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The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems Paperback – October 17, 2006
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About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Behind the vivarium glass
A woman hangs up washing
in the silence.
Death is becalmed.
In the depths of the ground
my soul glides
silent as a comet.
How unexpected is that word "comet," a moving body of light in the heavens, challenging the below-ground dark of death! This from a man in his seventies, robbed of the power of speech by a stroke some dozen years before. The brief poems from this last period have not been published in English before this volume, which shows the poet's development from young adulthood to old age. The image of the comet returns again in the book's final section, a prose memoir from 1993 describing his childhood and adolescence, thus bringing the life-cycle full circle: "My life. Thinking these words, I see before me a streak of light... a comet." After talking about youth -- the bright dense head of the comet -- he goes on: "Further back, the comet thins out -- that's the longer part, the tail. It becomes more and more sparse, but also broader. I am now far out in the comet's tail, I am sixty as I write this." The image of racing time returns, as most of his images do, in another poem, "A Page of the Nightbook" (1996): "A period of time / a few minutes long / fifty-eight years wide.Read more ›
Able to succeed in both the very short and the epic form, he finds those niches in our psyches and makes them into words we could never generate. 'It's spring and the air is very strong. I have graduated from
the university of oblivion and am as empty-handed as the shirt
on the clothesline.' Perhaps it is his training and practice as a psychologist that allows his entry into our heads the way few other poets can achieve. A solid (yet one of many equally powerful) examples would be the following 'Sailor's Yarn':
'There are bare winter days when the sea is kin to mountain
country, crouching in grey plumage, a grief minute blue,
long hours with waves like pale lynxes vainly seeking
hold in the beach gravel.
On such a day wrecks might come from the sea searching
for their owners, settling in the town's din, and drowned
crews blow landward, thinner than pipe smoke.
(The real lynxes are in the north, with sharpened claws
and dreaming eyes. In the north, where day lives in
a mine both day and night.Read more ›
If you do not remember, last year's winner was Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian writer whose historical fiction novel Feast of the Goat--a story about the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic--set my heart ablaze with his ability to describe poignant historical events. My only minor critique was that his style and content sounded reminiscent of Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
With Tomas Transtromer, there is no real comparison. He has been by far the most original, the most satisfying, and the most complete modern poet (he probably is upset that I have called him modern and a poet!) I have encountered. What is even more impressive about him is that literature has never been his field of study (that would be history, psychology, and amazingly geography)even though he has been writing prodigiously for the last forty years. It is truly fortuitous that the rest of the world now has the opportunity to enter this "silent rebel's mind," for we can benefit from his poetry in so many capacities.
An amateur compared to those who have followed Transtromer's life and works, my prosody may likely sound frenetic for the simple reason that my training has been in English, and, honestly, that is a slight limitation since Transtromer purposely tries to be an atypical poet.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A review of a Nobel prize winner? Not my place, but I will make a few comments here that are simply opinion. Read morePublished 1 month ago by G. Branch
I find I do not like these Transtromer translations nearly as much as those by Robert Bly.Published 5 months ago by Tamsin
This is a style of poetry that I don't find particularly engaging. I found it highly idiosyncratic in terms of its images and metaphors . Read morePublished 15 months ago by Richard E. Pearson
I don't like poetry, but this is different. Look at the heading to my review. That is a summary of the author's life. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Jackal
Still to be properly read - but I can already see they are special and totally evocative of our life here.Published 16 months ago by Angela Sturdee