Black Picture-Postcards

Frozen Sea


The diary written full, future unknown.

The cable hums the folk-song with no home.

Snow-fall on the lead-still sea. Shadows

                            wrestle on the pier.


In the middle of life it happens that death comes

and takes man's measurements. The visit

is forgotten and life goes on. But the suit

                           is sewn on the quiet.

By Tomas Tranströmer, from the volume The Wild Market-Place (1983)

Translation by Robin Fulton

Tomas Tranströmer is one of the most important Swedish poets, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 2011. For those of you who can read Swedish I have included this poem in original. 

Svarta Vykort


Almanackan fullskriven, framtid okänd.

Kabeln nynnar folkvisan utan hemland.

Snöfall i det blystilla havet. Skuggor

                        brottas på kajen.


Mitt i livet händer att döden kommer

och tar mått på människan. Det besöket

glöms och livet fortsätter. Men kostymen

                         sys i det tysta.

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