Rest in Peace, poet Tomas Tranströmer


I wrote about Swedish Nobel Prize winner, poet Tomas Tranströmer, before. He wrote many evocative poems, but my favorite – and the one most appropriate now, at his passing – is “Svarta vykort”.

Svarta vykort

Almanackan fullskriven, framtid okänd.
Kabeln nynnar folkvisan utan hemland.
Snöfall i det blystilla havet. Skuggor
brottas på kajen.

Mitt i livet händer att döden kommer
och tar mått på människan. Det besöket
glöms och livet fortsätter. Men kostymen
sys i det tysta.

Rough translation:

The calendar is full but the future is blank.
The wires hum the folk-tune of some forgotten land.
Snow-fall on the lead-still sea. Shadows
scrabble on the pier.

In the middle of life it happens that death comes and takes your measurements.
This visit is forgotten and life goes on.
But the suit is sewn in silence.

Another appropriate poem, however irreverent, is Piet Hein‘s “Noble Funerals Arranged”, hinting the irony or injustice of most Nobel winners receiving their awards so late in life that the monetary reward that comes with the honor won’t do much good in supporting that person’s art (not that the award is meant to do that):

Noble Funerals Arranged (Piet Hein)
The Nobel Prize
needs a candidate.
Of course, by the hopeful crowd
you’re stunned,
but none is sufficiently
well-known or great,
or sufficiently
Remember, it’s not a
scholarship late –
it is
a funeral benefit fund.

Rest in peace, Tomas Tranströmer.

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