Hotellrom i Oslo by Nordahl Grieg

I’ve been re-reading some Nordahl Grieg again and decided to give another go to translating one of his poems. This time it’s “Hotellrom i Oslo” / “Oslo Hotel Room”. The poem comes from his 1925 collection Stene i Strømmen (1925).

Below, I’ve ordered the poem with a stanza in Norwegian followed by my translation into English and then the English altogether in one so you get a sense of what I’ve done. The poem is written in rhyming couplets in Norwegian, but I have dispensed with this for the translation.

Hotellrom i Oslo

Her sitter jeg på sengen i et fremmed, koldt, hotell,

og min hånd er full av lengsel mot annen hånd ikveld.

I sit on the bed of a frozen cold hotel

my hand full of longing for another hand tonight.

 

Enshomheten slår fra gaten, aldri før så bittert ny,

fottrinn, skygger, buelamper, suset fra den mørke by.

Loneliness rises from the street, never so bitter before,

footsteps, shadows, arc lights, shaken from the dark city.

 

Der blir menske møtt av menske, med et rop, et blikk, et smil.

Mellom meg og dem dernede er det tusener av mil.

People meeting people, with a shout, a look, a smile.

Between me and them a thousand miles.

 

Ja, jeg sitter sitter her så ensom at det hvisker i mitt sinn:

er det sant jeg noensinne holdt en annen hånd i min?

So lonely, sitting here, a whisper in my mind I hear:

Is it so I’ll never hold another hand in mine?

 

Men blant alle øde skygger er det som jeg innerst vet:

aldri har mitt hjerte elsket før i denne ensomhet!

Among these desolate shadows I know full-well:

Never have I ever loved before this loneliness!

 

La de andre bare møtes, la dem gå forlovet hjem

til det aftensbord som venter tusen aftener på dem!

Let the others meet, let them go home engaged

to their evening table waiting with a thousand evenings!

 

Mine lengsler seiler lenger, over hav og kveld og gry.

Jeg behøver ingen sporvogn klokken syv til Homansby!

My longing sails longer, over sea and evening and dawn.

I don’t need the 7pm to Homansby!

 

Men er rikere enn disse som hver løs og ledig stund

kan få ta sin elsktes hender eller kysse hennese munn.

In each and every idle moment, I’m richer

I can hold my lover’s hand and kiss her mouth.

 

Oslo Hotel Room

I sit on the bed of a frozen cold hotel

my hand full of longing for another hand tonight.

 

Loneliness rises from the street, never so bitter before,

footsteps, shadows, arc lights, shaken from the dark city.

 

People meeting people, with a shout, a look, a smile.

Between me and them a thousand miles.

 

So lonely, sitting here, a whisper in my mind I hear:

Is it so I’ll never hold another hand in mine?

 

Among these desolate shadows I know full-well:

Never have I ever loved before this loneliness!

 

Let the others meet, let them go home engaged

to their evening table waiting with a thousand evenings!

 

My longing sails longer, over sea and evening and dawn.

I don’t need the 7pm to Homansby!

 

In each and every idle moment, I’m richer

I can hold my lover’s hand and kiss her mouth.

 

 

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