Stig Dagerman never published a book of poetry but regularly contributed poems to magazines and newspapers. Some fifty poems are available in Swedish in the collected works (Stig Dagerman. Dikter, noveller, prosafragment, No. 10, Norstedts, 1983).
His poem Flykten valde oss (Flight Sought Us Out) has become an anthem of sorts in Sweden in support of refugees. The poem is frequently recited, reprinted and sung. Many examples are available on youtube.
Few of Stig Dagerman’s poems are available in English while several of his satirical verses have been translated (see Satirical Verse). One exception is Birgittasvit (Birgitta Suite), a poem Stig wrote while he struggled with the completion of Wedding Worries in 1949.
I vilket vatten är den vinge doppad
som dryper svårmod över jordens panna?
In what water has the wing been dipped
that drips its melancholy over earth’s brow?
Thomas and Vera Vance published a translation of parts of the poem Poetry Magazine, January 1964.
American poet and translator Nancy Naomi Carlson and Lo Dagerman have translated the full six stanzas
of the poem, and read it on youtube in 2021 as part of the Jill translator series. Listen to Stig Dagerman
himself reading “Birgitta Svit” (in Swedish) here.
Read Stig’s rebellious Julbudskap (Christmas Message) from 1951 in translation by Lo Dagerman.
A widely popularized poem is Jorden kan du inte göra om (You can’t reinvent the world) written at the request of the Red Cross to support acts of compassion. Stig never gave it a title, and sometimes it is also referred to as En broder mer/A Brother Gained after the last line of the poem.
Stig’s poem En Broder Mer /A Brother Gained as seen in Poetry-on-the-Way on Stockholm mass transit.
Another Dagerman poem that is frequently cited is Höst (Autumn) 1954. Stig wrote it only weeks before his death. The poem was published as part of his more casual verse series (Sw. Dagsedlar) in The Worker but reads, as quite a few of these verses, more like poetry. The first two lines are the most well-known and are inscribed on Stig tombstone:
Att dö är att resa en smula
från grenen till fasta marken.
To die is to briefly journey
from branch onto solid ground.
FILM Birgittasvit. Short film (10 min), Sweden. Directed by Göran du Rees, 1987. En broder mer. Short film (20 min), Sweden. About Algerian refugees in Tunisia. Directed by Jan Troell and Bertil Rubin, 1962.
MUSIC Bengt Söderhäll and Urban Forsgren have put music to Stig’s poems and verses. Their first CD is called En broder mer. Bengt sings at the Stig Dagerman booth at the Gothenburg Book Fair [ Listen ]