Bengt Berg- Sweden

Bengt Berg- Sweden


Bengt Berg was born in 1946 in Torsby, Värmland, Sweden. He studied German and Nordic languages & Literary and Art studies at Uppsala University. He worked as a freelance writer and translator since 1975. Berg was a Member of the Swedish Parliament from 2010 to 2014.

   Since 1990, Bengt has operated the publishing house, Heidruns Förlag, and an Art Café in his home village Fensbol near Torsby in the Province of Värmland.

   Bengt Berg’s debut poetry collection, Where the Dream Ends, appeared in1974;  and since then he has written more than thirty books, mostly poetry. His poems have been translated into Nordic languages, as well as Arabian, Hebrew, English, German, Dutch, Greek, Romanian, Spanish, Turkish, Polish, Russian, Latvian, Vietnamese, Hindi and Malayalam. In 2014, he published his Collected Poems, Dikter genom 40 år.

   He has participated in many poetry festivals, including Medellín (Colombia), Granada (Nicaragua), Struga (Macedonia), och Druskininkai (Litauania), Nisan (Israel), Jan Smrek Festival (Slovakia), Kritya (India), Târgul Festival de Poezie (Romania), Poetry on the Road (Bremen, Germany), among others. Berg has won several Swedish Literary prizes, among them some from The Swedish Academy.


Bengt Berg’s poems ”are full of humour and warmth, and characterized by sharp insights into the oddities of people and situations. With time he has become more and more aware of form — without sacrificing other merits — and his poems appear at times to have been written by an Eastern master.” In his poetry the author offers experiences learned in life blended with curious observations of daily realities. Humour is woven into the poems but Berg has also explored themes that are unusual for this genre. In his programmes before live audiences, Bengt Berg is a humourist with a serious side, a performer who gladly stretches the boundaries between different art forms and traditions in poetry. These public appearances contribute to the fact that his books enjoy unusually high sales on the Swedish market.

A New Year

A New Year seldom comes alone,

in tow it hangs all days-of-the-year

like sea-shells threaded

on a string of wind, filled by

forgotten sailors’ songs.

A New Year is date-stamped, and comes

with the seal of growth-rings; after some months

you can buy the recently new calender

for half-price.

A New Year provide us with a blind-fold

just because we will get appeased with the shower of sparks

from the New Year rockets which try to exceed

the Karla carriage, while clinking from champagne glasses —

more and more sounds like somebody’s way home

over night-old ice.

A New Year makes us grown up once again,

just like Christmas transformed us like children

— once again. (The difference is that the child can see

how its longing becomes his fulfillment, while

we grown-ups ensure that the living

candles do not burn to the end).

A New Year gives us hope that —

what we didn’t want to happen — will not happen,

that the mornings of the New Year should be as shining

as the olives before disappearing

in the Quattro Staggione oven.

A New Year is something that we already know a lot of —

like unexpected smiles that will meet you

in the street freely, like idiotic [drivers] overtaking at will,

like Spring Equinox,

like summer flowers,

like it is time for changing to studded snow-tyres.

A New Year to enter, just to be met

by the perenial current question:

what prevents you from happiness?


In the foreign city

with an incomprehensible language

you are walking along unfamiliar streets;

not even the water of the river

which flows under the stone arch of the bridge

you know not the name of

— and there you are, standing

totally alone, in your own shadow

which slowly trickles out onto the asphalt

like a distant melody

from a flute that is out of tune.

But suddenly

a little bird notices you,

meets your gaze

with its pepper-coloured eyes,

before it disappears into the dawn.

On Longing

He longed for

outside’s freedom, the child said,

when I opened the window

for the bird.

Where are the outsides

which makes our breasts

fill up with longing —

and the words

which make language

to something else, other than words.

About Some Colours

The snow on the mountain is white in winter.

The winter is white as snow on the mountain.

In spring on the mountain the snow is grey,

grey like the stone on the mountain in the summer.

In autumn, above the stone, the sky is blue.

In winter, the sky and the clouds are grey.

On the mountain in winter the stone is white,

on the stone in the mountain in spring

the cap is red.

On Stone

Observe the ear, listen to the sound

in which the sun sinks

in the lake

Turn the night outside in,

feel the hairy coat’s darkness,

drink the smell of birch tree

over the silence of stones

The time it takes

for the stones

to learn reading —

is what your lips whisper

Two Red Berries

Behind autumn’s rusty pleasure

and the leaky old rowboat

that is hauled out of the river year after year,

a dog barking through the morning

— sound check before the elk hunt

there ahead, beyond the forest,

awaits that which is called future

you are on your way there, with two red berries

in your hand, one for yourself

and one for the world

you stand equipped against power

with shining stubborness of the heather,

you know that this won’t be sufficient

not even the four cardinal points are enough

but your arms reach a dream

where time is not rushing and where

all children can speak all the world’s languages:

every tongue enjoys a freedom, which does not exist

you who don’t listen to the incomprehensible

will never understand anything 

we are not only what we are

— we become what we see

two red berries; there you stand

on the treshold of the world, you

walk on air and wind is blowing in your hair

Nordic Light

What shall we say about the light?

The cat sees in the dark

without a flashlight, the glow-worm

can be seen, without neon

We climb out of the darkness into the light

as in the beautiful old song

That Nordic light

that we wander in and out of,

that soft gloomy darkness

provided by mossy pine forests,

those glimmering glades

among groves of birches — all this

with its light and darkness

has coloured our senses

What more can we say about the light

that grows from within, that is created,

that is believed?

And deep down in the darkness

at the bottom of a glacial lake

a Triglopsis Quadricornis noses around

searching for its utopia

among stones and silt

In the rain’s high pine

a blackbird is perched,

charges by the batteries of July light

while we others, we

decenders of shoe-wearing creatures

wander pine forest paths

back and forth

while we wonder:

What should we say about the light?

An open question, the light

stands free, like a glistening

rain-wet scarecrow

out in the newly harvested

fields of oats

Get ready for a new day

think about love a moment,

know thar the road ends

at the same place as it once began

Stand still waiting for the rain,

look for a circle in the grass

where we once stood

cup your hand overthat spot

(as for protection),

think about love, know

that rain will soon start to fall;

open hand

A new day

… just like a week ago

Lucky to have the weather

you can always hang your alphabet on the weather

and the mail you’re waiting for,

the postman also arrived a week ago

The cat is like me

a week older,

but the light gets lighter,

spring is up ahead

it’s just a couple of pine trees in the way

and a whooper swan flying upside down

But then spring arrives

like a letter in the mailbox,

like a whooper swan, right side-up