The Shadow Out There

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Shuddhashar: What is that You strive to explore and convey through your poetry?

Eldrid LundenWriting poetry is for me a rather slow process. Since the existential questions are few, the poet’s “answers” will at best show variations in experience and knowledge. Then the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung once said: Man’s duty is to create consciousness. Yes. But perhaps we might add that a poet’s interpretation of her own text is of little interest. Anyhow, I never published mine.


Shuddhashar: How do you interpret the present world, and how have current events spurred you write?

Eldrid LundenMy poems often are inspired by readings. Our dialogue with “the present world” will be included in our writing whether we are aware of it or not. Only the poem can tell how.


Shuddhashar: What literary pieces – poetry, fiction or non-fiction – and writers have informed and inspired your own writing? And how have they done so?

Eldrid Lunden: I learned early to know classic Norwegian literature, and I was exposed to the Bible in many ways. I was deeply moved by the story of Jesus Christ: How could a good and wise man be hated, tortured, and killed? I still ask that question.

As a student I read William Blake, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Edith Södergran, Gunnar Ekelöf, and I read Japanese, Chinese, Eskimo, Indian, and Sufi poems in translation. Then I read philosophy, history, and popular science books about social, psychological, and political questions.


Shuddhashar: In what way do your personal identity and experiences shape your poetry?

Eldrid Lunden: I’m afraid I have no good answer to the question.


Shuddhashar: How do you use structure, language and grammer to accentuate the message of your poetry. Do you subscribe to conventions or break them?

Eldrid Lunden: We are always dependent on conventions, and language needs renewal from time to time.  “Breaking rules” in writing poetry is a complicated question. We don`t choose or plan a surprise, do we?


Shuddhashar: What is your opinion about conflicts and solidarities between political poetry and the literary and artistic values of poetry?

 Eldrid LundenThere should be no conflict. Artistic values may include “everything”. But this ability, or quality, doesn’t itself make a poem more or less good, bad, intelligent, romantic, political, valuable etc. The poet’s talent is what counts.


Shuddhashar: Does your poems transcend national boundaries? Does it appeal to different nationalities or linguistic groups?

Eldrid LundenA few books of mine have been translated into Danish, Swedish, German, and English. You may also find single poems in European periodicals.





From The Flock and the Shadow  (2005)

Translated from Norsk: Annabelle Despard



The heath in the animal’s path


Shadows in the snow


at dusk. Two animals out in open


I stand by the window

in the snow in the soundless eye



Two deer interrupted me

It’s too early and it’s too late

as incomprehensible as it is beautiful



I would like to place these fields on the sheet


I realise that the roe deer pertains to the issue

And that the flight of birds across my vision is a formula for joy



Listening test against snow


Something is scratching in the missing sound


And I who have hardly ever seen a bear!

Only bear hunters



From a room underneath the night, come piercing screams, now

he is tormenting the animals again

New waves of screams

I tear open the door to the cellar. The inner door is heavily

blocked. I manage to get the stones away, but

it takes longer than I thought. Someone’s shouting

as the door gives away. I see him standing there. In grey clothes

Face turned away. The usual



The new shadow is a shadow

The new shadow is a flame and

even though the horizon is a curve pointing

downwards, the shadow and the flame converge

now, moving each other as shadow in

shadow, keeping the tree alive, upright





The shadow flickering


 The animals of the forest have fixed resting places

and the best view

of the animal’s inner world


out there



The polar bear drifts along the shores

wherever the wind, currents and food take him


Life’s greatest danger lies in the fact that man’s food

consists entirely of souls


(Eskimo shaman)





Bin Laden, bin Laden, bin Laden … humming

in the quiet September woods


the small sound icing

through is not a new mobile phone. It’s


a bird, I think, and notice my head turning

slowly following this thought



I look at high Afghan mountains. And a picture of men in white robes. I think of Afghan deserts and rivers and blood in the sand. I think of pictures of bin Laden in a cave, high up in the snowy mountain where he holds an oddly short gun that can reach the end of the world. I think of laser beams on their way to find him. In American newspapers I read that Clinton has grabbed all the credit of the Manhattan ground while Bush was hiding. In Norwegian papers I read about bin Laden on holiday on Costa del Sol helping himself to cultural treasures of the western world, sun, champagne and beautiful women



The next day I think about deer

who have long had a great, but somewhat

unheeded talent for being a deer. And the wolf

that is trying to get some acting among the sheep in Østerdalen

without it making him more protected as a species


And the cat practising catch with mice ad infinitum

without being disrupted. Either because we think the mouse is too small, or because the cat has such elegant paw-work




The other nature


 Today I’ve been reading Ole Thyssen’s essay about

The other nature


And how man bent over himself

tries to define his own being as

the speaking animal with ”that little extra”


  • Ole Thyssen (1944), Ph.D 1976



On a level with the forest that defines itself

as a forest within the forest, one should perhaps say


On a level with criteria in art that

need not necessarily be criteria for art alone

one could also say


The blind spot in one’s self esteem. The chicken on the chalk line



A restless flock of birds in the cherry tree. What

are they thinking about in this cold? They’re not thinking

you say, they just fly and fly right until they

drop to the ground















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