Monday, 11 April 2016

'Gläntan' by Thomas Tranströmer in English translation

My golden rule is: Never look at other translations before attempting your own. Afterwards, go ahead. I have just gone ahead, and on the Internet those I have found embroider on the text. So here's one that, whatever faults it may have, at least stays close to it.

The clearing

Deep in the forest there is an unexpected clearing that can only be found by someone who has got lost.

The clearing is enclosed by a forest that is choking itself. Black tree trunks with the ash-grey stubble of lichens. The tightly intertwined trees are dead right up to their crowns, where a few small green branches graze the light. Beneath: shadows brooding on shadows, the expanding marshland.

But in the open space of the clearing the grass is strangely green and alive. Here large stones lie as if ordered. They must be the foundation stones of a house, or maybe I’m wrong. Who lived here? No one can inform us about this. Perhaps the names are in some archive that no one opens (only the archives stay young). The oral tradition is dead and thus the memories also. The tribe of gipsies knows but the literate forget.  Note, forget.

The croft murmurs with voices, it is the world’s centre. But its inhabitants die or move out, the annals cease. It stands deserted for many years. And the croft becomes a sphinx. Finally the foundation stones are all that remain.

Somehow I have been here before, but must leave now. I dive into the brushwood. It is just possible to force a way through with one step forward and two sideways, like a chess knight. Gradually, the forest thins out and it grows lighter. My steps lengthen. A footpath sneaks up on me. I am back in the communications network.

On the humming power line pylon a beetle sits in the sun. Beneath the gleaming casings its wings just are ingeniously folded as a parachute packed by an expert.

1 comment:

John Irons said...

you can hear tranströmer read this poem at: