Two Worlds

Two Worlds – Jens Peter Jacobsen (1847-1885)

Jacobsen, who began writing under the influence of Hans Christian Andersen, soon developed into a novelist and short story writer of great originality. Though he was as deeply interested in natural science as in literature, during the course of his short life he was influential chiefly as a writer.

Two Worlds is. typical of his poetic turn of mind, and reveals his technical skill as a story-teller. It is translated by H. Knudsen, first appeared in the Pagan magazine, and is here reprinted by permission of the editor.

Two Worlds

The Salzach is not a merry river. On its eastern bank lies a little village, very gloomy, very poor, and strangely quiet.

Two Worlds – Like a miserable flock of misshapen beggars who have been stopped by the river, without fare for the ferryman, stand the houses down there on the uttermost edge of the bank, their decayed shoulders leaning against each other, and grope hopelessly with their weather beaten, crutch like supports in the grayish river, while their Hull windows stare from the background of their porches under the overhanging thatch-roof brows—stare with a scowling expression of hateful chagrin at the happier houses on the opposite bank which are built singly, or two by two, in cozy company, and are scattered, here and there, over the green plains, far toward the golden misty distance.

But about the poor houses there is no light; only depressing darkness and stillness, weighed down by the sound of the river which slowly, ceaselessly, rolls past, mumbling to itself on its way, so tired of life, so strangely absent minded.

The sun was setting, the locusts began to fill the air with their crystal- clear humming, which was carried over from the opposite shore by sudden weak gusts of wind that kept rising and dying away in the thin reeds on the shore.

A little way up the river a boat was approaching.

A weak, emaciated woman was standing in one of the houses close by the shore, bent over the railing of the porch, and looking toward the boat. She was shading her eyes with her almost transparent hand, for, up there where the boat was, the rays of the sun lay golden and sharply glittering on the water, as if it were sailing on a mirror of gold.

Two Worlds part 3

“No. Now listen,” someone said; “it is true that the ideal conversation gets as far away as possible from what one is talking about; but that, it seems to me, we could best do by turning back to what we started with.”

“Very well, then. The Greeks…”

“First the Phoenicians!”

“What do you know about the Phoenicians?”

“Nothing! But why should the Phoenicians always be skipped?”

Light fell in a few short flashes

The boat was now opposite the house, and just as it passed someone on board lighted his cigarette. The light fell in a few short flashes on the lady at the helm, and in the reddish glare one beheld a fresh, girlish face with a happy smile about the parted lips and a dreamy expression in the clear eyes that looked up to the dark sky. The light went out. A slight splash was heard, as of something thrown into the water, and the boat drifted past.

About a year later. The sun was setting

Two Worlds part 2

The bell began to toll in the small village church.

She turned from the sunset, and rocked her head to and fro, as if she sought to escape the sound of the bells, while she mumbled almost as an answer to the continuous ringing:

“I cannot wait. I cannot wait.”

But the sound continued.

As if in pain, she walked back and forth on the veranda. The shadows of despair had grown deeper, and she drew her breath heavily, like one who is forced to tears and cannot cry.

In long, long years she had suffered from a painful malady which never let her rest, whether lying down or walking. She had consulted one “wise” woman after another. She had dragged herself from one “holy” spring to another, but without avail. Finally she had gone on the September pilgrimage to St. Bartholomew; and here an old one- eyed man had advised her to tie together a bouquet of edelweiss and a splinter of glass, a huck of corn, and some ferns from a graveyard,

Two Worlds part 1

Jens Peter Jacobsen (1847-1885)

Jacobsen, who began writing under the influence of Hans Christian Andersen, soon developed into a novelist and short story writer of great originality. Though he was as deeply interested in natural science as in literature, during the course of his short life he was influential chiefly as a writer.

Two Worlds is. typical of his poetic turn of mind, and reveals his technical skill as a story-teller. It is translated by H. Knudsen, first appeared in the Pagan magazine, and is here reprinted by permission of the editor.

Two Worlds

The Salzach is not a merry river. On its eastern bank lies a little village, very gloomy, very poor, and strangely quiet.

Like a miserable flock of misshapen beggars who have been stopped by the river, without fare for the ferryman, stand the houses down there on the uttermost edge of the bank, their decayed shoulders leaning against each other, and grope hopelessly with the