When I heard of the death of Tomas Tranströmer, the Swedish Nobel prize winning poet, I fetched down my copy (English translation only!). I have no idea what his poems sound like in Swedish but I imagine that they translate well. He’s a writer who conjures a sense of place: the forests and snowy distances of Sweden, the mist-shrouded islands of the Baltic. There's a feeling of imminence in the pine trees and the deep silence, moments of mysterious epiphany and transcendence. A train stops suddenly at 2 a.m. on a lonely plain. 'Days - like Aztec hieroglyphs'. The impact of a death.
After someone’s deathOnce there was a shock
which left behind a long pallid glimmering comet's tail.
It contains us. It makes TV pictures blurred.
It deposits itself as cold drops on the aerials.
You can still shuffle along on skis in the winter sun
among groves where last year's leaves still hang
They are like pages torn from old telephone directories -
the subscriber's names are consumed by the cold.
It is still beautiful to feel your heart throbbing.
But often the shadow feels more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
besides his armour of black dragon-scales.
(Translated by Robin Fulton)