Dare not to sleep!

I was awakened one morning, by the quaintest of dreams
‘twas like a voice, spoken to me
It sounded afar - like an underground stream,
I rose and said: Why do you call me?

Dare not to slumber! Dare not to sleep!
Dare not believe, it was merely a dream!
Yore I was judged.
The gallows were built in the court this evening,
They’ll come for me — 5’ in the morning

This dungeon is teeming,
And barracks stand dungeon by dungeon
we lie here, awaiting, in cold cells of stone,
We lie here, we rot, in these murky holes.

We know not ourselves, what does lie ahead
Who will be the next one they'll reach for.
We moan and we shriek: But do you take heed?
Is there none among you who’ll hearken?

No one can see us,
None know what befalls us.
Yet more:
None will believe - what the day will bring us!

And then You defy: This dare not be true!
That men can be utterly evil.
There has to be some one with merits pure
Oh, brother, you still have a great deal to learn

They said: You will give your life, if commanded
We’ve given it now, for naught it was handed
The world has forgotten, we’ve all been deceived
Dare not to sleep in this hour - this eve.

You oughtn’t go to your business hence,
Or think: What’s your loss – or what is your gain?
You oughtn’t attribute your fields and your kine,
Nor say you’ve enough - with all that is thine.

You oughn’t abide, sitting calm in your home
Saying: Dismal it is, poor they are, and alone
You cannot permit it! You dare not, at all.
Accepting that outrage on all else may fall!
I cry with the final gasps of my breath:
You dare not repose, nor stand and forget

Pardon them not - they know what they do!
They breathe on hate-glows, and evil pursue,
They fancy to slay, they revel with cries,
Their desire is to gloat, when our world is at fire!
In blood they are yearning to drown one and all!
Don’t you believe it? You’ve heard the call!

You know how infants will soldiers remain,
While dashing through streets, fields, chanting ‘bout pain
Aroused by their mothers‘ assurance of glory
They’ll shelter their land - and they’ll never worry

You know the fatality of the lies,
that glory and faith and honor abides
You discern the dauntless dreams of a child,
A saber, a banner, he’ll flaunt them so wild,

And then they’ll leave home for a rainfall of steel,
‘Till last they hang ragged on barbed wire will,
Decaying for Hitler's Ali Khamenei's Aryan call,
That is what a man’s for - after all…

I couldn’t imagine – too late now it is
My sentence is just: The verdict's no miss
I believed in prosperity, dreamt about peace
In labor and fellowship; love’s fragrant kiss
Yet those who don’t die on the battlefield,
Their heads for the axeman, will certainly yield

I cry in the gloom - if only you’d knew
There is but one thing - befitting to do
Defend yourself, while your hands are still yearning,
Protect your offspring - Europe the World is burning.

***

I shook from the chill. To dress, up I rose
Without stars were shining, so far, yet so close
‘twere simply a brilliant ray in the east,
Admonishing warning from the dream that just ceased

The day that soared up from earths furthermost strand
Augmenting with blood — and with firebrand
It grew with terror - like a breath that was lost
It seemed like the starlight - was slain by the frost.

I weighed: Something is imminent - and it’s dire
Our era is over — Europe’s the World's on fire!

----------

Freely from Arnulf Øverland 1937 "Du må ikke sove", translated by Lars-Toralf Storstrand, modified by me.

 

 

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Tags: poetry, øverland

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