The Bridge of Moments

The Bridge of Moments. Poems. Borgen 1988. The poem is translated by David McDuff.


It is the song of monks I hear.
    The sun comes and goes
     bursts in among columns and vaults
    disappears through arches of stone.
      Ruins of Europe
      shadowy cell for stone caskets and plaques.

It is the corpse I see
the lasting tyranny of sight.
     A young man who´s thrown himself
     from the roof
     both legs bent awkwardly back.
       His arms are wings
       that didn´t carry.

It is the song of monks I hear,
blood I see flowing.
     The wind tugs at flowers and herbs in the cloister garden
     shakes thyme shakes mint and tarragon.
     Flocks of pigeons rise above the chapel
     above the tower
     continue out over the river.
     A body through the air,
     a gust of cold.
     The blood I see drifting
     toward a gutter.

A gray wind from the park
scuds between arcades and walls
    raises the white down
    on my bare arms
    brushes up
    the sun-drenched hairs on my neck.
    Icy slaps against the pavement.

It is people I see hurrying
their angst rushes in and fills the street
    the living press their hands
    against the breast of the dead man.
      Blood oozes toward the grating
      and reaches
      the stars in the sewers.

It is the dead man´s blood that pours coldly
through my brain.
    The blood I hear mixing
    with water in the sewer,
    echoes of the song of monks
    I hear flowing
    behind thick walls.
    Rain washes the pavement clean
    and in the quadrangle
    the unicorn grazes undisturbed.
Silence begins with an animal.

The Bridge of Moments 1988, translated by Roger Greenwald

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