Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Deleted World

I’ve just read The Deleted World a new collection by Tomas Transtromer (translated by Robin Robertson), Sweden's greatest living poet. Only 15 poems, most of them short, which hardly seems worth a book.

But there’s no filler. Every poem is terrific, testimony to a stark, haunting vision, which isn’t content to rest on easily won melancholy. It's secular, but the spiritual is present as much in the absences as in the presences. I'll try to write more about it soon.

From A Winter Night, which starts with “The Storm puts its mouth to the house/ and blows to get a tone”:

A darker storm stands over the world.
It puts its mouth to our soul
and blows to get a tone. We are afraid.
the storm will blow us empty.

8 comments:

Lee said...

I've just received a copy of his new collected poems, The Great Enigma, and plan to settle down with it this afternoon.

Cailleach said...

Thanks for the tip Rob, Lee, another two for the list!

Rob said...

Transtromer is terrific. I've liked his stuff for some time. It's great poetry for winter, those half-lit days that Transtromer must have found more ways to describe than any other poet on earth.

Dave said...

I'm working my way through the latest edition of the Collected Poems, Robin Fulton translation (The Great Enigman: New Collected Poems). As far as I can tell, Tranströmer has never written a throwaway poem. And while I wouldn't want to take poetry quite so seriously all the time myself, he's definitely a very inspiring example.

The stanza you quoted does sound a little better than Fulton's version, though I don't know any Swedish. Fulton's storm "sets its mouth to our soul/ and blows to produce a note."

Rob said...

I've read some of Fulton's translations. I don't speak Swedish either, but I like the poems very much.

A few weeks ago, I found a Swedish-only version of Transtromer's poem Baltics in a second-hand shop. I didn't buy it - not knowing a word of Swedish. But now I'm kicking myself. It was a small, thin chapbook-like volume from the seventies, a treasure to be cherished, even if not read. I wonder if it's still there...

Pearl said...

ooh, thanks for the heads up on that coming out. :)

Lee said...

BTW, Robin Robertson is a terrific poet in his own right. Try Swithering.

Rob said...

Lee, I have Swithering and have read about half of it. My impression is that the good bits are brilliant. I felt there were a few 'passengers', poems that were exceptionally well written but which didn't go anywhere, but perhaps I should read these ones again. Sometimes I miss things.

But yes, I'd recommend Swithering too.