The girl in the dissection room

Yes, it is her! Oh light here, quick!
Let not the knife yet even flick
across this poor girl’s heart!
Oh, what cruel irony does glow
in this lamp’s gaze that stares down so
on dead pain set apart.

So cold, yet when it breathed did not
the proud world gaze at it a lot?
And bold eyes soon sliced through
the veil of golden dreams that she
the poor girl against poverty
wore when as child she grew.

Like flower frozen in the ice
this cheek bears traits that in a trice
should be well-known to me.
For childhood games that brought me joy,
before I was no longer boy,
– Oh surely it was she.

She lived just opposite from us,
of humble birth, like in its moss
the roof’s heartsease could thrive.
Fine folk could hardly contemplate
that blood so fair and delicate
from paupers could derive.

Ah, many a face as this saw I
like monthly rose’s splendour die,
as butterfly-dust brief!
Fate’s hand too firmly must have grasped,
and sin’s trace to such lives have clasped
like snail’s slime on the leaf.

“Piken på anatomiekammeret”
(The girl in the dissection room)
Henrik Wergeland (1808 – 1845)

Henrik Arnold Thaulow Wergeland was a Norwegian writer, most celebrated for his poetry but also a prolific playwright, polemicist, historian, and linguist. He is often described as a leading pioneer in the development of a distinctly Norwegian literary heritage and of modern Norwegian culture.

(Photo: Regina Jose Galindo, Lessons of Dissection, 2011)

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