Colección Voces que dejan Huellas
Thomas Tranströmer

reads from his work

voz del Autor
Recorded Live at 92Y
New York

     Introducción    x
     Balakirev´s Dream    x      texto en inglés
     Streets in Shangai    x      texto en inglés
     Vermeer    x      texto en inglés
     Portrait of a Lady    x
     Madrigal    x      texto en inglés
     Deep in Europe    x
     Leaflet    x      texto en inglés
     Golden wasp    x      texto en inglés
     Despedida    x


Thomas Tranströmer textos en ingles

Balakirev's Dream (1905)
Milij Balakirev
1837-1910, Russian Composer

The black grand piano, the gleaming spider
stood trembling in the midst of its music net.

In the concert hall a land was emerging
where the stones were no heavier than dew.

But Balakirev fell asleep during the music
and dreamed a dream about the tsar's carriage.

It rolled along over the cobblestones
straight into the crow-cawing dark.

He sat alone in the cab and looked out
but at the same time ran alongside in the road.

He knew that the trip had been long
and his watch showed years, not hours.

There was a field where the plow lay
and the plow was a bird taking flight.

There was a bay where the ship lay
ice-bound, lights out, with people on deck.

The carriage glided across that ice and the wheels
spun and spun with a sound of silk.

A lesser battleship: Sevastopol.
He was aboard. The crew came forward.

"You won't have to die if you can play."
They showed him a peculiar instrument.

It looked like a tuba, or a phonograph,
or a part to some obscure machine.

Scared-stiff and helpless he understood: this
is the instrument that drives the warship.

He turned to the sailor nearest him,
desperately signaled with his hands and begged:

"Make the sign of the cross like me, cross yourself!"
The sailor stared somberly like a blind man,

stretched his arms out, sunk his head down—
he hung as if nailed to the air.

The drums beat. The drums beat. Applause!
Balakirev woke up from his dream.

The applause-wings pattered around the hall.
He watched the man at the grand piano rise.

Outside the streets lay blacked-out by the strike.
The carriages rolled swiftly through the darkness.

(English translation by Patty Crane)

Streets of Shangai

The white butterfly in the park is being read by many.
I love that cabbage-moth as if it were a fluttering corner of truth itself!

At dawn the running crowds set our quiet planet in motion.
Then the park fills with people. To each one, eight faces polished like jade, for all situations, to avoid making mistakes.
To each one, there's also the invisible face reflecting "something you don't talk about."
Something that appears in tired moments and is as rank as a gulp of viper schnapps with its long scaly aftertaste.

The carp in the pond move continuously, swimming while they sleep, setting an example for the faithful: always in motion.

It's midday. Laundry flutters in the gray sea-wind high over the cyclists
who arrive in dense schools. Notice the labrinths on each side!

I'm surrounded by written characters that I can't interpret, I'm illiterate through and through.
But I've paid what I owe and have receipts for everything.
I've accumulated so many illegible receipts.
I'm an old tree with withered leaves that hang on and can't fall to the ground.

And a gust from the sea gets all these receipts rustling.

At dawn the trampling hordes set our quiet planet in motion.
We're all aboard the street, and it's as crammed as the deck of a ferry.

Where are we headed? Are there enough teacups? We should consider ourselves lucky to have made it aboard this street!
It's a thousand years before the birth of claustrophobia.

Hovering behind each of us who walks here is a cross that wants to catch up with us, pass us, unite with us.
Something that wants to sneak up on us from behind, put its hands over our eyes and whisper "Guess who!"

We look almost happy out in the sun, while we bleed to death from wounds we don't know about.

(English translation by Patty Crane)

It’s not a sheltered world. The noise begins over there, on the other side of the Wall
where the alehouse is
with its laughter and quarrels, its rows of teeth, its tears, its chiming of clocks,
and the psychotic brother-in-law, the murderer, in whose presence
everyone feels fear.
The huge explosion and the emergency crew arriving late,
boats showing off on the canals, money slipping down into pockets
— the wrong man’s —
ultimatum piled on the ultimatum,
widemouthed red flowers who sweat reminds us of approaching war.
And then straight through the wall — from there — straight into the airy studio
in the seconds that have got permission to live for centuries.
Paintings that choose the name: “The Music Lesson”
or ” A Woman in Blue Reading a Letter.”
She is eight months pregnant, two hearts beating inside her.
The wall behind her holds a crinkly map of Terra Incognita.
Just breathe. An unidentifiable blue fabric has been tacked to the chairs.
Gold-headed tacks flew in with astronomical speed
and stopped smack there
as if there had always been stillness and nothing else.
The ears experience a buzz, perhaps it’s depth or perhaps height.
It’s the pressure from the other side of the wall,
the pressure that makes each fact float
and makes the brushstroke firm.
Passing through walls hurts human beings, they get sick from it,
but we have no choice.
It’s all one world. Now to the walls.
The walls are a part of you.
One either knows that, or one doesn’t; but it’s the same for everyone
except for small children. There aren’t any walls for them.
The airy sky has taken its place leaning against the wall.
It is like a prayer to what is empty.
And what is empty turns its face to us
and whispers:
“I am not empty, I am open.”

