After a black day

Allegro

After a black day, I play Haydn,

and feel a little warmth in my hands.

The keys are ready. Kind hammers fall.

The sound is spirited, green, and full of silence.

The sound says that freedom exists

and someone pays no tax to Caesar.

I shove my hands in my haydnpockets

and act like a man who is calm about it all.

I raise my haydnflag. The signal is:

“We do not surrender. But want peace.”

The music is a house of glass standing on a slope;

rocks are flying, rocks are rolling.

The rocks roll straight through the house

but every pane of glass is still whole.

Tomas Tranströmer (1931) Swedish poet.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 is awarded to Tomas Tranströmer “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality”

I’ve always found poetry to be rather difficult to read. But through reading Woolf it is as if my awareness of words as pictures and rhythm is growing, and with this awareness I find a totally new pleasure in reading poems. But poetry demand a knowledge of words which makes it more difficult to read in a foreign language, I read Tranströmer in Swedish, or Norwegian – my mother tongue.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. I love reading poetry–it amazes me, really. Probably because I can’t write it and admire those who can.

    1. Sigrun says:

      I have to read more of it!

  2. I love this poem, which is new to me, though I have read quite a bit of Transtromer’s work in English translations. I wish I could read it in Swedish!

    The closing lines are wonderful:

    I raise my haydnflag. The signal is:
    “We do not surrender. But want peace.”
    The music is a house of glass standing on a slope;
    rocks are flying, rocks are rolling.
    The rocks roll straight through the house
    but every pane of glass is still whole.

    Currently I am reading Bachelard on reverie, and the poem you’ve posted here captures reverie perfectly.

    Yes, read more poetry…(urges the poet)

  3. dianajhale says:

    Coincidence – I wanted to hear Tomas Transtromer at the British Library in London last night but it was sold out! I shall buy one of his books instead.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Oh … sad, but also very nice to hear he is pulling full house!
      I am an amateur here, but will all the same strongly recommend his work!

  4. Max says:

    I’ve been reading a lot of poetry in the last few years, since 2010, because I began teaching a course in Twentieth-Century Italian poetry. In general, for pleasure and out of instinct, I read novels, but poetry has become an integral part of my life, through “work”. Prosaic life is often encapsulated in a few words and images in a poem. I find I have less patience for certain more detail oriented, belaboured descriptions in novels. I greet “background” chapter and the less skillful uses of the flashback technique with great yawns now. Poets can “tell their story walking” (as the cop said to the loiterer). Modernist ideas: the encounter, the epiphany, the melding of myth and personal memory, the search for identity and the problematic homecoming – these moments come hard and fast, at least one per page in poems. I find poetry difficult too. Poets are wiley, tricky and it is really almost impossible to detect things like irony as a naive reader. And yeah, you’ve got to know the language. As i go about my daily business, it is always Italian in my ears, and I puzzle over the most obscure metaphors and seek to identify objective correlatives of, say, Campana or Montale, but I admit, at the end of the day, I like to relax with a novel, usually detective fiction and in English.

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you Max!
      I believe you are giving me a pertinent analysis for the change I’m going through right now. And you know what; yesterday I went to bed with Alice Oswald’s “Memorial”…

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