Friday, October 14, 2011

Poetry Friday: Tomas Transtromer! Finally!

Tomas Transtromer 2011
I've enjoyed the work of Tomas Transtromer ever since reading Robert Hass's wonderful essay about the Swedish poet's work in Poets Teaching Poets. Now that Transtromer has won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature (long overdue) I hope people will hunt for his work and read it - either Robert Bly's idiosyncratic translations for The Half-Finished Heaven (Bly is a good friend of Transtromer as well as a poet himself) or the wonderful collection titled Selected Poems 1954-1986, edited by Hass, which presents over one hundred poems translated by twelve different translators (which makes the reading very interesting.)   Here is just a little taste  - a short poem translated by Malena Morling: 


Spring lies deserted.
The dark velvet ditch
creeps by my side
not reflecting anything.
All that shines
are yellow flowers.

I am carried in my shadow
like a violin
in its black case.

All I want to say
gleams out of reach
like the silver
in a pawnshop.

Click here for a link to a fine review in The Guardian (of the 1997 book New Collected Poems, translated by Robin Fulton) of one of his books, By the way, if you're interested in translation, be sure to read Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation by William Gass.
You'll find the Poetry Friday round-up over at the marvelous David Elzey's blog, Fomagrams. Head over there to see what other people have posted.

Transtromer in His Younger Days


  1. Was not familiar with Transtromer's work at all, so I'm glad you featured one of his poems today. Has inspired me to seek out more! Thanks, Julie :).

  2. Transtromer looks so dashing - those quiet eyes that speak so much. Sorry to be so distracted. Haha. I agree with Jama, thank you so much for introducing us to this mysterious Swedish poet who speak in codes/verse. Will also look out for his works here.

  3. Thanks for the poetry news! I'll be on the lookout for more of his work.

    Like Myra, I kept going back to his picture. I'd love to know the story of all that happened between that somber young man and the radiant older man. I'll bet there are clues in his poetry...

    (and I hope, when I get there, that I wear my wrinkles and grey as handsomely as he does)

  4. Thanks so much for posting this. He is new to me and I am really enjoying the discovery!