Karela Fry

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Tomas Tranströmer

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Several years ago I was asked by a friend to take a look at a new translation of a book of poems called The Sorrow Gondola by a Swedish poet about whom I then knew nothing. The poetry seemed like a breath of cold dark air from the far north. I leafed through the version in English and the first piece that I stopped at was this:

THREE STANZAS

by TOMAS TRANSTRÖMER

I
The knight and his lady
were petrified but happy
on a flying coffin lid
outside of time.

II
Jesus held up a coin
with Tiberius in profile
a profile without love
the power in circulation.

III
A dripping sword
obliterates memories.
The ground is rusting
trumpets and sheaths.

The translation quoted above is by Patty Crane. Would I have done a better job of criticism if I had known how famous the author was? If I had any inkling that he would win the Nobel prize for literature in two years?

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

October 9, 2011 at 6:00 am

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