October 6, 2011

Tomas Transtromer

Tomas Transtromer, the Swedish poet, has won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature. Here's my favorite of his poems:

Breathing Space July

The man who lies on his back under huge trees
is also up in them. He branches out into thousands of tiny branches.
He sways back and forth,
he sits in a catapult that hurtles forward in slow motion.

The man who stands down at the dock screws up his eyes against the water.
Ocean docks get older faster than men.
They have silver-grey posts and boulders in their gut.
The dazzling light drives straight in.

The man who spends the whole day in an open boat
moving over the luminous bays
will fall asleep at last inside the shade of his blue lamp
as the islands crawl like huge moths over the globe.


  1. Dear Mr Miller pleace allow me to share one of my favorite transtrømmer-poems, from one admirer to an other:

    I inherited a dark forest where I seldom walk. But a day is coming when the living and the dead trade places. Then the forest will be set in motion. We are not without hope. The most serious crimes will remain unsolved despite the efforts of many policemen. In the same way there is somewhere in our lives a great unsolved love. I inherited a dark forest, but today I am walking in the other forest, the light one. And the living things that sing, wiggle, wave and crawl! It's spring and the air is very strong. I have an examination at the University of Oblivion and am as emptyhanded as the shirt on the clothesline.

    I am in love with your books. Pleace continue to write.

  2. Thanks, Miriam. Beautiful poem. Here's one more:

    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 colors 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.