Poems of Niels Hav




False pride


sooner or later.

As if reality

in its innermost

structure were governed

by reason.


Despots and empires

grind to an end;

brutal murderers

and violent political


last for only a time,

then the regime falls

apart from

the inside.


The dictator’s name


into the great forgetting –

faster than the representatives

of goodness

whom the heart remembers.


New incarnations

of human evil

appear –

brutality and arrogance

mate happily

with our own desire

for a jackpot.


But the new ones

and their servile


will also disappear


their time comes.

Trust that.



is the marrow

which every morning

lifts us all

out of sleep

each with our own

flopping catch

of joy and hope.


© Niels Hav

Translation: P.K. Brask & Patrick Friesen






All Religions are Hypotheses


All religions are hypotheses

that God could probably do without.

The snobs maintain

that life is totally

meaningless.  Well, that’s up to them.


That I am going to die was a matter of course

from day one.  Everything around us

dies; some people live in apartments

festering with dead flies.


What matters is to face this

without resignation or becoming cynical.

In the midst of living, surrounded

by children’s spicy expectations.


© Niels Hav

Translated by P.K. Brask & Patrick Friesen






Words on Paper


To write is an utterly futile

activity, it’s true.

Words on paper make no difference

anywhere in the cosmos –

a book is just a book.

It’s shelved in a bookcase

among millions of other books,

until it grows mould or rots

and is thrown away and burned

along with all sorts of garbage.


To write books is only one

of many ways of understanding life.

Those of us who scribble are all

in a competition of the handicapped,

some see themselves as important,

with no reasonable grounds.

Some level-headedness is called for.

The water truck driver who flushes

the city’s sewers is more useful

than most of us;

give the Nobel Prize to him!


© Niels Hav

Translated by P.K. Brask & Patrick Friesen







Nonsense Detector


The advantage of speaking a dialect is

that words are spoken  and lived, before they are

thought and written.  Dialects have no other

purpose than to handle the endless stream

of things and situations reality

is screwed together from.


All talk that isn’t about real things

is actually nonsense.  And pathetic nonsense

doesn’t thrive well in a dialect.

All dialects have inbuilt nonsense detectors.

That’s why very few people with political

ambitions speak with a dialect.


For the same reason it would probably be useful

to translate some new poems into dialect.

The ones that stand up to that treatment

are prob’ly not s’bad..


Of course even in dialect

it is possible to call a shovel

a spade or a spade a shovel.

But it wouldn’t work for long.

Most people who speak a dialect

have held one in their hands.



© Niels Hav

Translated by Per Brask & Patrick Friesen









You can spend an entire life

in the company of words

not ever finding

the right one.


Just like a wretched fish

wrapped in Hungarian newspapers.

For one thing it is dead,

for another it doesn’t understand



© Niels Hav

Translation: P.K. Brask & Patrick Friesen



Niels Hav is a Danish poet and short story writer with awards from The Danish Arts Council. He is the author of six collections of poetry and three books of short fiction. His books have been translated into many languages including English, Arabic, Turkish, Dutch, Farsi, Serbian, Albanian, Kurdish and Portuguese. His second English poetry collection, We Are Here, was published by Book Thug in Toronto; his poems and stories have been published in a large number of magazines and newspapers in different countries of the world, including The Literary Review, Ecotone, Exile, The Los Angeles Review, Absinthe: New European Writing, Shearsman and PRISM International. He has travelled widely and participated in numerous international poetry festivals in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America. He has frequently been interviewed by the media. Niels Hav was raised on a farm in western Denmark, today he resides in the most colourful and multiethnic part of the capital, Copenhagen.


“…Niels Hav’s We Are Here, … brings to us a selection from the works of one of Denmark’s most talented living poets and is all the more welcome for that reason….” 

  • Frank Hugus, The Literary Review


A alma dança em seu berço, Editora Penalux, Brasil 2018.

Shpirti vallzon në djep,Shtëpia Botuese OMSCA-1, Tirana, Albania 2016.

Şî’ri bo trisnokekan nîye (Kurdish translation), Ktebxanai Andesha,  Sulaymaniyah, Irak 2016.

   Al-Rooh Tarqos Fee Mahdiha, Jordanian Writers Association, Amman, Jordan 2015.

Zanʹhā dar Kupanhāk, Butimar, Tehran, Iran 2015.

Kopenhag Kadinlari, Yasakmeyve, Turkey 2013.

Grondstof. Poetry translated by Jan Baptist, Holland 2012.

Udate žene u Kopenhagenu, Bosnia 2012.

De Iraanse zomer. Short stories translated by Jan Baptist, Holland 2011.

Ḥı̄na aṣı̄ru aʻmá. Poetry, Arab Scientific Publishers, Beirut 2010.

Als ik blind word. Poetry, Holland 2010

De gifte koner i København. Poetry – Jorinde & Joringel, 2009.

We Are Here. Poetry translated by Patrick Friesen & P.K. Brask, Toronto 2006.

U Odbranu Pesnika. Poetry, Belgrade 2008.

Grundstof. Poetry – Gyldendal, 2004.

Nenadeina Sreka. Poetry, Skopje, Macedonia1997. 

Når jeg bliver blind. Poetry – Gyldendal, 1995.
God’s blue Morris. Poetry, Crane Editions, Canada 1993.

Den iranske sommer. Short stories – Gyldendal, 1990.
Ildfuglen, okay. Poetry – Hekla, 1987.
Sjælens Geografi. Poetry – Hekla, 1984.
Øjeblikket er en åbning. Short stories – Hekla, 1983.

Glæden sidder i kroppen. Poetry – Jorinde & Joringel, 1982

   Afmægtighed forbudt. Short stories – Hekla, 1981.





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