(English translation by Robert Bly)

I inherited a dark forest where I seldom walk. But a day is coming when the living and the dead change places. Then the forest starts moving. We aren't without hope. The worst crime remains unsolved despite the efforts of many police. In the same way there is a great unsolved love in our lives. I inherited a dark forest, but today I am walking in the other forest, the light one. And the living things that sing, wiggle, wave and crawl! It's spring and the air is very strong. I have an examination at the University of Forgetfullness and am as emptyhanded as the shirt on the clothesline.

The silent rage scribbles on the inward wall.
Fruit trees in bloom, the cuckoo calls out.
This is spring’s narcosis. But the silent rage
paints its slogans backwards in garages.

We see all and nothing, but straight as periscopes
handled by the underworld’s timid crew.
It’s the war of minutes. The broiling sun
stands over the hospital, suffering’s parking lot.

We the living nails hammered down in society!
One day we’ll come loose from everything.
We’ll feel death’s air under our wings
and be milder and wilder than we are here.

Original en sueco


Det tysta raseriet klottrar på väggen inåt.
Fruktträd i blom, göken ropar.
Det är vårens narkos. Men det tysta raseriet
målar sina slagord baklänges i garagen.
Vi ser allt och ingenting, men raka som periskop
hanterade av underjordens skygga besättning.
Det är minuternas krig. Den gassande solen
står över lasarettet, lidandets parkering.

Vi levande spikar nedhamrade i samhället.
En dag ska vi lossna från allt.
Vi ska känna dödens luft under vingarna
och bli mildare och vildare än här.

Golden Wasp

The blindworm that legless lizard flows along the porch step
calm and majestic as an anaconda, only the size is different.
The sky is covered with clouds but the sun pushes through. Such is the day.

This morning the woman I love drove away the evil spirits.
As when you open the door of a dark shed somewhere in the south and the light pours in
and the cockroaches scurry into the corners and up the walls
and are gone—you saw them and you didn't see them—
so her nakedness made the demons run.

As if they never existed.
But they'll come back.
With a thousand hands crossing the lines in the old-fashioned telephone exchange of the nerves.

It's the fifth of July. The lupines are stretching up as if they wanted to catch sight of the sea.
We're in the church of keeping-silence, of piety according to no letter.
As if they didn't exist, the implacable faces of the patriarchs
and the misspelling of God's name in stone.

I saw a true-to-the-letter TV preacher who'd piled up money.
But he was weak now and needed the support of a bodyguard,
who was a well-tailored young man with a smile tight as a muzzle.
A smile stifling a scream.
The scream of a child left alone in a hospital bed when the parents leave.

The divine brushes against a human being and lights a flame
but then draws back.
The flame attracts the shadows, they fly rustling in and join the flame,
which rises and blackens. And the smoke spreads out black and strangling.
At last only the black smoke, at last only the pious executioner.

The pious executioner leans forward
over the market square and the crowd that make a grainy mirror
in which he can see himself.

The greatest fanatic is the greatest doubter. Without knowing it.
He is a pact between two
where the one is a hundred percent visible and the other invisible.
How I hate that expression "a hundred percent."

Those who can never exist anywhere except on their façades
those who are never absentminded
those who never open the wrong door and catch a glimpse of the Unidentified One.
Walk past them!

It's the fifth of July. The sky is covered with clouds but the sun pushes through.
The blindworm flows along the porch step, calm and majestic as an anaconda.
The blindworm as if there were no bureaucracy.
The golden wasp as if there were no idolatry.
The lupines as if there were no "hundred percent."

I know the depth where one is both prisoner and ruler, like Persephone.
I often lay in the stiff grass down there
and watched the earth arch over me.
The vault of the earth.
Often—that was half of my life.

But today my gaze has left me.
My blindness has gone away.
The dark bat has left my face and is scissoring around in summer's bright space.

(English translation by Robin Fulton)

x   textos de sus poemas