This past October, Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer was awarded the Nobel prize for literature. It turns out Tranströmer’s work was first translated into English back in the 1960s by Minnesota poet Robert Bly.
In honor of the prize, Graywolf Press has reissued Half-Finished Heaven, a book of Tranströmer’s poems, selected and translated by Bly. Here’s one of them:
A Winter Night
The storm puts its lips to the house
and blows to make a sound.
I sleep restlessly, turn over, with closed
eyes read the book of the storm.
But the child’s eyes grow huge in the dark
and the storm whimpers for the child.
Both love to see the swinging lamp.
Both are halfway toward speech.
Storms have childlike hands and wings.
The caravan bolts off toward Lapland
and the house senses the constellation of nails
holding its walls together.
The night is quiet above our floor
(where all the died-away footsteps
are lying like sunken leaves in a pond)
but outside the night is wild!
A more serious storm is moving over us all.
It puts its lips to our soul
and blows to make a sound. We’re afraid
the storm will blow everything inside us away.
– “A Winter Night” by Tomas Tranströmer, as it appears in the collection Half-Finished Heaven, translated by Robert Bly and published by Graywolf Press. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher.