This is also a very good poem by Tranströmer. Although the more usual set-up of the poem isn't there; or rather, that this looks like a piece of prose, the text rings like a poem to me. The imagery, the rhythm, the silences between the words and the sentences; and of course the weight of each word. If you hear this poem recited, you probably wouldn't think of it as a prose poem. However the form, Tranströmer seems to shine through.
* * *
I inherited a dark forest where I seldom walk. But a day is coming when
the living and the dead trade places. Then the forest will be set in motion. We
are not without hope. The most serious crimes will remain unsolved despite the
efforts of many policemen. In the same way there is somewhere in our lives a great unsolved love. I inherited a dark forest, but today I am walking in the
other forest, the light one. And the living things that sing, wiggle,
wave and crawl! It's spring and the air is very strong. I have an
examination at the University of Oblivion and am as emptyhanded as
the shirt on the clothesline.
* * *
I have always loved the closing line:
How wonderfully simple yet recognisable that image is! The cheerfully waving shirt hanging out to dry on a clothesline. No worries, just existing right there and then, with the sun shining through its cotton white and blue stripes.
I also like that the air is very strong (stark is the Swedish word, the emphasis on the rolling 'r'). The air can be strong. When life holds meaning and your stride is full. When the time of year is spring as well, I get his meaning clearly.
The dark and light forests he speaks about is hardly difficult to recognise. At least not to me. Again I guess the Northern or even Scandinavian landscape I share with this poet informs my reading and makes me feel right at home in the world he paints. But beyond that, the forest isn't exactly an unknown image to mental landscapes. Yet powerful, I find, a valid illustration.
Here the balance between the light and dark is quite visible. You just don't have one without the other.
Squeezed in is the line about unsolved love. This I find in a way very hopeful. That somewhere in our lives there is a great unsolved love. That puts some light and warmth into areas one might often think of as dark and mysterious, just because one doesn't see what is there, what it is within you that feels unsolved, unilluminated. Why shouldn't it be a great unsolved love rather than a deeply forgotten dark something?
What shines through the clearest, I think though, is that although you inherit a
dark forest or wood, you dont have to live in it. You don't have to
reproduce the worldview you grow up in, the fights of your fathers.
Through the University of Oblivion you wash free of static worlds and
come out light and emptyhanded, translucent with sunlight and full of
* * *
Jag ärvde en mörk skog dit jag sällan går. Men det kommer en dag när de döda och levande byter plats. Då sätter sig skogen i rörelse. Vi är inte utan hopp. De svåraste brotten förblir ouppklarade trots insats av många poliser. På samma sätt finns någonstans i våra liv en stor uoppklarad kärlek. Jag ärvde en mörk skog men idag går jag i en annan skog, den ljusa. Allt levande som sjunger slingrar viftar og kryper! Det är vår och luften är mycket stark. Jag har examen från glömskans universitet och är lika tomhänt som skjortan på tvättstrecket.
* * *
From För levande och döda, 1989 (For the living and the dead).