Friday, June 8, 2007

Meeting Places - Poems of Tomas Tranströmer

Some poems today by Sweden's Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robin Fulton. Tranströmer has talked about his poems as being meeting places, because he wishes to make sudden connections between aspects of reality that language ordinarily keeps separate. What better reason to write a poem.

The Couple
They switch off the light and its white shade
glimmers for a moment before dissolving
like a tablet in a glass of darkness. Then up.
The hotel walls rise into the black sky.

The movements of love have settled, and they sleep
but their most secret thoughts meet as when
two colours meet and flow into each other
on the wet paper of a schoolboy's painting.

It is dark and silent. But the town has pulled closer
tonight. With quenched windows. The houses have approached.
They stand close up in a throng, waiting,
a crowd whose faces have no expressions.

The Tree and the Sky
There's a tree walking around in the rain,
it rushes past us in the pouring grey.
It has an errand. It gathers life
out of the rain like a blackbird in an orchard.

When the rain stops so does the tree.
There it is, quiet on clear nights
waiting as we do for the moment
when the snowflakes blossom in space.

Further In
On the main road into the city
when the sun is low.
The traffic thickens, crawls.
It is a sluggish dragon glittering.
I am one of the dragon's scales.
Suddenly the red sun is
right in the middle of the windscreen
streaming in.
I am transparent
and writing becomes visible
inside me
words in invisible ink
which appear
when the paper is held to the fire!
I know I must get far away
straight through the city and then
further until it is time to go out
and walk far in the forest.
Walk in the footprints of the badger.
It gets dark, difficult to see.
In there on the moss lie stones.
One of the stones is precious.
It can change everything
it can make the darkness shine.
It is a switch for the whole country.
Everything depends on it.
Look at it, touch it...

See more of his poems at my new post in honor of his Nobel Prize.


meli said...

Those poems are lovely! We were in a traffic jam in Oslo yesterday. We were one of the dragon's scales.

Ted said...

Indeed you were! I'm really a fan of Transtroemer - he has a fairly recent volume of haiku he wrote just after his stroke that I'm hoping to read soon.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to have come across your site. Yesterday, I was in Stockholm at Stadsbibliotek researching English translations of Swedish poets. I know a bit of Transtromer's work. Here are a few lines I especially like from one of his poems entitled "Baltic III"
I can rub my hands across the rugged rocks./I can hear the whispering of the wind in the spruce trees./It is near. It is/today. The waves are contemporary./...It isn't as it used to be to walk along the shore./One has to yearn for so much, speak to many people at once,live with such thin walls.


Ted said...

Hi Debbie. Yes, Transtroemer's poetry weaves a fantastic spell, magical and yet also very of-daily-life. Glad you paid a visit.

Mats L said...

Was looking for Thomas Tranströmer poetry translated to English and came across your site. Thank you, it's great. I'm from Sweden and was given a Thomas T book in Swedish over 30 years ago, by a friend. I now live in London and have re-discovered this amazing poet and his work, much to the joy of English speaking friends.

Ted said...

Greetings Mats
I love when I receive a book but in a sense only discover it years later! Transtroemer is such a distinctive and kind voice. One of my favorites. Welcome to bookeywookey and make yourself at home!

Anonymous said...

I like the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer.Discuss it at the CS Forum:
Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer won the 2011 Nobel prize for literature.

Ted said...

Halima - Yes, indeed. He has won the Nobel, how wonderful that such a uniquely humane voice has won that honor.