Three times three roses for Calypso

(After the introduction below, comes a very beautiful love poem by a well-known Swedish poet. Just scroll down ….)

It’s this online site I use to visit to meet different kind of people…

A portly and bearded middle aged American man, impressed by himself as once in youth been trained at Eton and Cambridge and then after going to US working for Silicon Valley (how you go from historical studies to work with high tech, it’s an enigma he doesn’t reveals, but he tell his work made him rich and that US even gave a star his name – and his name is Ernest, but anyway – he:) tells people on this website he’s now wealthy enough to follow his star, meaning being free from paid work and able to put all his time on his hobby projects, and reading again all the old Greek he learned to know as young. (It’s all so very advanced and impressive, I hardly dare to breathe only reading about it!)

And he tells he now writes on a novel about Odysseys seven year on the island Ogygia, captured there by the nymph Calypso. Every night Odysseys said “no” to Calypso’s requests spending the night with her, the American claims, and this made him ponder what had been moving in the ancient Greek’s head all these years. This long lonely years could have been a time of inner reflection and self-examination for the ancient hero, the American suggests.

As a retreat, then? None of that sounds understandable for an ancient Greek’s mind – i.e, say no to sex and engage in internal reflection. And as I recall from my youth studies in literature, the aging warrior didn’t say no to spend the nights with Calypso. But despite the night’s delights, the daylight brought him back to homesickness and a gloomy mood, sitting at the beach looking over the wide sea, sighing… Following my habits, I googled this to check if I remembered it correctly. I was right  – no big deal for me, really – but I was lucky to found a poem by a well-known Swedish poet I had not read before. And the poet has in his poem a different view on this love affair (than the novel-writing American).

And it’s the most beautiful love poem ever written, I just can’t resist to make an entry about it.

The Swedish poet’s name is Lars Forssell. He lived 1928 – 2007. There is no poems translated to English by him – i.e online. But he wrote a lot of poetry collections (15, I think it was) and lots of lyrics to songs who became public treasures “everybody” knows about, and he translated lyrics from French and even more, I don’t know it all… and he became a member of Swedish Academy, which annually elects Nobel Prize in Literature. So he must has been translated into other languages. But for this poem I can only offer you my translation. (It’s not a bad translation, but it’s surely an illegitimate child, and that’s why you had to suffer this introduction.)

The Swedish words comes first, than my translation:

Lars Forssell
Odysseus på Ithaca
(from the poetry collection Telegram, 1957)

Tre gånger tre rosor
har jag kastat i havet idag, när strömmen
för bort från Ithaca.
Tre gånger tre duvor
har, fladdrande, lyft från min hand.

Det finns purpur så mäktigt, Kalypso,
att några uns därav kan färga hela havet blodrött.
Vad hjälper mig då avstånd
och att jag flydde dig?

Sirenerna lockar än i min dröm.
Och havet svalkar.
Och drömmen ropar – storm
och efter dig.


Three times three roses
I have thrown in the ocean today when stream
moves away from Ithaca.
Three times three pigeons
has fluttering lift from my hand.

There’s red so mighty, Calypso,
a few ounces of it may color the entire sea blood red.
What helps me then distance
and that I escaped you?

The sirens still curls in my dream.
And the sea cools.
And the dream calls out – storm
and for you.


The Swedish word “purpur” would be carmine, blood red or ruby red in English. Our word for “purple” is dark lilac, so I simply chose to translate “purpur” with “red”.
(I’m sorry for my spiteful writing about this American man, but he was arrogant, and he had called a 21 yo girl writing to him “dumb”…! )
If you want more reading on this subject, try this link:


This entry was posted in poem in English and Swedish, Poetry, Swedish poem to English and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.