Vox Populi

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Lasse Söderberg: For Tomas Tranströmer

 (after reading 17 poems once again)

You know the broken history of things,
the alchemy of stones, a world masked
in the blind light of God. See how the summer dust rises
			   among the bones of the dead.

And you know the direction of the bird flocks.
You are standing in the wandering light of the secret
and into the heart flows our poor language.
			      The image is your salt.

You pass the fog in the north. Mountain.
The vulture’s eye-view. Over the whole earth
the geography trembles. The clearings of clarity
 			   are open everywhere.

The rain is, of course, a longer poem.
But where the elements are widening, 
your Swedish narrows. And in the outer archipelago of the soul
			 the branch of the poem is swaying.

Lasse Söderberg was born in 1931 in Stockholm, Sweden. He is the author of more than thirty books of poetry, and he is the foremost translator of post-war contemporary poets into Swedish from French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, German, English, and Italian, including Octavio Paz, Yves Bonnefoy, Charles Simic, Jorge Luis Borges, André Breton, and Rafael Alberti. He founded International Poetry Days, a festival in Malmö, Sweden, and continues to arrange events in Malmö with his wife, Colombian poet Ángela García Ines Castrillon. He has received numerous awards for his poetry in Sweden and was named to an honorary professorship by the Swedish government in 2002. In 2019, he received the Max Jacob Prize in Paris. This is his first substantial volume in English.


Lars Gustaf Andersson is a poet and critic. He has translated works of British and American poets into Swedish, among them a selection of the poetry of Carolyn Forché, Mot slutet (Rámus 2020) and Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky, De dövas republik(Rámus 2021). He is Professor of Film Studies at Lund University, Sweden, co-author of among others Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Cinema (Scarecrow Press, 2012) and The Cultural Practice of Immigrant Filmmaking (Intellect Books, 2019). He lives in Lund with his wife Carina Sjöholm.

Carolyn Forché is a poet, memoirist, and translator. She is the author of the memoir What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance (Penguin Press, 2019), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and five books of poetry. Her most recent poetry book, In the Lateness of the World (Penguin, 2020) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is also editor of Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness (W.W. Norton, 1993) and co-editor of Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English 1500-2001, with Duncan Wu (W.W. Norton, 2014). She has translated five books of poetry, most recently America by Fernando Valverde (Copper Canyon Press, 2021). She is University Professor at Georgetown University, and lives in Maryland with her husband, Harry Mattison.

The Forbidden Door: The Selected Poems of Lasse Söderberg

© 2022 Lasse Söderberg

All Rights Reserved

Translation © 2022 Lars Gustaf Andersson & Carolyn Forché

All Rights Reserved. Included in Vox Populi by permission of Arrowsmith Press and Carolyn Forché

Lasse Söderberg (source:sydsvenskan)

2 comments on “Lasse Söderberg: For Tomas Tranströmer

  1. Sean Sexton
    September 25, 2022

    Could this poem be any more eloquent or concise?
    Wonderful to waken to such clarity, perhaps equal to the rise, soon as the dark sorts itself out this morning…
    Makes me realize i have another great poet to become familiar with and read.


    • Vox Populi
      September 25, 2022

      Oh, yes, I love this poem. How the poet captures an entire experience in just a few words.



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