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RE: (TV) Tomas Transtromer (was: Tomas Transtrvmer)

The following poem is by Tomas Transtromer. See if you all don't 
think it could be a Verlaine song lyric:

	Morning Birds

	I wake my car.
	It's windshield is covered by pollen.
	I put on my sunglasses
	and the song of the birds darkens.

	While another man buys a newspaper
	in the railroad station
	near a large goods wagon
	which is entirely red with rust
	and stands flickering in the sun.

	No emptiness anywhere here.

	Straight across the spring warmth a cold corridor
	where someone comes hurrying
	to say that they are slandering him
	all the way up to the Director.

	Through a backdoor in the landscape
	comes the magpie
	black and white, Hel's bird
	And the blackbird moving crisscross
	until everything becomes a charcoal drawing,
	except for the white sheets on the clothesline:
	a Palestrina choir.

	No emptiness anywhere here.
		-- Tomas Transtromer, translated by Gunnar Harding 
		   and Frederic Will
OK, here are the points of similarity:

	* Both use a lot of images, many of them unexpected

	* Both often write in the first person

	* Both juxtapose images from nature with urban images 
	  and social vignette ("slandering him all the way
	  up to the Director").

	* Both use surrealist elements (not so much in the quoted
	  poem, but in others)

	* Verlaine uses more verbal wit (at least than survives 
	  translation from Transtromer's Swedish).

	* Verlaine uses rhyme (no idea if Transtromer in the original
	  does, or Swedish poetry in general, uses rhyme, but the 
	  translations I saw do not).

	* Verlaine has to be concerned about song structure: e.g.
	  verse chorus verse chorus.

	* Poetry in translation always has a second-hand quality
	  to it, with verbal and metrical effects absent or muted.

It does look to me like Transtromer in translation could be a real 
influence on Verlaine's style.  So many thanks to Leif Joley for
bringing him up and to Jim Kaufman for supplying these details!

I wonder how much is lost by these English translations?  None of 
the ones I saw used any kind of formalism of any kind (meter, rhyme, 
stanza form).  The quoted poem is the only one that had a sort of
refrain.  Wonder if this "free verse" approach is Transtromer or 

Being influence by poetry in translation does have its dangers, like
flat language or forced diction (hey, I won't give Verlaine a
reason to say "you complain of my diction").

This analysis is based on reading only about a dozen poems by 
Transtromer in a non-scholarly translation, so please take it with 
a grain of salt.


"Jim Kauffman" <jkauff@earthlink.net> wrote:
> I have a couple of Transtromer's books of poetry. My favorite is Truth
> Barriers, 1980, translated by Robert Bly. There's also a Selected Poems that
> covers seven volumes of his work.
> It's not a great comparison, but I'd say he's a bit Gary Snyder, a bit
> Galway Kinnell, and a bit Theodore Roetke. Good stuff.
> Like Tom says, his work has held up well over the years.
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