- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

Tomas Tranströmer on Language, Poetry, “Truth,” and More.


Happy birthday, Tomas Tranströmer! Here are some quotes from the writer:


“We always feel younger than we are. I carry inside myself my earlier faces, as a tree contains its rings. The sum of them is me. The mirror sees only my latest face, while I know all my previous ones.”


“What an impression those scribblings would make! There is the fundamental situation of poetry. The lesson of official life goes rumbling on. We send inspired notes to one another.”


“Tired of all who come with words, words but no language
l went to the snow-covered island.
The wild does not have words.
The unwritten pages spread out on all sides!
I come upon the tracks of roe deer in the snow.
Language but no words.”


“Maybe poetry’s role is to change our conventional modes of thought and search for dimensions within us that the commercial forces don’t really like.”


“Those who cannot be anywhere but on their front.
Those who are never distracted.
Those who never open the wrong door and get a glimpse of the unidentified one.
Walk past them!”


“You need to give a text time to mature. Their qualities don’t become apparent immediately. Give them time and patience. ‘Truth’ is a kind of contract with the reader. Spontaneity is all very good and well, but it doesn’t always find the way to truth.”


“Task: to be where I am.
Even when I’m in this solemn and absurd
role: I am still the place
where creation works on itself.”


“In the middle of work
we start longing fiercely for wild greenery,
for the Wilderness itself, penetrated only
by the thin civilization of the telephone wires.”


“You could almost pause
and breathe out for a while
before being crushed.”


“Fantastic to feel how my poem grows
while I myself shrink.
It is growing, it takes my place
It pushes me out of its way.
It throws me out of the nest.”

“Experience, its beautiful slag.”


“Truth doesn’t need any furniture.”


“The sound is spirited, green, and full of silence. / The sound says that freedom exists.”


“What I mean of course is that voices on the radio and in politics and public life in general speak a language that marches all too well with the executioners and therefore I, we, must seek a new language that does not collaborate with the executioners.”


“Two truths approach each other. One comes from inside, the other from outside, and where they meet we have a chance to catch sight of ourselves.”


“[Y]ou have the truth of your inner world […] and there is the truth of the outer world. When there is a confrontation of the two your true character is exposed, at this confrontation you get a glimpse of “WHO I AM.” And most people are afraid of that, they want to have the two worlds apart. They can take a lot of suffering, build endlessly defense mechanisms and barriers, even risk their life to escape knowing themselves.”


“What I say is that finding the truth, being honest, etc., is a difficult individualistic act of balance, you have to put off the rhetoric, all slogans and mustaches and prejudices and…Just like being before Death.”


“So much we have to trust, simply to live through our daily day without sinking through the earth!”


“I sometimes have the feeling that I have a duty to do for some hidden Consciousness. Why do I have to live through this constant confusion, to see and hear all these things, what does it mean?”


“You’re never finished with poetry.”


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