Tuesday, August 14, 2012

for the sake of my own paleness

The Colours’ Longing

by Edith Södergran

For my own paleness’ sake I love red, blue and yellow,
the great whiteness is cheerless as the snowy twilight
when Snow-White’s mother sat at the window and wished
herself black and red as well.
The colours’ longing is the blood’s. If you thirst after beauty
you must close your eyes and look into your own heart.
Yet beauty fears the daylight and too many looks,
yet beauty will not suffer noise or all too many movements –
you must not bring your heart to your lips,
we should not disturb the noble rings of silence and solitude, -
what is greater to meet than an unsolved riddle with strange features?
A silent woman I shall be all my life long,
a talking woman is like the chattering beck that betrays itself,
a lonely tree on the plain I shall be,
the trees in the wood die of longing for storms,
I shall be healthy from top to toe with golden streaks in my blood,
I shall be pure and innocent as a flame with licking lips.

I have V. to thank for reading suggestions in the area of Scandinavian poetry.....

Edith Sodergran, Swedish speaking, Finnish, first book out in 1916, her work was mainly passed over at the time, but she became known as a trailblazer.  A familiar story, it seems, always, in poetry.

Being pale myself, the first line drew me in to this poem.  And the last line!  Just that innocent. How wonderful.

And I too, think of myself as a silent woman, silent and pale.  But yes, the innocent flames, the burning, are also familiar to me.

Today's photos are of the hydrangea tree that we planted in our front yard this spring.  The blooms were at first pure white, and then have become tinged with pink.  When it first bloomed, we said, did not the tag say pink?  But decided we weren't going to dig it up and return it to the store after it's been growing and rooting down for four months. We'd decided to let it be, pale though it was, white as snow. And we who live in winter seven months of the year, covered in snow, always craving colour - we'd resigned ourselves to its lack of colour, maybe even embraced it.  And then, the twinges of colour began to appear, the specks of pink, the soft pale hue, the pink stain.

And here, a fairly recent photo of me, that you may have seen on Facebook, but just to show my silly paleness, my mismatched eyes.  (Which would be of interest, I think, if you've read Hive).


  1. You are beautiful. I am sending this poem to two of my daughters. They are pale... and so very lovely. Thank you for this.

  2. Thanks so much Staci. Hope your daughters like the poem.

  3. When I read the poem, I thought it must resonate with you personally and then was pleased to read on to your own notes on the subject. The hydrangea is beautiful in its paleness and I fully understand about craving colour -- I spent all but this past year of my life living in the northern whiteness. I must tell you that two other lines grabbed hold of me in particular: "a lonely tree on the plain I shall be,..." it speaks of me. But then that final line nearly took my breath away, as words so perfectly choreographed have a way of doing, "I shall be pure and innocent as a flame with licking lips."

  4. When I cover half your face and look at your blue eye you look happy, and then when I look at the half with just your hazel eye you look fey, like a wood nymph! Amazing.

  5. ...and there you are! Nice to see you, gorgeous, dear one. That was a lovely post.


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