Amor Fati is a poem which has meant a lot to me over the years. Ever since I first read it in my early teens, I’ve regularly brought it forth, year on year, getting inspired every time.
Amor Fati is written by Norwegian poet André Bjerke who once revealed this was his favourite amongst his entire body of poetic work. [For source, see note.]
As is often the case with translations, this poem, too, loses out on nuances in the poets’s choice of specific words and the powerful dynamics in his use of metrics, rhythm and rhyme in the original version. Metrics and rhythm was of great importance to Bjerke’s in his writing; he was a master at the craft and wrote a much acclaimed textbook on the subject, The Art of Verse: Rhythm and Rhyme [Versekunsten: rytme og rim, Oslo: Aschehoug, 2000 (1. ed. 1980)]
Lacking in rhyme and formal metrics, Hashani’s translation of Amor Fati takes on a different shape and speaks to a different drum, yet his translation conveys the poem’s message with skill:
You should arm yourself,
not like a Caesar with a raised sword
against the world, but with the words:
Amor Fati – love your fate.
You should make this axiom
your strongest liberator;
You have chosen your path in the thicket,
Don’t look sideways at other paths!
The pain, too, is your servant,
Paralyzed, crushed and dejected
you see that it reunites you
with what is required.
The fall and the betrayal, too,
will help you like friends,
Your defeats are rich
gifts placed in your hands.
by being worthy of your destiny
you shall know: This was my will,
All that happens to me happens justly.
Then say, when the green woods
of your joy for life has been wandered through:
I want nothing different,
I wish nothing changed.
– André Bjerke (1918 – 1985)
Andre Bjerke (1918-1985) was a Norwegian poet. He is considered to be a writer of great importance and has a central place in modern Norwegian literature.
This translation of Amor Fati is by Hossein Kashani and was first published in Sufi Journal, Winter 2015, Issue 88
In an anthology of Nordic poets, edited by Norwegian novelist and literary critic, Odd Solumsmoen, Solumsmoen invited André Bjerke to select one of his best poems. [Dette står jeg inne for. Nordiske lyrikere velger sine beste dikt. (I Vouch for This. Nordic Poets Choose Their Best Poems.) Oslo, 1969: Bokklubbens Lyrikkvenner; 109 pp.]
Bjerke chose Amor Fati and commented his choice as follows:
“My motivation? “The poor man’s comfort is comforting himself,” says (the Norwegian poet) Wildenvey. I wrote this poem at a time I was feeling quite low – on bare ground, so to speak. And I was literally on bare ground, on a grassy hill somewhere in Baerum (near Oslo), where I lay one spring day and wished I were six feet under. But the mere ground and grass and spring had a beneficial effect: suddenly I was overtaken by the mood a poet once called “a high metaphysical mood”, and I grabbed hold of paper and pencil.
Usually it is quite rare that one can draw courage and strength from poems you have written yourself – after you have written them. But “Amor fati” I have actually been able to resort to when I got into trouble in life. As if I were reading a kind of “Word of the Night”, written by another and wiser person. That is why I choose this poem. ”
The poem was first published in the collection En jeger og hans hund [A Hunter and his Dog | Oslo, 1958: Aschehoug; 91 pp.]
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