The Sailor and the Wind

by Carl Boberg and translated by Mark Safstrom

Mark Safstrom translated Carl Boberg's Seglaren och rösten (1892) in 2006.

Wind: Brave sailor, on the waves you ride;
where leads the course you follow?
Which lights above will be your guide
on nights cloaked in storm’s shadow?

Sailor: A clever mind, native reason,
the compass in my own chest,
the star of hope, wisdom’s beacon,
on them have I placed my trust.

Wind: Your mind will wear, your instincts fail,
ebbing, flowing, drying up.
Against death, wisdom won’t prevail.
At last you’ll stand without hope.

Sailor: Worry not! My conscience shall last
– he will navigate, for sure,
through rolling waves, the windy blast,
around rocks, by will most pure.

Wind: Only a fool in need of signs
to lead through the waves that whip,
would settle for a light that shines
from the bow of his own ship.

Be vigilant, pray as you sail!
Many ships as good as yours
are often lost through storm and gale
and are wrecked on rocky shores.

Sailor: Where can one find security,
true direction, strength and aid?

Wind: ‘Tis by grace through God Almighty
that safe passage can be made.

Only a hollow shell you are,
when you trust your mortal might.
Chart your course by a heav’nly star,
instead of frail earthly light.

Carl Boberg (1859-1940), a popular evangelist to youth in Sweden and member of parliament, published numerous collections of devotional poetry and prose. Boberg is most know for his internationally cherished hymn, “How Great Thou Art” (O, store Gud).

See all articles by Carl Boberg

Mark Safstrom is Chief Editor of Pietisten, and teaches Swedish language and Scandinavian literature at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

See all articles by Mark Safstrom