Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Poetry · Scandinavian Literature · Swiss Culture

Tomas Tranströmer

Solitary Swedish Houses

A mix-max of black spruce
and smoking moonbeams.
Here’s the croft lying low
and not a sign of life.

Till the morning dew murmurs
and an old man opens
– with a shaky hand – his window
and lets out an owl.

Further off, the new building
stands steaming
with the laundry butterfly
fluttering at the corner

in the middle of a dying wood
where the mouldering reads
through spectacles of sap
the proceedings of the bark-drillers.

Summer with flaxen-haired rain
or one solitary thunder-cloud
above a barking dog.
The seed is kicking inside the earth.

Agitated voices, faces
fly in the telephone wires
on stunted rapid wings
across the moorland miles.

The house on an island in the river
brooding on its stony foundations.
Perpetual smoke – they’re burning
the forest’s secret papers.

The rain wheels in the sky.
The light coils in the river.
Houses on the slope supervise
the waterfall’s white oxen.

Autumn with a gang of starlings
holding dawn in check.
The people move stiffly
in the lamplight’s theatre.

Let them feel without alarm
the camouflaged wings
and God’s energy
coiled up in the dark.

Tomas Tranströmer, Samlade Dikter 1954-1996 (Förlag, Stockholm, 2001)


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