Tomas Tranströmer

(15 April 1931 / Stockholm)

November in the Former DDR


The almighty cyclop’s-eye clouded over
and the grass shook itself in the coal dust.

Beaten black and blue by the night’s dreams
we board the train
that stops at every station
and lays eggs.

Almost silent.
The clang of the church bells’ buckets
fetching water.
And someone’s inexorable cough
scolding everything and everyone.

A stone idol moves its lips:
it’s the city.
Ruled by iron-hard misunderstandings
among kiosk attendants butchers
metal-workers naval officers
iron-hard misunderstandings, academics!

How sore my eyes are!
They’ve been reading by the faint glimmer of the glow-worm lamps.

November offers caramels of granite.
Unpredictable!
Like world history
laughing at the wrong place.

But we hear the clang
of the church bells’ buckets fetching water
every Wednesday
- is it Wednesday? -
so much for our Sundays!

translated by Robin Fulton
'New and Collected Poems', 1997, Bloodaxe Books.

Submitted: Friday, October 07, 2011
Edited: Friday, October 07, 2011

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