Monday, July 13, 2020

Tomas Transtrὄmer*

Tomas Transtrὄmer (1931―2015) is a Swedish poet whose work plays on the edge of comprehension for his readers using elements of modernism, expressionism, and surrealism. His poems convey a sense of wonder and mystery at the movement of history and the beauty of the Scandinavian landscape ― through portrayals of musicians and artists, and images from nature.

His poetry has been translated into more than sixty languages. Some of those who have translated his work into English include, Robin Fulton, May Swenson, John F. Deane, and Robert Bly. In 2007 the Griffin Trust gave him their Lifetime Recognition Award, and in 2011 he received the Nobel Prize. He wrote 15 poetry collections over his career.

The following was translated by Robert Bly.

from Schubertiana (IV)

How much we have to take on trust every minute we live in
-----order not to drop through the earth!
Take on trust the snow masses clinging to rocksides over the
Take on trust the unspoken promises, and the smile of
-----agreement, trust that the telegram does not concern us, and
that the sudden ax blow from inside is not coming.
Trust the axles we ride on down the thruway among the swarm
-----of steel bees magnified three hundred times.
But none of that stuff is really worth the trust we have.
The five string instruments say that we can take something else
-----on trust, and they walk with us a bit on the road.
As when the lightbulb goes out on the stair, and the hand
-----follows ― trusting it ― the blind banister rail that finds its
-----way in the dark.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Tomas Transtrὄmer: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.