Tomas Transtromer (Sweden)

Tomas Transtromer


Tomas Transtromer was probably the most important Swedish poet of the past fifty years and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2011.

Called the “buzzard poet”, his poetry is as haunting, visionary and mystic as the flight of a bird of prey.

Seamus Heaney wrote about his work: “In its delicate hovering between the responsibilities of the social world and the invitations of a world of possibly numinous reality, Transtromer’s poetry permits us to be happily certain of our own uncertainties”.


from Open and Closed Spaces


“A man feels the world with his work like a glove.
He rests for a while at midday having laid aside
the gloves on the shelf.
They suddenly grow, spread,
and black out the whole house from inside.”


Transtromer’s poems evoke landscapes and the natural sounds he experienced living in Sweden, long summers and wild winters.

The reader perceives the need to connect with living and non living beings and the powerful introspection that this reverberation infuses.


from Alone


“I must be alone
ten minutes in the morning
and ten minutes in the evening.
– Without a programme.
Everyone is queuing at everyone’s door.


The way Transtromer observes and describes reality allows profound insight and metaphysical interpretation, often by depicting the duality of the world we are living in: inner and outer spaces, conscious and unconscious, nature and the human.

The modernity of his lines perfectly matches the beauty and elegance of the images offered, like an impressionist painting or a folk song.

Ilaria Boffa

The Couple
They switch off the light and its white shade
glimmers for a moment before dissolving
like a tablet in a glass of darkness. Then up.
The hotel walls rise into the black sky.
The movements of love have settled, and they sleep
but their most secret thoughts meet as when
two colours meet and flow into each other
on the wet paper of a schoolboy’s painting.
It is dark and silent. But the town has pulled closer
tonight. With quenched windows. The houses have approached.
They stand close up in a throng, waiting,
a crowd whose faces have no expressions.