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Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

Take time out to salute Tomas Tranströmer - Poet and Hero

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Tomas Tranströmer in wheelchair

The Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer has finally been given the international recognition he deserves with this week’s awarding of the 2011 Nobel prize for literature. There is an excellent article in yesterday's Guardian for those who wish to find out more about him -
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/oct/06/nobel-prize-literature-tomas-transtromer

A very dear friend of mine from Sweden and her husband were kind enough to send me Tranströmer’s Samlede Dikter - his collected works. It is one of my most treasured possessions. I have taken one of my favourite poems from this book, Romanska bågar – "Roman arches" and translated it as a celebration of this week’s award.


Tomas suffered a stroke in 1990, which affected his speech but he continues to create and even play the piano with his only good hand. Oh harbinger of death - where is thy sting? We do not fear thee.

I mean no disrespect to other great poets, but in my humble view, Tranströmer is light years ahead of most other "stellar" poets because he dares to make a leap, a leap into the unknown, a leap into the dark, carrying humanity on his back. Most poets turn in on themselves, or just talk to each other, and abandon their sacred role as teachers. Tranströmer goes out to meet us, our fears, our stupid ways, our redemption – redemption can only be found in human empathy. Empathy with the world, the universe, with and for each other. Tranströmer is the epitome of human empathy and courage.

Readers who would like to hear the great man himself reading this poem (in the original Swedish version obviously) can go to this YouTube page.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrzePp6WJgU

Here is my translation:


Roman arches

Inside the vast Romanesque church the tourists milled around
in the ancient light
Arches appearing beyond other arches and nothing else visible
Some candle flames dipped and flared
An angel with no face embraced me
and sent a whisper through my whole body:
“Do not be ashamed of your humanity, be proud!
Deep inside you are arches that open out to other arches for all eternity.
Your journey will never end and that is how it is should be."
I was blinded by tears
and herded out on to the sun-pulsing piazza
along with Mr and Mrs Jones, Tanaka san and
Signora Sabatini
and deep inside all of them
were arches appearing beyond other arches for all eternity.



For those of you who have Swedish, here is the original poem:

Romanska bågar

Inne i den väldiga romanska kyrkan trängdes turisterna
i halvmörkret
Valv gapande bakom valv och ingen överblick.
Några ljuslågor fladdrade.
En ängel utan ansikte omfamnade mig
och viskade genom hela kroppen:
"Skäms inte för att du är människa, var stolt!
Inne i dig öppnar sig valv bakom valv oändligt.
Du blir aldrig färdig, och det är som det skall."
Jag var blind av tårar
och föstes ut på den solsjudande piazzan
tillsammans med Mr och Mrs Jones, Herr Tanaka och
Signora Sabatini
och inne i dem alla öppnade sig valv bakom valv oändligt.

@ Tomas Tranströmer


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Translated poem - Roman arches and blog article @ Paul Larkin, Mí Meán Fomhair, 2011, Baile Átha Cliath
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Title: Take time out to salute Tomas Tranströmer - Poet and Hero
Date posted: 07 Oct '11 - 13:02
Filed under: General
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