Skip to content

Reflections of a working writer and reader



Two Poems from Tomas Tranströmer

Further In
On the main road into the city
when the sun is low.
The traffic thickens, crawls.
It is a sluggish dragon glittering.
I am one of the dragon’s scales.
Suddenly the red sun is
right in the middle of the windscreen
streaming in.
I am transparent
and writing becomes visible
inside me
words in invisible ink
which appear
when the paper is held to the fire!
I know I must get far away
straight through the city and then
further until it is time to go out
and walk far in the forest.
Walk in the footprints of the badger.
It gets dark, difficult to see.
In there on the moss lie stones.
One of the stones is precious.
It can change everything
it can make the darkness shine.
It is a switch for the whole country.
Everything depends on it.
Look at it, touch it…

The Tree and the Sky
There’s a tree walking around in the rain,
it rushes past us in the pouring grey.
It has an errand. It gathers life
out of the rain like a blackbird in an orchard.

When the rain stops so does the tree.
There it is, quiet on clear nights
waiting as we do for the moment
when the snowflakes blossom in space.

Copyright © Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robin Fulton

32 Responses to “Two Poems from Tomas Tranströmer”

  1. John says:

    I am an American living in Sweden with my wife and young sons. A Swedish academic dad I’ve befriended pointed me toward Tranströmer’s poetry to learn Swedish. I have not heard of him and yet we live across the water from the island Runmarö where he spent many of his early days. I was looking for poetry samples and came across your site. Good stuff.

    jb says: How’s it looking, these days, John, the Stockholm archipelago. One of my favourite places in the whole world.

  2. Ruth Adams says:

    This is a very insightful post. I always love reading your site.

  3. sathish says:

    Its the first time i read some poetries ,I felt very light after reading this poem,I am loving it !

  4. this is the first time I am reading Transtromer. I enjoyed these two. They’ve a unique perspectives. Thanks for the link.

  5. Angela says:

    Never heard of Mr Transtromer but cannot wait to read more of his work. Very moving.

  6. Jack Peachum says:

    Very lucid! At last– a poet who understands the magic of economy!

  7. Jonathan Lloyd says:

    “On the main road into the city
    when the sun is low.”–Starting a poem with an incomplete sentence is never a good idea, IMO.

    “I am transparent
    and writing becomes visible
    inside me
    words in invisible ink”–a stale trope. See Ben Belitt for a much more staggering metaphor.

    These may just be a fault of translation; perhaps the poet has a wonderful, original voice in the original Swedish. But I cannot see anything here worth delving into. Sorry.

  8. Sam Pryor says:

    He just won the Nobel Prize for Literature! I’m sure you’re gratified at his recognition–and your own contribution to making his poems accessible.

  9. Kate McShane says:

    I’m so happy to hear that Tomas Transtromer has won the Nobel. I’ve been reading translations of his work for almost 20 years and when I read about the Nobel, I cried. Thank you for these two poems.

  10. Juan R. Salvador says:

    This poetry is simply beautiful.I should not call it poetry, just feeling. It is simply what you feel inside, without difficult words or gimmicky. What the writer feel is what he writes.

  11. […] If you want fair, go to The New York Times for an assessment of Transtromer’s career, or here for a couple of full-length poems in […]

  12. sandi says:

    I like his face and I like his poems. A lot! I’m glad he won.

  13. Erich Wolfgang Skwara says:

    indeed, how gentle and seemingly easy the weight of our world seems to turn in this poet´s mind and words.

  14. Roger Schamp says:

    I am glad that in an era of courseness there is still a way to honor those who give a softer insight to our world.

  15. Roy Rudy says:

    ‘Further In’ describes finding a special stone, such as one that is worthy of holding the chapters of thoughtful concepts and the attached experiences. Once locked into place within the precious stone, the chapters may be reflected upon and given the time to put into precious words that identify exactly what was known as a great value and enthusiasm that heightens the adventurous experience, as told. A certain precious stone may hold chapters and chapters that becomes part of the adventure as it is about to be told, if only again and again the stone is in hold, for the memory to be retold.

