Sorgegondolen Tomas Tranströmer


Published: 2011

38 pages


Sorgegondolen  by  Tomas Tranströmer

Sorgegondolen by Tomas Tranströmer
2011 | | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, talking book, mp3, RTF | 38 pages | ISBN: | 8.71 Mb

Named after the famous song La lugubre gondola by Franz Listz, The Sorrow Gondola is filled with melancholy rumination, mourning, and strange premonitions. Although mostly comprised of short, emotional and tense poems, the collections poetic sequence for which it is named tells the story of the composition of La lugubre gondola.

While some historical knowledge is required, Transtrӧmer is generally straight-forward and direct, while simultaneously maintaining a lovely poetic voice. The Sorrow Gondola meditates on life and death, heavily imbued with nature imagery and often set out of doors, as is reflected in the collections third poem, A Page from the Nightbook:One night in May I stepped ashorethrough a cool moonlightwhere the grass and flowers were graybut smelled green.

(13)Although Transtrӧmer was born and educated in Sweden, his poetic style has a distinctive Canadian flare (or so it seems to me) demonstrated by the almost ominous presence of the natural world in his poems. While, of course, nature imagery is not limited to be used only by Canadian writers, it is often characteristic of Canadian writing that nature takes at least a minor role in any work as inescapable and extant. While “The Sorrow Gondola” is quite short, its resonance is potent. A lasting feeling of anguish accompanies the turning of the last page, neatly itself into the reader’s mind for an extended stay.

Even though this collection was originally written in Swedish, translators Michael McGriff and Mikaela Grassl do an excellent job throughout of maintaining the phonetics of the original. Admittedly, some of the poems aren’t rhymed like the originals, the overall sound of the poems is still relatively unchanged. The most noticeable difference between the original and translated poems is apparent with the poetic sequence “Haikudikter” (meaning Haikupoetry). The original poetic sequence is comprised of four sections, each with varying numbers of haikus that comprise the body of the poem.

In the original Swedish the haikus are syllabically perfect- unfortunately this is not duplicated in the English translation. While some obvious effort was made to utilize the haiku structure in some places, other sections of the poem are quite different (as far as syllables go) from the original. Although written in 1996, this collection is decidedly not post-modern. “The Sorrow Gondola” deals little with silence, instead often rhythmically imitating its namesake in the modernist fashion of what Ezra Pound famously termed “melopoeia”.

That being said, there are (at least) two very distinct voices present in this collection: the first is that of the “dreamer”, the second being the voice of history, reminiscent of Kleio. In several of the poems, a reference is made to a dream that appears to flow in and out of the narrative, sometimes directly addressed, “In the dream I drew piano keys” (p. 25) and sometimes only alluded to, “Her frozen tears became a pair of glasses” (p.

63). This is starkly contrasted, sometimes even within the same poem, with the historical narrative voice who tells the past in a straight-forward manner, “Orchids. / Oil tankers glide past. / The moon is full.” (p. 57). Considering the length, accessibility and sonority of this collection, it is hard for me to say I wouldn’t give a copy of it to anyone if I could. That being said, I don’t believe that this collection truly IS for everyone.

There is a serious and grim tone that undermines the playfulness of the dream sequences and the short forms, not to mention the lasting unease that comes with putting the completed book down. With that in mind, I believe this collection is for more well-seasoned readers who are ready to handle the solemn subject matter that Transtrӧmer presents in “The Sorrow Gondola”.

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