National Poetry Day, Tomas Transtromer wins Nobel Prize

Happy National Poetry Day everyone.   You may remember some time ago, I posted a poem by Swedish Tomas Transtromer on the blog.  I loved his work, which I hadn't come across before.  Just now, on Twitter, I've heard that he's won the Nobel prize for Literature 2011.  Great stuff!

This is a copy of my previous blogpost.


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'.


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