Saturday, March 28, 2015

RIP Tomas Tranströmer

The Swedish Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer has died

People are tweeting beautiful lines but ones mostly tinged with melancholy, as if a poet's death deserves lines that are prescient.

I was looking through my copy of the Penguin Modern European Poets series, with poems by Paavo Haavikko and Tomas Tranströmer, and I wanted to post this one.

Face to Face
translated by Robin Fulton

In February living stood still.

The birds flew unwillingly and the soul

chafed against the landscape as a boat

chafes against the pier it lies moored to.

The trees stood with their backs turned towards me.

The deep snow was measured with dead straws.

The footprints grew old out on the crust.

Under a tarpaulin language pined.

One day something came to the window.

Work was dropped, I looked up.

The colors flared. Everything turned round.
The earth and I sprang towards each other.


When I read the news this morning, it was via a link to the NYT, whose title of the obit described him, rather hilariously (and inappropriately) as a 'crystalline Swedish poet'. No doubt they realised that he wasn't quite the Swarowski statuette they had thought him, and the NYT has since changed its headline.


1 comment:

km said...

That is a powerful poem. Thanks for posting this.