The Deleted World
Publication Date: December 19, 2011
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A short selection of haunting, meditative poems from the winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature
Tomas Tranströmer can be clearly recognized not just as Sweden's most important poet, but as a writer of international stature whose work speaks to us now with undiminished clarity and resonance. Long celebrated as a master of the arresting, suggestive image, Tranströmer is a poet of the liminal: drawn again and again to thresholds of light and of water, the boundaries between man and nature, wakefulness and dream. A deeply spiritual but secular writer, his skepticism about humanity is continually challenged by the implacable renewing power of the natural world. His poems are epiphanies rooted in experience: spare, luminous meditations that his extraordinary images split open--exposing something sudden, mysterious, and unforgettable.
Tomas Tranströmer (1933-2015) received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2011. His books of poetry, which have been translated into sixty languages, include The Deleted World and The Half-Finished Heaven, and he received numerous international honors during his lifetime. Tranströmer, a trained Swedish psychologist, worked for years in state institutions with juveniles and the disabled, and his work was often praised for the inventive ways in which it examined the mind. When he was awarded the Nobel Prize, the Swedish Academy stated that "through his condensed, translucent images, he gave us fresh access to reality."
For decades U.S. poets and those in the know have been talking about Tranströmer, the haunting Swedish poet who's supposedly been on the Nobel shortlist for years. Now that he's actually taken this year's prize, he's no longer a secret. Readers can choose from several selections of poems with different English translators--from New Directions, Ecco, Graywolf, and others--all of which are pretty good, though this little book rushed out by FSG may be the best introduction . . . U.K. poetry star Robertson offers his lucid versions of 15 poems from throughout Tranströmer's long career, which began in the '50s . . . While readers will certainly be left wanting more pages, the fact that they will is a tribute to Robertson's clear and deep sympathy with Tranströmer's world.
His renderings are more fluid when it comes to English syntax than some translations I've read that may be more accurate but are somewhat stilted . . . Robertson has done justice to the greatest qualities of Tranströmer's poems: their evocative, striking imagery and uncanny metaphorical resonance . . . It's a collection that sparks with an exquisite, awakened awareness of the world.
Robin Robertson, himself no mean verse-maker, has taken a small selection from Tranströmer's 11 volumes and rendered them beautifully. And he has done so in a form that maintains the resonance and forceful imagery of the originals, and their engagement with the natural world, as well as providing a nimble introduction . . . Lovely stuff.
Robertson's fine work comes at an ideal time . . . Tranströmer's world is deeply northern, with scenes of snow, islands in chill waters, clouds and mists. But always, he is really speaking about innerscapes of the human soul . . . Robertson transmits the startle.