Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Tomas Transtromer

Tomas Transtromer was born in Stockholm (1931) and published his first book of poems in his early twenties — nothing has slowed his poetry down since, not even a crushing stroke in 1990 which bothers his speech, but not his writing, or piano playing, alebit one handed. Long a practicing psychologist (since the early 60s), before the stroke he worked in juvenile prisons, with drug addicts and the disabled. I've chosen the poems below from The Sorrow Gondola, the first collection of poetry the poet completed after 1990.

April and Silence

Spring lies deserted.

The velvet-dark ditch

crawls by my side

without reflections.

All that shines

are yellow flowers.

I'm carried in my shadow

like a violin

in its black case.

The only thing I want to say

gleans out of reach

like the silver

in a pawnshop.

A Page from the Nightbook

One night in May I stepped ashore

through a cool moonlight

where the grass and flowers were gray

but smelled green.

I drifted the slope

in the colorblind night

while white stones

signaled to the moon.

In a period

a few minutes long

and fifty-eight years wide.

And behind me

beyond the lead-shimmering water

lay the other shore

and those who ruled.

People with a future

instead of faces.

Night Journey

There's a swarming beneath us. The trains are running.

Hotel Astoria shivers

a glass of water near the bed

shines in the tunnels.

He dreamt he was a prisoner in Svallard.

The planet rotated and rumbled.

Glittering eyes walked over the fields of ice.

The beauty of miracles existed.


Walk by, they are buried. . .

A cloud floats over the sun's disc.

Starvation is a tall building

moving in the night

in the bedroom an elevator's dark shaft

opens toward the interior.

Flowers in the ditch. Fanfare and silence.

Walk by, they are buried. . .

The silverware survives in large schools

at the depths where the Atlantic is black.


Ablue light

radiates from my clothing.


Clattering tambourines of ice.

I close my eyes.

There is a silent world

there is a crack

where the dead

are smuggled across the border.

Tomas Transtromer
The Sorrow Gondola (Green Integer)
translated by Michael McGriff & Mikaela Grassl


Lawrence Ferlinghetti

One of the last men standing ~ and it is well worth reading the verve of a wise poet, painter, technician (of the sacred) storyteller, activist and world traveler.

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