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4.37  ·  Rating details ·  1,207 ratings  ·  113 reviews
Digte, stramt spændt op i et matematisk og alfabetisk system, som så meget stærkere udtrykker kærlighed til livet og menneskene og angst for menneskehedens grusomheder.
Paperback, 80 pages
Published February 1st 2016 by Gyldendal (first published 1981)
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Average rating 4.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,207 ratings  ·  113 reviews

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☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
This is weird. At first I though this to be a book of bullshit. Then, I managed to decipher and come to like a bit of this abecedeariousness.
Still, no matter what the lazy say, usage of capital letters is never overrated.
Also, not everything managed to congeal into a semblance of sense, for me. It might (must!) be something I lack, and not the author. Still, so far this gets 3 stars:
+1 star for the innovativeness
+1 star for the brevity
+1 star for the verses I liked
-1 star for the lack of capital
May 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How is it possible that Danish poet Inger Christensen (1935-2009) did not win the Nobel Prize in Literature??

People often use the term "world-building" when discussing fantasy novelists, e.g., J. R. R. Tolkien or Ursula K. Le Guin. Alphabet, though a work of verse rather than prose, is a tremendous achievement in world-building. Guided by a fertile blend of mathematical and grammatical principles, Christensen uses this book's slim 67-page length to construct an astonishingly intricate world from
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
early fall exists; aftertaste, afterthought;
seclusion […] every
detail exists; memory, memory’s light;
afterglow exists; oaks, elms,
junipers, sameness, loneliness exist;
branches exist, wind lifting them exists,
and the lone drawing made by the branches
June nights exist, June nights exist,
the sky at long last as if lifted to heavenly
heights, simultaneously sinking, as tenderly as
when dreams can be seen before they are dreamed; a space
as if dizzied, as if filled with whiteness, an hourless
chiming o
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
I read this in brief segments over the course of a few months. The genius of this work can be found not only in the mathematically inspired composition, but in Nied's brilliant translation. Christensen used the Fibonacci sequence to inspire the structure of the poems, but there is a poignant richness brought by the words themselves to the themes of environment, nature, progress, humanity in the midst of metaphysical simplicity. I think this is the most I've ever enjoyed a book of poetry.
From someone somewhere sometime ago I heard an emphatic recommendation of this book and so I found a copy. But I set it aside unread and more or less forgot about it. Then yesterday the cat knocked over a stack of books and alphabet landed at my feet. I opened it and began reading and was completely enthralled. I don't understand it all, not even close, but the imagery is astonishing and the levels of meaning - well, I could probably read this every day and find something new.

How can this be a
Imen  Benyoub
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: danmark
now the sky is a cavern
where withered birds
will rot like fallen fruit
where tractionless clouds
will atomise cities
and eddy them slyly in flight
like water through water
like sand through sand

even slugs with their slime-trails
are porous as mirrors
whose human reflections are lost
just the stalk of a nettle
explains leaflessly
that in our despair we have made
a flowerless earth
sexless as chlorine
Apr 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
alphabet by Inger Christensen

alphabet is a hymn to the microscopic and macro: the enormous and the unfathomably insignificant; a lulling, effervescent refrain that hisses with the misty sounds of creation and continuation. Life is a process; a continuous series of cycles to which Christensen pays homage in this haunting Fibonaccian progression.

The poem starts out simply enough:
“apricot trees exist, apricots tree exist”
This is Christensen’s way of beginning the alphabetical sequence that is one
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poems, ricky
I let loose a gentle, marveling "Oh, shit" as I started this book. As in, "Is she really going to...?" I only read the back cover later, detailing Christensen's use of the Fibonacci sequence as a structure for the book, but you don't need to know the precise mathematical formula going into this. The febrile fugue of natural history that alights on each letter of the first half of the alphabet (until "n"--infinity) is so clearly a spiral. Some books of poems charge forward relentlessly, and do it ...more
Hafsa | حفصہ
Read Harder 2019: 10. A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman .
Lou Last
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: golden, poems


ice ages exist, ice ages exist,
ice of polar seas, kingfishers’ ice;
cicadas exist, chicory, chromium
and chrome yellow irises, or blue; oxygen
especially; ice floes of polar seas also exist,
and polar bears, stamped like furs with their
identification numbers, condemned to their lives;
the kingfisher’s miniplunge into blue-frozen

