Tomas Tranströmer (translated by Malena Mörling)

April and Silence

Spring lies deserted.
The dark velvet ditch
creeps by my side
not reflecting anything.

All that shines
are yellow flowers.

I am carried in my shadow
like a violin
in its black case.

All I want to say
gleams out of reach
like the silver
in a pawnshop.

Landscape with Suns

The sun slides out from behind the house
stands in the middle of the street
and breathes on us
with its red wind.
Innsbrück I must leave you.
But tomorrow
there will be a glowing sun
in the half-dead grey forest
where we shall work and live.

Grief Gondola, #2

        I

Two old men, father-in-law and son-in-law, Liszt and Wagner,
         are staying on the Grande Canal
together with the restless woman who is married to King Midas
he who turns everything he touches into Wagner.
The green chill of the sea pushes up through the palace floors.
Wagner is a marked man, the well known Caspar profile is more tired than before
        his face a white flag.
The gondola is heavily laden with their lives,
two round trips and one one-way.

        II

A window in the palace blows open, they grimace in the sudden draught.
Outside on the water, the garbage gondola appears, paddled
        by two one-oared bandits.
Liszt has composed a few chords so heavy they ought to be sent
to the mineralogical institute in Padua for analysis.
Meteorites!
Too heavy to rest, they are able only to sink and sink through the future
        all the way down to the year of the brownshirts.
The gondola is heavily laden with the huddled stones of the future.

        III

Openings toward 1990.

March 25: Worry about Lithuania.
Dreamt I visited a large hospital.
No staff. Everyone was a patient.

In the same dream a newborn girl
who spoke in complete sentences.

        IV

Compared to his son-in-law, who is a man of his time, Liszt is a
        motheaten grandseigneur.
It’s a disguise.
The deep that tries out and discards various masks has chosen
        just this one for him—
the deep that wants to join the humans without showing its face.

        V

Abbé Liszt is used to carrying his own suitcase through sleet and sunshine
and when the time comes to die there will be no one there
        to meet him at the station.
A tepid breeze of highly gifted cognac carries him off
        in the midst of an assignment.
He is never free of assignments.
Two thousand letters a year!
The schoolboy who writes the misspelled word one hundred times before he is
        allowed to go home.
The gondola is heavily laden with life, it is simple and black.

        VI

Back to 1990.

Dreamt I drove a hundred miles in vain.
Then everything was magnified. Sparrows as large as hens
sang so that my ears popped.

Dreamt that I had drawn piano keys
on the kitchen table. I played on them, mutely.
The neighbors came in to listen.

        VII

The clavier which has been silent through all of Parsifal (but it has listened)
        is at last allowed to say something.
Sighs...sospiri...
When Liszt plays tonight he holds down the sea-pedal so that
        the green force of the sea
rises through the floor and flows together with all the stone of the building.
Good evening beautiful deep!
The gondola is heavily laden with life, it is simple and black.

        VIII

Dreamt I was starting school but came late.
Everyone in the room wore white masks.
It was impossible to tell who was the teacher.

Note: During late 1882 and early 1883 Liszt visited his daughter Cosima and her husband Richard Wagner. A few months later, Wagner died. Liszt's two pieces for piano entitled Trauer-Gondel (Grief Gondola) were composed at that time.