The Hill in the Woods

Cover of Planet of the and dog....

Some days I just want to share a poem that has held special meaning for me. I first read this wonderful translation by Robert Bly from the Swedish of Harry Martinson when I was 19.


The Hill in the Woods

Harry Martinson
(Translated from the Swedish by Robert Bly)

Two boys from town
Walked out in the woods one fall day
To reduce a farm girl
Whom the weird people had stolen.
They found the rock mountain in the woods
And knocked at the stone door
Hoping the troll was out somewhere picking

But the troll was at home,
And came to the door himself.
“I guess you’re looking for the girl,” the troll said.
“But the’s not at home.
She’s gone out to pick lingonberries.
We’re going to have some lingonberry sauce.”

The boys wondered what direction that would be.
“It’s off there,” and the troll pointed.
The boys thanked him for the information
And set off in that direction.
They found the country girl alright
But she didn’t recognize them.

She wasn’t too wild about being interrupted picking
either, she said.
And how do I know about you.
Maybe you could just change the whole way I see things.
The boys understood then that she hadn’t gotten into
the spell.
She hadn’t been changed by the other world so much
As she’d picked up bad habits.
But they still wanted to get her to come along.
Then she really got angry and worked them over.
She was stone-strong all right.

Safely home they didn’t say a word to their parents,
And ate their mush in silence.
They realized also that the people around here
Were not interested, as they used to be,
In trolls and people stolen.

This and many other thoughts moved in their minds
While they bit still frightened on their wooden spoons.
They signaled to one another under the table
With their feet as usual and went on eating.
The milk was turning.
That usually happens when there are thunderstorms
Or when someone has been working with troll power.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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