Biography of Karin Boye
Boye was born in Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden, and moved with her family to Stockholm in 1909. She studied at Uppsala University from 1921 to 1926 and debuted in 1922 with a collection of poems, "Clouds" (Sw. "Moln"). During her time in Uppsala and until 1930, Boye was a member of the socialist group Clarté.
In 1931 Boye, together with Erik Mesterton and Josef Riwkin, founded the poetry magazine Spektrum, introducing T. S. Eliot and the Surrealists to Swedish readers. Together with the critic Erik Mesterton, she translated Eliot's "The Waste Land". She was largely responsible for translating the work of T. S. Eliot into Swedish.
Karin Boye is perhaps most famous for her poems, of which the most well-known ought to be "Yes, of course it hurts" (Sw. "Ja visst gör det ont") and "In motion" (Sw. "I rörelse") from her collections of poems "The Hearths" (Sw. "Härdarna"), 1927, and "For the sake of the tree" (Sw. "För trädets skull"), 1935. She was also a member of the Swedish literary institution Samfundet De Nio (chair number 6) from 1931 until her death in 1941.
Boye's novel "Crisis" (Sw. "Kris") depicts her religious crisis and lesbianism. In her novels "Merit awakens" (Sw. "Merit vaknar") and "Too little" (Sw. "För lite") she explores male and female role-playing.
Outside Sweden, her best-known work is probably the novel "Kallocain". Inspired by her visit to the Soviet Union in 1928 and her visit to Germany during the rise of National Socialism it was a portrayal of a dystopian society in the vein of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Huxley's Brave New World (though written almost a decade before Nineteen Eighty-Four). In the novel, an idealistic scientist named Leo Kall invents Kallocain, a kind of truth serum. The novel was filmed in Sweden 1981 and was the main influence for the movie Equilibrium.
Karin Boye's Works:
Karin Maria Boye (help·info) (October 26, 1900 – April 24, 1941) was a Swedish poet and novelist.
* Astarte, 1931
* Merit vaknar, 1933
* Kris, 1934
* För lite, 1936
* Kallocain, 1940
Collections of poems:
* Moln, 1922
* Gömda land, 1924
* Härdarna, 1927
* För trädets skull, 1935
* De sju dödssynderna, 1941 (not completed, posthumously published)
* Complete Poems in English translation by David McDuff
Karin Boye Poems
We were born of mothers of heaven and earth and of powers with no end in view, nocturnal wills and wills of light with names that no one knew.
Half awake the summer night broods quietly on dreams that no one knows. The tarns' glistening floods reflect a twilight sky's
This is life's silent hour, sunny and blessed, laughing white in power-conscious peace. The rejoicing and the songs fell silent,
Candles I saw burning, yes, holy candles on the eternal mountaintops. Blessed ones walked there in a trembling mystic light,
See the mighty clouds, whose distant lofty tops proud, shimmering rise, white as white snow! Calmly they glide on, at last in calm to die below,
A Buddhist Fantasy
Unlocked is the world's copper gate. High in its gate-vault here I stand, and what I see is infinitely great, and no sight is so without end.
The best that we possess, we cannot give away. we cannot write it either. and neither can we say.
You my despair and my strength, you took all the life I owned, and because you demanded everything, you gave back a thousandfold.
To A Sphinx
You are like the mollusc in chilly ponds where sunbeams never get. She never creeps out from her shell, her prison she cannot forget,
In springtime, in sprouting time, the seed its shell destroys, and rye becomes rye and pine becomes pine in freedom without choice.
Here I go not. This is not I. This is a lying reflection alone, asking, wondering where I have gone, yearning one day to meet its reality.
No time is like this one, the evening's final, silent hour. No sorrows burn any longer, no voices crowd any more.
See the mighty clouds, whose distant lofty tops
proud, shimmering rise, white as white snow!
Calmly they glide on, at last in calm to die below,
slowly dissolving in a shower of cool drops.
Majestic clouds - smiling onward they go straight
through life, through death in brilliant sun,
in ether so clear and pure, dark care unknown,
with quiet and grand contempt for their fate.