kennedy (bio)

Even when you swim, girl, you are fucking—the waves; innocent as the elements you practice making love.

Your delicate feminine hands stroke the wave’s rippled brow, like her, you know: Europa who rode the bull (O horror!).

Your nice swimming gestures, what are they but unborn embraces? How you are knocked backward, child, when the breakers come roaring!

Kissed all over your body and knocked over by the wave you’re born again in the foam— with your feet up in the air!

Don’t beg for mercy with your legs! That’s been the death of many! Rather turn your back on the rapist! (But do you think that will always save you?)

The sea besieges the swimmers like a flock of watering buffalo; seldom has such a little thing been more forcefully pursued!

Since you stand in your shift and are still in the wind, an airy god laughs over such ill-concealed limbs. [End Page 80]

Ah, I am not naughty, I love you. The salt you taste on your lip, that is my soul, you sweetheart! [End Page 81]

Johannes V. Jensen

Johannes V. Jensen (1873–1950), often considered to be the first great Danish writer of the twentieth century, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1944. His masterpiece Kongens Fald (The Fall of the King, 1933), a modern historical novel, was followed by Digte 1906 (Poems 1906), which introduced the prose poem into Danish literature. Jensen traveled extensively; a trip to the United States inspired his famous poem “Paa Memphis Station.”

Thomas E. Kennedy

Thomas E. Kennedy’s translations of Danish poets have appeared widely in American literary journals such as American Poetry Review, the Literary Review, New Letters, Mid-American Review, and many others. His most recent publications include the novels of the Copenhagen Quartet—the first two of which are being published worldwide by Bloomsbury USA and UK in 2010 and 2011, respectively.



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pp. 80-81
Launched on MUSE
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