Friday, October 7, 2011

Another Nobel Prize

I don't know why I am not a fan of Tomas Tranströmer's. Perhaps because he looks down from a high perch, like a gyrfalcon, smothering the life out of earth with his pitiless gaze, perhaps because I have no access to the music of his native language, perhaps because he is a cold Swede whose images lie static on the page, like simple snapshots in a stranger's photo album, over which you find yourself feigning interest, perhaps because so many of his poems end unfinished.

I came to him through Robert Bly's Leaping Poetry many years ago which cited the justly oft-anthologized poem about the stopped train. (You can read it here.) But Bly is such an insistent proselytizer that he sometimes turns me off. I also find some of his translations slack.

Even so, there is one poem of Tranströmer's I carry with me all the time:


Weary of all who come with words, words but no language
I make my way to the snow-covered island.
The untamed has no words.
The unwritten pages spread out on every side!
I come upon the tracks of deer's hooves in the snow.
Language but no words.

(Translated by Robin Fulton, from The New Collected Poems, published in 1997 by Bloodaxe Books.)

No comments:

Post a Comment