THE PALACE Poem by Tomas Tranströmer

THE PALACE



We stepped in. A single vast hall,
silent and empty, where the surface of the floor lay
like an abandoned skating rink.
All doors shut. The air grey.

Paintings on the walls. We saw
pictures throng lifelessly: shields, scale-
pans, fishes, struggling figures
in a deaf and dumb world on the other side.

A sculpture was set out in the void:
in the middle of the hall alone a horse stood
but at first when we were absorbed
by all the emptiness we did not notice him.

Fainter than the breathing in a shell
sounds and voices from the town
circling in this desolate space
murmuring and seeking power.

Also something else. Something darkly
set itself at our senses' five
thresholds without stepping over them.
Sand ran in every silent glass.

It was time to move. We walked
over to the horse. It was gigantic,
dark as iron. An image of power itself
abandoned when the princes left.

The horse spoke: ‘I am The Only One.
The emptiness that rode me I have thrown.
This is my stable. I am growing quietly.
And I eat the silence that's in here.'

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