Vox Populi

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Lasse Söderberg: The dead children in the Tajo River

They have left the city 
and their blind games 
under the white bone of the sun, 
they have left the voices 
that called on the beach 
and were once theirs.
Now they listen in the mud 
to the river that plays 
its slow trombone. 
Now they dream without eyes
among lost things: 
a tin can, a bottle, 
a mule that slowly comes down 
to the water to drink.

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

Lasse Söderberg (photo source: Arrowsmith Press)

4 comments on “Lasse Söderberg: The dead children in the Tajo River

  1. melpacker
    November 20, 2022

    I am always impressed with the power of just a few words hidden in the pens of great writers. This is one of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Saleh Razzouk
    November 20, 2022

    Simply i loved the poem. I wished i can obtain a copy of the specified book.
    This poem reminded me of Tomas
    Transtromer and his short and subtle tonality.


    • Vox Populi
      November 20, 2022

      Oh, yes, Saleh. I see the similarity with Transtromer’s poems as well.

      It’s so nice to hear from you!

      Are you still in the UAR?




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