Elizabeth Bishop, De kaart

 
De kaart

Lân leit yn wetter; it is beskade mei grien.
Skaden, of binne it skolten, lâns syn iggen
toane de ronfel fan lange beseewierde richels
dêr’t wier nei it sljochte blau delhinget út grien.
Of bûcht it lân foaroer, tilt it de see op fan ûnderen,
lûkt it dy ûnfersteurber om him hinne?
Skuort bylâns de tanige, sânige, tinne
râne it lân oan de see, fan ûnderen?

It skaad fan Newfoundland leit flak en blak.
Labrador is giel dêr’t de dreamerige Eskimo
it ynfette hat. Streakje kinne wy dizze leaflike baaien,
ûnder glês as soenen sy blossemje moatte
of in skjinne kouwe biede oan ûnsichtbere fisken.
De nammen fan kustplakken rinne út nei see,
de nammen fan stêden kruse de oanbuorjende bergen
– de printer hat hjir deselde oeralligens hân
as wannear’t emoasje te fier syn oarsaak oerstiicht.
Dizze skiereilannen fetsje it wetter tusken tomme en finger,
as froulju dy’t de glêdens fan lapkeguod befiele.

Kartearre wetters binne kalmer as it lân is,
liene it lân fan harren weagen de eigen formaasje:
Noarwegens hazze fljocht súdop yn agitaasje,
profilen ûndersykje de see, dêr wêr’t lân is.
Wurde se tawiisd of kieze steaten sels harren kleuren?
– Wat by de aard of de ynlânske wetters it bêste past.
Topografy etalearret gjin foarkar; noard is like tichtby as west.
Tearder as dy fan skiedskriuwers binne kaartmakkerskleuren.

 

The Map

Land lies in water; it is shadowed green.
Shadows, or are they shallows, at its edges
showing the line of long sea-weeded ledges
where weeds hang to the simple blue from green.
Or does the land lean down to lift the sea from under,
drawing it unperturbed around itself?
Along the fine tan sandy shelf
is the land tugging at the sea from under?

The shadow of Newfoundland lies flat and still.
Labrador’s yellow, where the moony Eskimo
has oiled it. We can stroke these lovely bays,
under a glass as if they were expected to blossom,
or as if to provide a clean cage for invisible fish.
The names of seashore towns run out to sea,
the names of cities cross the neighboring mountains
—the printer here experiencing the same excitement
as when emotion too far exceeds its cause.
These peninsulas take the water between thumb and finger
like women feeling for the smoothness of yard-goods.

Mapped waters are more quiet than the land is,
lending the land their waves’ own conformation:
and Norway’s hare runs south in agitation,
profiles investigate the sea, where land is.
Are they assigned, or can the countries pick their colors?
—What suits the character or the native waters best.
Topography displays no favorites; North’s as near as West.
More delicate than the historians’ are the map-makers’ colors.

 

Ut North & South, 1946

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