Jump Across The Shadow

Jump Across The Shadow. Selected Poems 1981-2006. Poems Gyldendal 2007. Cover: Ida Balslev-Olesen

Selected Poems 1981-2006. Copenhagen 2007


I was a night in August, on the other side of the planets’ ice,
I was a hand that gripped and held fast,
I was an avalanche, a blood-black wall on fire,
I was a strident passage in my mother’s heart,
where she had to decide
                  if life was worth living,
I was my father’s lust, I was forgiveness,
I was the pulse in the earth, the deepest veins,
I was the dew in the grass one raw, cold morning,
I was flower and nectar scent,
I was a dripping sweetish taste
of the apple with bitter carnelian-red peel,                              
                                                           − a kernel,
that rode on the water without sinking
and was washed ashore on a north-facing coast    
on the fifty-sixth parallel,
I was the hidden, found by a beam of light,                                   
seen by an angel’s eye ― 
an eye that thought itself lost,                                                              
where the shore was salt-white, the sand light as ash,
and the beech-wood forced steep slopes                                       
to reflect themselves in the water,
echo on echo…                                       
I was a raging fever in the blood,
I was a membrane that burst, the birds that flew,                              
I was the murmur in the room beneath the treetops’ cupola,               
a whirring of sounds that led weightlessly in
where paths are erased,                                                                  
                          and there is no way back,
into the magnetic field of the hidden, into the zone of sucking darkness,
from which all the alphabet’s letters spring
 – out into the light,
                        out into the silence to strike root
                                                                     in endless present,          
where the shadows dwell, and do not assimilate.       


Pia Tafdrup
is a poet, writer and a member of The Danish Academy.

Honours include:

The Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize 2006
The Soeren Gyldendal Award, 2005
The Nordic Council’s Literature Prize, 1999


© 2024 Pia Tafdrup