March streams exists, if streams exist;
if oxygen in streams exists, especially
oxygen, especially where cicadas’
i-sounds exist, especially where
the chicory sky, like bluing di
Michael Haase
alphabet (no caps), is a poetry collection renowned for it's application of the "Fibonacci Sequence" to themes of life, death, destruction, and the environment. I called it a "collection", but in actuality it's more like a collage. Much like the Fibonnaci Sequence, Christensen's poems appear like a string of random, disconnected figures or ideas, but whereas the Fibonnaci Sequence follows a rigorous formula, Christensen's poems are only guided by vague and abstract themes. Yes, her poetry resemb ...more
I have to read this again to get more out of it, I probably have to keep rereading it, but it's stunning: massive in scope and bursting with telling detail. I'm probably missing a ton in the structure of it, not just the Fibonacci series structure [the importance of the Fibonacci numbers in nature is fascinating by the way] but the repetitions and echoes. But that didn't need to be explained for the poetry to be an extravagantly eloquent consideration of the beauty of nature and the horror of us ...more
I write like wind
that writes with clouds’
tranquil script

or quickly across the sky
in vanishing strokes
as if with swallows

I write like wind
that writes in water
with stylised monotony

or roll with the heavy
alphabet of waves
their threads of foam

write in air
as plants write
stalks and leaves

or loopingly as with flowers
in plumed circles
filaments dots

I write like the water’s edge
writes a tideline
of seaweed and shells

or delicately as mother of pearl
feet of starfish
secretions of mussels

I write like the early
Lots of lists of garbled word salad, arranged alphabetically. Sometimes they hit, but often they just skirt off into dreamgoof slipslop. Slow, out loud readings really make some of them swing.
Aug 23, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Interesting concept, but the poems are running together and aren't making me think, with one exception. Putting this down at 25%.
Richelle Wilson
Nov 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Inger Christensen's Alfabet as part of my graduate reading list, in part as a study in form and in part because it is a great example of ecocritical poetry. I am amazed at her use of the Fibonacci sequence to structure the poem. Far from being a randomly imposed, kitschy constraint, the Fibonacci numbers draw attention to an overarching thematic element of the poem: namely, that true structure and order are found in nature (the Fibonacci numbers manifest themselves in the branching of tre ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: denmark, poetry
Christensen often used mathematical models to structure her poetry. In Alfabet, Christensen used an alphabetical sequence where each section begins with a successive letter of the alphabet, along with the Fibonacci mathematical sequence.

"the first poem has one line, the second poem two, the third three, the fourth five, each number in the sequence being the sum of the previous two (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34). The work stops with the letter n, itself a mathematical symbol, which, as the 14th letter o
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inger Christensen’s book “Alphabet” approaches language in an interesting and mathematical way. "Alphabet" is a systematic poem that is dictated by the Fibonacci sequence. After further research about the process and restrictions that Christensen succumbed to, it is obvious that her messages and talent are not limited by the form she used. In fact, it would be safe to say that this process may have been to her advantage. She was able to express her concerns and obsessions more effectively becaus ...more
Bryan Coleman
Mar 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inger Christensen's alphabet is built up under two formal constraints. It is an alphabetical sequence: each of the fourteen sections essentially begins with a successive letter of the alphabet, from A through N, with that letter then often dominating the section.
The poem is also built up based on Fibonacci's sequence (where every number is the sum of the two previous numbers), which goes: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, etc. Forgetting about the first two num
Apr 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I began this book with some preconceived notions from the back of the book: first of all, since the poetry is translated from Danich, I assumed the verse would be somewhat stilted and awkward. Second, the concept of basing poetry of a mathematic sequence (the Fibonacci sequence) seemed as if it would yield forced, robotic poems. I was entirely wrong--Christensen's work is delicate and flowing, weaved with beautiful, specific language. I was struck over and over by the insistent quality of the re ...more
Jul 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hallie by: Hh
Shelves: to-read-again, poetry
I don't generally read a lot of poetry at a sitting, but I read this book almost straight through (granted, it's very short) and enjoyed it a lot. I need to read it a few more times to grasp what's actually going on, but I liked the way it gradually coalesced towards something resembling a plot, and I just generally thought it was good poetry. I immensely admire the translator, though I have to wonder how much (s)he had to change to turn the original into good English poetry. I would love to do ...more
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With any translated pieces, I am always skeptical of what is lost and kept. With that said, I wish I could read and understand the original. Even so, the translated piece kept with the fibonacci sequence and alphabet patterns. Because of these rules, the poems got longer and longer. This made the pacing interesting, allowing me to read it in one sitting without getting bored of it. I also enjoyed the different patterns and visual breaks Christensen used towards the end of the book. In terms of t ...more
May 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alphabet was a lot more approachable than a lot of the other books we've have been reading lately. I appreciated the simple language and predictable form as compared to the other books which seemed to try to shock the reader in every possible way - and not always in successful ways. That said, it was a fairly constraining form which would have been made even more difficult given that it was a translation. It would be interesting to see how much the work changed in the different steps of translat ...more
The abecedarian part of Christensen's book is the most incidental to enjoying this book overall. It's really just making all these different wonderful things exist. Perhaps an alphabet gives the easiest means to getting into this.

