2 a.m.: moonlight. The train has stopped
out in a field. Far off sparks of light from a town,
flickering coldly on the horizon.
As when a man goes so deep into his dream
he will never remember that he was there
when he returns again to his room.
Or when a person goes so deep into a sickness
that his days all become some flickering sparks, a swarm,
feeble and cold on the horizon.
The train is entirely motionless.
2 o'clock: strong moonlight, few stars.
Tomas Transtromer (trans Robert Bly)
I've just found this poet - who is apparently one of Sweden's greatest and was a candidate for the Nobel laureateship. Why haven't I heard of him before? Translations don't always work either - but these do. Robert Bly, his translator, was a personal friend and I think this closeness has made for really good translations - not just a transcription but the creation of a new poem. Shelley is very good on this problem. He wrote 'It were as wise to cast a violet into a crucible that you might discover the formal principle of its colour and odour, as to seek to transfuse from one language into another the creations of a poet. The plant must spring again from its seed, or it will bear no flower - and this is the burden of the curse of Babel'.
There are more poems on the BookeyWookey blog.
For more Tuesday Poems go to the Tuesday Poem blog.