I’ll be honest and admit that I had never heard of Tomas Transtromer until he won the Nobel Prize in Literature this past October but recently I have been reading up on him and his work. Poetry has never been my favorite form of literature but I still have an appreciation for it and enjoy some of it. Below are my favorite of the Transtromer poems that I’ve come across so far.
Open and Closed Spaces
A man feels the world with his work like a glove.
He rests for a while at midday having laid aside the gloves on the shelf.
There they suddenly grow, spread
and black-out the whole house from inside.
The blacked-out house is away out among the winds of spring.
‘Amnesty,’ runs the whisper in the grass: ‘amnesty.’
A boy sprints with an invisible line slanting up in the sky
where his wild dream of the future flies like a kite bigger than the suburb.
Further north you can see from a summit the blue endless carpet of pine forest
where the cloud shadows
are standing still.
No, are flying.
2 a.m.: moonlight. The train has stopped
out in the middle of the plain. Far away, points of light in a town,
flickering coldly at the horizon.
As when someone has gone into a dream so deep
he’ll never remember having been there
when he comes back to to his room.
As when someone has gone into an illness so deep
everything his days were becomes a few flickering points, a swarm,
cold and tiny at the horizon
The train is standing quite still.
2 a.m.: bright moonlight, few stars.
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
I am transparent
and writing becomes visible
words in invisible ink
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…