When they sleep

In Inspiration
Scroll this

Does a photograph need words to accompany it? Does a text need images to illustrate it? It all depends, on how much con-text you want your image to have, and whether you want to leave the interpretation of your text to your reader’s image-ination.

But then there are certain words, at certain times, that beg to be illustrated. This poem, read by my aunt to my son on the occasion of his name day celebration yesterday, is one such set of words. The words are so vivid to me, and so emotional, and they only grow more so when I pair them with images.


Everyone is a child when they sleep.
Then there is no war in them.
They open their hands and breathe
in the quiet rhythm that heaven has granted to mankind.

They purse their mouths like little children
and open their hands halfway all,
soldier and statesman, servants and masters.
The stars stand guard then, and there
lies a mist over the vaults,
a few hours when no one will hurt another.


Could we but speak to each other then
when hearts are like half-open flowers.
Words like golden bees
would enter there.
– God, teach me the language of sleep.

– Rolf Jacobsen; my translation.


Comments are closed.