But, of course, the secret engine in this book is that Christensen uses Fibonacci's sequence to increase the number of lines in each of the poems. So the poems may start off with a simple sentiment about existence, and then a simple elaboration on that praise, the sequ
Victoria Elmore
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Christensen's work for two reasons; one because I applaud her dedication to the structure of her poem(s)- she faced a daunting task in writing an entire book under such harsh restrictions and her perseverance and hard work is evident. Second, even with no knowledge of the constraints she placed upon herself, I could enjoy her writing simply for its poetic eloquence.

Her work is both emotional and scientific, a hard combination to win with, and yet I read Alphabet in one sitting,
Susan Berger-jones
This book made me understand that I and all of the pronouns — our and you, the he and she, the my my, and them — are germs germinating inside all words; that language is what we think we create, when in fact, it also creates us. I love how Christensen honors this relationship without clearly dividing ‘what is what’ from ‘who is who’. Where is the world? Is it an infinite sequence of nouns? A place always out of reach? A path I am desperate to hold? Or a line of poetry which like a ball of yarn r ...more
Carrie Chappell
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The opening of this collection is very beautiful and striking, indeed. Poem number 5 might be my favorite:


early fall exists; aftertaste, afterthought;
seclusion and angels exist;
widows and elk exist; every
detail exists; memory, memory's light;
afterglow exists; oaks, elms,
junipers, sameness, loneliness exist;
eider ducks, spiders, and vinegar
exist, and the future, the future
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just keeps getting better as you re-read it and indicates how the formalism of Fibonacci and sincerity after Oppen conspire. I was as interested in the translator from the Danish, Susanna Nied, as in the author, because the thing reads as an English poem in an almost spooky way. On the basis of the Christensen bullseye, why would one deny that Nied is an English poet?
Marlo Provorse
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such an interesting and revolutionary concept. I wish I could have read it ( and understood) the original Danish as I have been told that the alliteration and the connection to the alphabet is much more apparent. Definitely worth the read, it hits on some very deep subject matter in a very unique way.
sami al-khalili
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book of poems introduced the exponentially great Fibonacci format.

It's the first of Inger Christensen. Certainly not the last.

It was very indefatigable read because it's not clear cut like grass in the suburbs. Danish into English plus a Fibonacci format equates a reason of rereads, but surely, worth the while.
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Inger Christensen was born in Vejle, Denmark, in 1935. Initially she studied medicine, but then trained as a teacher and worked at the College of Art in Holbæck from 1963–64. Although she has also written a novel, stories, essays, radio plays, a drama and an opera libretto, Christensen is primarily known for her linguistically skilled and powerful poetry.

Christensen first became known to a wider

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“doves exist, dreamers, and dolls;
killers exist, and doves, and doves;
haze, dioxin, and days; days
exist, days and death; and poems
exist; poems, days, death”
“There's something specific
about the doves' way
of living my life
as a natural result

of today since it's raining”
More quotes…