Monday, October 17, 2011

Tomas Tranströmer: Romanesque Arches (English) / Romanska bågar (Swedish)

Another of Tranströmer's poems I hold dear is "Romanesque Arches" or "Romanska bågar". This poem is deeply human, hence international.

From our shared heritage, here exemplified by a Romanesque church (rumoured to be the San Marco Cathedral in Venice/Venezia, Italy), we enter our shared world of spirit, of humanity, our nearly endless human potential.

Romanesque Arches

Basilica di San Marco
Tourists have crowded into the half-dark of the enormous
       Romanesque church.
Vault opening behind vault and no perspective.
A few candle flames flickered.
An angel with no face embraced me
and his whisper went all through my body:
"Don't be ashamed to be a human being, be proud!
Inside you one vault after another opens endlessly.
You'll never be complete, and that's as it should be."
Tears blinded me
as we were herded out into the fiercely sunlit piazza,
together with Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Herr Tanaka and Signora Sabatini;
within each of them vault after vault opened endlessly.

(Translated by Robert Bly, tweaked a little by me)

* * *

Here is the original:

Romanska bågar

Inne i den väldiga romanska kyrkan trängdes turisterna i halvmörkret.
Valv gapande bakom valv och ingen överblick.
Några ljuslågor fladdrade.
En ängel utan ansikte omfamnade mig
och viskade genom hela kroppen:
"Skäms inte för att du är människa, var stolt!
Inne i dig öppnar sig valv bakom valv oändligt.
Du blir aldrig färdig, och det är som det skall."
Jag var blind av tårar
och föstes ut på den solsjudande piazzan
tillsammans med Mr och Mrs Jones, Herr Tanaka och Signora Sabatini
och inne i dem alla öppnade sig valv bakom valv oändligt.

* * *
Read in Swedish by the poet. I have always loved the music of Swedish. Does it translate?

The openings within us, vault behind vault opening endlessly as we understand how sacred the act of being human is.


Anonymous said...

Nice blog. Cheers from Venezuela.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful poem. Loved the reading by Tranströmer

Anonymous said...

Underbar dikt.