Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tomas Tranströmer: "Romanesque Arches"

in tribute
Tomas Tranströmer

Inside the huge Romanesque church the tourists jostled in the half darkness.
Vault gaped behind vault, no complete view.
A few candle flames flickered.
An angel with no face embraced me
and whispered through my whole body:
"Don't be ashamed of being human, be proud!
Inside you vault opens behind vault endlessly.
You will never be complete, that's how it's meant to be."
Blind with tears
I was pushed out on the sun-seething piazza
together with Mr and Mrs Jones, Mr Tanaka, and Signora Sabatini,
and inside them all vault opened behind vault endlessly.

"Romanesque Arches" by Tomas Tranströmer, from New Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2011 edition). Translated from the original Swedish by Robin Fulton.

Curator's note: Tomas Tranströmer, one of our mindfulness poets and 2011 winner of the Nobel Prize, died on March 26, 2015, at the age of 83. Here are a couple of quotes to remember him by: "We always feel younger than we are. I carry inside myself my earlier faces, as a tree contains its rings. The sum of them is me. The mirror sees only my latest face, while I know all my previous ones." And this: "I am still the place where creation does some work on itself."

Art credit: Still image from a video in which the poet, who had suffered a stroke, plays left-hand piano to a recording of his beautiful poem "Allegro" (photograph digitally altered by curator).

1 comment :

  1. What a beautiful image. That feeling of breaking open.

    The link to his site seems to have been hijacked by someone posting random articles. I'm guessing no one kept the site up after he died and they bought the URL and started posting. Searching on the Poetry Foundation page gave me better results to read more of his work (


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