  16. Edward Carchia says:

    Scandiavian minimalism at its purest. After a lifetime with my Swedish wife I have grown to it.

  17. […] You can read two of Tranströmer’s poems here. […]

  18. Scott says:

    These are my first Transtromer poems. From what I’ve heard, his poems are metaphysical and dream-like. I like how he sets a mellow mood before segueing into sly metaphors, and his well thought-out final lines. Thanks for posting.

  19. […] Tranströmer Wins Nobel Prize! Posted on October 6, 2011 by Mike Strozier Who? I found 2 of his poems. Why do they even give a Nobel Prize anymore? It seems very irrelevant. It’s highly […]

  20. Mike van Rooyen says:

    I once came across a definition of poetry:
    ‘The part that is lost when a poem is translated.’
    I am fluent in English and Afrikaans and can agree with the definition having experienced the problem to some extent when reading Afrikaans poems in translation.
    Anyone else noticed that?
    Saying that,I did enjoy ‘Further In’,but you wonder how much more it could be in the original.

  21. Lynda Juzba says:

    Johathan LLoyd posted that he didn’t like that the poem started with an incomplete sentence. Prose is part of poetry, and prose is not written as other literature. Structure rules, punctuation, capitalization, etc do not apply in poetry. It’s about feeling, not syntax. I enjoyed these two pieces very much.

  22. Raj says:

    There is a difference between reading a Noble laureate’s poems and reading poems written by ones’s favourite poet who later wins the Nobel prize. When you read the former’s poems, you tend to read a lot into them or get confused, right?

  23. ana Camusso says:

    I think this is a very, very good poem.
    I can feel that his poetry is not anti conventional. He does not want to break the language structures, and does not play with words. Other poets do, and successfully. But is not the case.
    I feel that his poetry slowly is driving us to a language of small shadows, small but deep feelings, serenity, sadness, consolation. Unfortunately I can only read them into translations. And there are very few Spanish.
    Or at least I do not know. Borges said that translate is to betray. Perhaps the English translation is too literal, and then lose that subjectivity so special that every word corry in its original sound.

    Google Translate for my:SearchesVideosEmailPhoneChat

  24. […] poems copyright Tomas Transtromer.  Many thanks to John Baker, Bloodaxe Blogs, and for texts of these poems. LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); […]

  25. […] like, however, is the one here below that I found on UK writer John Baker’s blog — link here. Titled The Tree and the Sky, it is two stanzas: There’s a tree walking around in the rain, it […]

  26. roknuzzaman says:

    poem is a lost-art now ; His poems still life ! I am glad for that.

  27. p a noushad says:

    I feel a metaphisical touch when i go through his poems and a deep insight about the life.

  28. larry g thompson says:

    I wonder about the correlation between stones in Transtroemer’s poetry as symbols of solidity, clarity, hope, light, refuge and as timeless artifacts of time and the image of the lost hiker in Indridason’s novels. The poet is often lost in darkness or even seeking the dark woods. The Icelandic novelist also searches for the Missing One. In the shambolic mess of politics and economics here in America, I wonder if we have two helpful frames of reference: Stones and their soundness and hope because someone is searching for our Lost Soul.

  29. Asraful Kabir says:

    Excellent page..I like Transtromer

  30. paisley says:

    To the point but allows you to find your own point and believe your own belief. Beautiful.

  31. Leif Olsson says:

    I am delighted to read this blog. For eight years now I have been touring Sweden and other countries with the poetry of Tranströmer’s. And the magic about his poems is that they feel new and bring new and undiscovered images all the time, even after my 100th reading. And how he is read and appreciated all over. For example in Macedonia, at the huge Struga poetry festival I found that he was almost a God. And on the Faroe Islands many people had his book and could quote poems by heart. I am lucky to have this opportunity to see the world, with this positive mission. On Monday 15th he will be 82, and I will see him and his wife Monica. Let poetry unite people, sharing visions is one way. Yours, Leif Olsson

  32. Dave says:

    When the poem flow through our eyes directly to the brain and heart.
    Definitely they will give comfort to our body.
    I think the poems is deep, reflecting our life.
    IMO, there is emptyness inside these poems.
    But, it’s still a great poems.