Bright Scythe: Selected Poems by Tomas Tranströmer

Tomas Tranströmer, trans. from the Swedish by Patty Crane. Sarabande (Consortium, dist.), $17.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-941411-21-6
Swedish Nobel laureate Tranströmer (1931–2015) was often admired for his melancholy single lines, his wintry Scandinavian seascapes, and his evocative, terse, almost dreamlike poems: “I am cradled in my shadow,” one says, “like a fiddle/ in its black case.” Tranströmer was also regularly translated by notable U.S. and U.K. poets, so why this new version? It’s far-ranging: not all-inclusive, but attentive to all the decades of his career. It holds, for example, the big sequence “Baltics,” with its long views of the sea and of Swedish history, and the entirety of The Sorrow Gondola. Crane’s verse sounds good in English, and it comes with facing-page Swedish. It also reflects the cooperation of the poet’s wife: Crane visited Tomas and Monica Tranströmer periodically from 2007 to 2010, when she had begun to render the poems, often with masterly care, into syllables sharper, more brittle, more urgent, than some prior translators chose. Her Tranströmer wants to be heard: “If I could at least get them to feel,” he writes, “that this trembling beneath us/ means we’re on a bridge.” Readers who know earlier versions, or who know Swedish, will want to contrast these versions with what they know; readers new to Tranströmer should bundle up and dive in. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/19/2015
Release date: 11/01/2015
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-941411-22-3
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