The Nobel Prize in Literature 1974
Eyvind Johnson, Harry Martinson
In the inmost of the smallest of all spaces
runs a mute and constant play of color, inaccessible to eyes.
It is the light shut in that once in the moment of creation
was born inward and abode there, going on,
once it had broken up into the smallest of spectra
in keeping with prismatic law
at frequencies that by the sighted would be called colors
if they encountered eyes able to see.
It moved in periods
unimaginably small for time and space
but still with time and space enough for the least of the small.
In fact it found it had ample room and time.
It moved in cycles of nanoseconds and microspaces
from white light and the colors of the spectrum and back to white light.
A kind of breathing for light.
The photons breathed and pulsated with one another,
alternating signs and levels.
So the light kept going in spectral balance
from dense light to split
and back to dense light and split,
in spectral cycles infinitely repeated.
It was like a play of fans,
in keeping with the same law that holds for rainbows,
but with spread and folded fans
alternating with one another
in keeping with the law of light inscribed in them.
It was the light when it dances enclosed
when it is not traveling abroad and seen.
It belongs to the nature of light
that it can be shut in
and still not die out in its movement
that it preserves itself thus in the darkness
as thought, intent and aptitude,
that it remembers its changes
and performs its dance, its interplay.
With this art the light keeps together
the innumerable swarms of matter
and sings with light's spectral wings
the endless song in honor of the fullness of the world.
By Harry Martinson
From Dikter om ljus och mörker, 1971
Translated by Stephen Klass
Published with the permission of Eva Martinson