Tuesday, September 28

Jens Bjørneboe in English

As previously posted in this blog on September 13th I am reading Tore Rem s Biography (in Norwegian) about the Norwegian novelist, poet, playwright, and essayist Jens Bjørneboe (1920-1976). He is still one of Norway's most cosmopolitan and controversial writers.

In January 1963 the then 42 years old J.B. published the Manifest expressed through a poem called: "Ti bud til en ung mann som vil frem i verden" (Ten Commandments for a Young Man With Ambitions).
I have (with strong support from my daughter Trine in Wales) rewritten the poem:
Commandment One is clear and straight,
the majority is always right

Predict what people will confide,
And take the stronger party’s side

When in doubt, deign to pause,
until you see who gets applause

Choose your statements when you talk.
Count the costs from group to walk.

Don´t put forward too free rein.
But stick to what will bring you gain

Give everyone what they adore,
go quiet through your boss´s door

(For truth brings sorrow, need and dread,
while daily lies bring daily bread)

Curl your back, creep along,
in every home you will belong

A man is never praised too much.
Do all to get him in your clutch

(and with the shield of brotherhood,
your future will be long and good)

Store every gossip word you hear.
It can be used when you are there.

(But no discreet and tactful guy
will talk to him that curse apply !)

If these commandments are your Lead,
your future life is guaranteed

Boldness always gains temptation,
but with prudent moderation!

Stride bravely to your chosen Quest, one step ahead of all the rest

After I had made the interpretation I searched the web and found Esther Greenleaf Murer´s site with this and other of Bjørneboe´s texts in English. If any, I will recommend the essay "How Arne Næss and I Conquered NATO"Have a nice time with Jens Bjørnebo in English by courtesy of Ester G.Murer.


9na said...

Herlig og flott oversettelse av Jens B!!!

Esther Greenleaf Murer said...

New link to Jens Bjorneboe in Engish (Wayback Machine):

Esther Greenleaf Murer