Excerpt: Great Enigma Read poems from Tomas Transtromer's The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems. The collection gathers all the poems Transtromer has published, from his distinctive first collection in 1954, 17 Poems, through his epic poem Baltics, to his most recent slim book, The Great Enigma, published in Sweden in 2004.
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Excerpt: Great Enigma



Here the walker suddenly meets the giant
oak tree, like a petrified elk whose crown is
furlongs wide before the September ocean's
murky green fortress.

Northern storm. The season when rowanberry
clusters swell. Awake in the darkness, listen:
constellations stamping inside their stalls, high
over the treetops.


Moon-its mast is rotten, its sail is shriveled.
Seagull-drunk and soaring away on currents.
Jetty-charred rectangular mass. The thickets
founder in darkness.

Out on doorstep. Morning is beating, beats on
ocean's granite gateways and sun is sparkling
near the world. Half-smothered, the gods of summer
fumble in sea mist.


Under the buzzard's circling point of stillness
ocean rolls resoundingly on in daylight,
blindly chews its bridle of weed and snorts up
foam over beaches.

Earth is veiled in darkness where bats can sense their
way. The buzzard stops and becomes a star now.
Ocean rolls resoundingly on and snorts up
up foam over beaches.


Yet one more abandoned the heavy city's
ring of greedy stones. And the water, salt and
crystal, closes over the heads of all who
truly seek refuge.

Silence slowly spiraling up has risen
here from earth's recesses to put down roots and
grow and with its burgeoning crown to shade his
sun-heated doorstep.

Kicks a mushroom thoughtlessly. Thunderclouds are
piling on the skyline. Like copper trumpets
crooked roots of trees are resounding, foliage
scatters in terror.

Autumn's headlong flight is his weightless mantle,
flapping till again from the frost and ashes
peaceful days have come in their flocks and bathe their
claws in the wellspring

Disbelief will meet him who saw a geyser
and escaped from wells filled with stones, like Thoreau
disappearing deep in his inner greenness
artful and hopeful.


There are bare winter days when the sea is kin
to mountain country, crouching in grey plumage,
a brief 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.

Where the sole survivor may sit
at the borealis stove and listen
to the music of those frozen to death.)

Excerpted from The Great Enigma by Tomas Tranströmer. Copyright 2006 by Tomas Tranströmer. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.