Open and Closed Spaces

Tomas Tranströmer
Translated from the Swedish by Robin Fulton

A man feels the world with his work like a glove.
He rests for a while at midday having laid aside the gloves on a shelf.
There they suddenly grow, spread
and black out the whole house from inside.

The blacked-out house is away out among the winds of spring.
“Amnesty,” runs the whisper in the grass: “amnesty.”
A boy sprints with an invisible line slanting up in the sky
where his wild dream of the future lies like a kite bigger than the suburb.

Further north you can see from a summit the blue endless carpet of pine forest
where the cloud shadows
are standing still.
No, are flying.

 

 

 

 

 

 
In light of the Coronavirus crisis, Poetry Daily has started an impromptu series, What Keeps Us.
For the rest of March, we will post poems to sustain and uplift through trying times. Each poem is accompanied with an image by author-illustrator Juana Medina http://www.juanamedina.com. We thank you for reading and hope that you will share poems with your friends and neighbors. Please be well.

Feature Date

Series

Selected By

Share This Poem

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Print This Poem

Share on print

Nobel Prize Laureate and beloved Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer (1931–2015) was born in Stockholm and worked as a psychologist. He wrote ten collections of poems that the Nobel Prize Committee praised for their “condensed, translucent images that give us fresh access to reality.” New Directions publishes his complete poems in one volume titled The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems. Tranströmer was first published by New Directions in 1966, in New Directions in Prose & Poetry #16. The best-known Scandinavian poet of the postwar period, and the most widely translated, his other books available in English include Selected Poems 1954–1986; The Half-Finished Heaven; For the Living and the Dead; Night Vision; and Windows and Stars. For many years after being seriously debilitated by a stroke, Tranströmer continued write. He was also an avid pianist and released a recording of classical piano pieces performed with his left hand. Tranströmer received numerous public recognitions for his poetry including the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Bonnier Award for Poetry, Germany’s Petrarch Prize, the Bellman Prize, the Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize, the August Prize, and a Lifetime Recognition Award in 2007 from The Griffin Trust. In 2011 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Robin Fulton, a Scottish poet and longtime resident of Norway, has been translating Tranströmer for over thirty-five years.

"One of the most outstanding poets of our time…Tranströmer has succeeded in achieving a synthesis between the modern and the traditional, between art and life. He has been able to breathe life into some of the most uninspiring realities of modern existence…He has worked for more than thirty years as a practising psychologist, helping people, giving them something of his remarkable integrity and strength, and achieving a depth of vision into our human condition that he is able to express in his poems."
—Jaan Kaplinski

"Precisely observed, haunting, sometimes mysterious poems. They have a quality of intense concentration on the moment, the scene, the details… Darkness, with all its connotations, is a recurring motif."
—Fleur Adcock, Poetry Book Society Bulletin

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.