The Whales in Paris

The Whales in Paris. Tarkovsky´s Horses and Other Poems. Poems Bloodaxe 2010. Cover: Bloodaxe. The poem is translated by David McDuff


In the darkness the moon keeps watch
Your eyes are closed -
everyone has seen something,
but not the same.
What the face conceals,
                    the night notices
and the door stands open.
Your eyes are closed -
your face is near to mine.
A power rises and rises
from the moment we are born,
                   - and we are not creatures of a single day.
Our brains are not constructed
to guide wings
but to build languages
and navigate in a different way:
to think is to try
to see in a new way, with polar clarity
- which also means
to grasp the limitation.
Your eyes are closed -
your body is a leap forward
into that saffron-glowing radiance.
Sleep has overturned
the Rosetta stone of your brain;
it shows a script
we have not deciphered before ...
Our place is time,
and we read,
as though we are trying to remember
what has not yet happened to us.
What we do not do
                        is not forgiven.
One hand grips hard,
the other protects,
a third blesses.
Your eyes are closed -
the soul is drawn
by that infinite space,
built from the pauses in the music.
I have your cry
                  in my mouth.

The Whales in Paris, 2002, translated by David McDuff

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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


© 2023 Pia Tafdrup