The poetry of Tomas Tranströmer

Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, who was on Thursday named the 2011 Nobel Literature Prize laureate, has published a relatively small body of work, often addressing themes of death, history and nature.

Here is an English translation of a short poem entitled “National Insecurity”, followed by a brief bibliography:

“The Under Secretary leans forward and draws an X

and her ear-drops dangle like swords of Damocles.

“As a mottled butterfly is invisible against the ground

so the demon merges with the opened newspaper.

“A helmet worn by no one has taken power.

The mother-turtle flees flying under the water.”

Source: “New and Collected Poems by Tomas Transtroemer”, translated by Robin Fulton. Published in 1997 by Bloodaxe Books and published online by the Poetry Foundation.

Some works by Tomas Tranströmer:

In his native Swedish:

– 1954: “17 dikter” (Seventeen Poems);

– 1962: “Hemligheter på vägen” (The Half-Finished Heaven);

– 1966: “Klanger och spår” (Windows and Stones);

– 1974: “Östersjöar” (Baltics);

– 1996: “Sorgegondolen” (The Sorrow Gondola);

– 2004: “Den stora gåtan” (The Great Enigma).

In English:

– 1970: “Twenty Poems”, translated by Robert Bly;

– 1972: “Windows and Stones”, translated by May Swenson with Leif Sjöberg;

– 1975: “Baltics”, translated by Samuel Charters;

– 2001: “The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer”,

chosen and translated by Robert Bly;

– 2006: “The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems”, translated by Robin Fulton.

– 2010: “The Sorrow Gondola”, translated by Michael McGriff and Mikaela


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