From Markings, by Dag Hammarskjöld

“I am being driven forward / Into an unknown land. / The pass grows steeper, / The air colder and sharper. / A wind from my unknown goal / Stirs the strings / Of expectation.

“Still the question: / Shall I ever get there? / There where pure life resounds, / A clear pure note / In the silence.”


Not bad work for a 20-year-old economist, is it?

This poem is the first entry in Dag Hammarskjöld’s diary, published as Markings after his death. It’s stunning to read when you know what book you’re holding. I can only imagine how it struck Swedish Permanent Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Leif Belfrage when he lifted the cover note addressed personally to him on the original manuscript discovered in Hammarskjöld’s home in New York after his death.

We are all of us being driven forward into an unknown land, whether we feel it as acutely as the young Hammarskjöld or not. These days, of course, it doesn’t exactly require a master’s degree in a related field to feel the unknowing and the steepening, the colder and the sharper.

Then again, that’s what these weeks are all about: will we get there? What will happen when we do?

How will we be marked by the journey?