Page 40 - September 2020
P. 40


             NS: In your poem, “It’s Simply Ingenious,” there are two references to Norse Mythology, the
             pig  and  Valhalla.  How  has  your  poetry  been  influenced  by  Norse  Mythology?  How  about
             other mythologies, for example Greek and Roman?

             Niels  Hav:  As  a  Scandinavian  you  imbibe  Norse  mythology  with  mother’s  milk;  barrows
             from  the  Stone  Age  and  the  Vikings  are  scattered  in  the  landscape.  Nordic  mythology
             reflects  nature  and  life-conditions  here:  the  bright  hectic  summer  followed  by  a  loooong
             dark winter, when the days get shorter and shorter and everything drowns in rain or ice and
             snow.  Winter  depression  is  lurking  in  the  corners.I  studied  classical  Greek  and  Latin;
             Homer, Dante and Seneca are foundation stones. But when talking about mythology, the
             biblical  stories  undoubtedly  are  of  particular  importance.  They  are  common  and  shared
             stuff for Christians, Muslims and Jews, and the language is steeped in biblical metaphysics.
             Our  ideas  of  justice,  personal  freedom,  and  respect  for  the  individual,  have  taken  their
             colors  from  these  basic  stories.The  dream  of  the  earthly  paradise  is  the  engine  of  all
             revolutions.  When  writing  poetry  we  use  an  ancient  language  full  of  metaphysical
             connotations - language is no private invention, but a common tool, so we have to handle
             and use the connotations language carries along.

             NS: Your rural background reminds me of another Scandinavian poet, Olav H. Hauge (1908
             – 1994), who worked as gardener in his own orchard. How does your own poetry reflect this
             affinity with nature?

             Niels Hav: You are impressively well-informed about Nordic poetry.Yes, Olav Hauge lived
             his whole life in Ulvik, where he was born. An astonishing fact now when we all are a kind
             of nomads and wander around the globe: it is possible to stay home and dig deep with your
             own spade where you were born. Hauge was a humble local who used words sparingly and
             didn't had many material requirements. For me, my rural upbringing means that I came to
             poetry with different experiences from urban poets. Nature is not only a recreational area
             for  leisure,  but  also  the  cultivated  landscape,  where  farmers  grow  the  crops  that  feed
             people. The mind remembers the settlements in raw nature, and in all my books there are
             poems reflecting this, like The Stone Crusher in the new Arabic book:

                                              What is man supposed to do with his life?
                                                       Walk into the plantation;
                                                     sit down sheltered and listen
                                                to the conversation between the wind
                                                           and the fir trees?
                                                    Who has a better suggestion?

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