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The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems

4.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  711 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
The Collected Poems of one of the world's greatest living writers, Tomas Tranströmer, now available in this comprehensive edition.

In day's first hours consciousness can grasp the world
as the hand grips a sun-warmed stone.

Translated into fifty languages, the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer has had a profound influence around the world, an influence that has steadily grown and h
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 17th 2006 by New Directions
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The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotAriel by Sylvia Plath
Best Poetry Books
429th out of 1,616 books — 1,778 voters
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezA Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezHomo Faber by Max FrischThe Complete Poems, 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop
Neustadt International Prize Laureates
12th out of 52 books — 36 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,067)
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Nov 11, 2011 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing
This collection of poetry, from the whole of Transtromer's career, more than justifies the stamp of "Nobel Prize Winner" that is printed on the cover. Shamefully, I had never heard of this Swedish born poet until the week before he won the prize. I had read an article that highlighted him as a frontrunner for the prize this year and I began to seek out his poetry. It took a bit of patience, and I urge anyone to first flip around in the book for awhile until they find the right poem that speaks t ...more
Jul 19, 2014 Jenna rated it really liked it
Tomas Transtromer is the kind of poet I ought to love. For one thing, he has a gift for coming up with extended metaphors that ring entirely true and yet are so deliciously fresh that you can almost smell them:

“At road’s end I see power
and it’s like an onion
with overlapping faces
coming loose one by one..."

Transtromer's gift for conjuring outlandish-yet-precise metaphors reminded me of Yehuda Amichai, long one of my favorite poets. It also reminded me of Aristotle, who, in his Poetics, praised su
Petya Kokudeva
May 16, 2013 Petya Kokudeva rated it it was amazing
Чела съм части от тази книга на английски, сега, за радост, поживях в нея и на български. По какво долових, че ме е доближила съвсем и съм я заобичала дори повече, отколкото предполагам.

Първо. Не мога да чета, без да подчертавам. Не знам защо, все едно не чета органично и нямам контакт, ако не пиша, подчертавам и рисувам на места. НО ТАЗИ КНИГА аз направо я илюстрирах - сега гледам, какво ли няма - човечета с щръкнали коси (тях ги ползвам като NB), детелини, вълни, пр. Явно толкова ме е придърп
Many times, looking for some wild nature poetry that would say what I felt better than I could, plus something extra, I read bits of Ted Hughes. I was nearly always disappointed. What I was looking for, it turns out nearly four years after I first noted this book on Goodreads, was Tranströmer.
[BTW, I too find the name difficult to say on its own without inwardly singing the notes of the Transformers theme. But at least we've got that out of the way now.]
This Swedish Nobel Prize winner's poems,
PGR Nair
Oct 09, 2011 PGR Nair rated it it was amazing

PGR Nair

The poet Tomas Transtromer has finally tasted triumph by winning the Nobel Prize for literature for 2011. The Swedish Academy praised Mr. Tranströmer, saying that “through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.” This is absolutely true of his serene poetry.

The 80-year-old Tomas Transtromer is one of the greatest Scandinavian poets and has had a profound influence in the literary world as Sweden’s most imp
May 25, 2013 Dessislava rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
''Внезапен повей и пердето се развява.
Мълчанието сепва със звън като будилник.
Внезапен повей и пердето се развява,
догдето някъде една врата се тръшва силно

далеч оттук, в година друга.''

Поезията на Транстрьомер е изненадващо искрена. В същото време обаче тя не изглежда като от този свят, а е по-скоро негово ехо, негова сянка. Представете си как покрай вас минава красива жена, но нямате време да видите нейното лице, защото е отминала бързо. Успявате обаче да вдишате аромата й, който остава да
Dec 27, 2011 A.M. rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
My only regret after finishing this fascinating book of poetry is that I would have read the very last chapter, a prose memoir piece called "Memories of Me," prior to reading any of the poetry. I encourage new readers of this book to read the last chapter first. Transtromer's poetry is beautiful but abstruse, his images powerful but multi-layered. At times, I felt as if I were reading a poetic form of stream-of-consciousness, or a transcription from a hypnotic state of mind. In his memoir, Trans ...more
Peycho Kanev
Aug 07, 2013 Peycho Kanev rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Голямата загадка Тумас Транстрьомер

Още в началото на XX век големият норвежки писател Кнут Хамсун възкликва: „Научих толкова много от шведската поезия и най-вече от поетите й от новото поколение.” Тук е мястото да призная, че не съм задълбочен изследовател и познавач на шведската поезия, но мога да твърдя, че също съм научил много от поетите на тази държава, които съм чел в превод на английски. Такива като Хари Едмунд Мартинсон, Гунар Екельоф, Дан Андершон и Ялмар Гулберг.
Но има един шведски пое
Mar 04, 2012 Harman rated it it was amazing
Seeing as this is poetry, I don't read straight through it as I would prose, so to be honest I haven't completely finished this book, but I've read enough of it in my opinion to have "read" it.
Tomas Transtroemer is phenomenal. Rarely have I found language so powerful and intimate that resonates as deeply within me as Transtroemer's work does. The Blue House on page 169 is probably my favorite poem, at least currently. I'm crazy about the line "I am grateful for this life! But still I miss the al
Scott Cox
Perhaps it is not fair to compare poets and poetry - - especially poetry that has been translated into English from another language. However I cannot help but compare the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer with that of the recently deceased Wislawa Szymborska. Similarities? Yes. Differences? Many. This is one of the few collections I've read where I wish I had read the book's epilogue first, which in this translation contains the author's memoirs. I would have learned about Tranströmer's love for natu ...more
James F
Feb 04, 2015 James F rated it liked it
Tomas Transtrmer is surely the least prolific Nobel laureate of all time; this brief (257 page) book contains translations of all his published poetry collections, as well as a memoir of his childhood and high school years.

have to admit that I have several disadvantages in reading this: firstly, my familiarity with poetry ends about the time modern poetry begins, at the time of Mallarme; secondly, I do not know Swedish, and poetry inevitably loses much of its impact when the ideas are divorced
Jim Hale
Jan 12, 2015 Jim Hale rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I'll put it on the re-read shelf but these verses are eluding me. Another case of the Nobel Prize curse!
Jun 08, 2012 Alexis rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
Really loved Transtromer's work. He's a Swedish poet whose work has been translated into over 50 languages. He's won the Nobel prize. His work is amazing- he's a plain language poet, who writes both about nature and the urban cityscape. His images were dark and haunting, but easy to understand.

Really loved this. I'm glad that I decided to explore Swedish writers as part of my research for my upcoming trip.
Mar 19, 2012 Nick rated it it was amazing
Poems should be experienced, not talked about. But I will say that these austere, quiet poems from the Nobel Prize winner bring a vision of a lonely soul communing with nature and trying to understand the vagaries of his fellow human beings. A haiku from the "Sad Gondola" series seems to sum up his world view:

Oak trees and the moon.
Light. Silent constellations.
And the cold ocean.
Nov 06, 2011 Carrie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Tranströmer has managed to capture all of my most private, profound thoughts, wrap them up in loving words, and send them back to me. The Blue House in particular has great significance for me: "It’s always so early in here, before the crossroads, before the irrevocable choices. Thank you for this life! Still I miss the alternatives. The sketches, all of them, want to become real."
Oct 17, 2008 S. rated it liked it
Recommended to S. by: Michi G.
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2008
I haven't actually "read" the whole book, but finished most of it and found it rather slow going. Although I appreciate Tranströmer, I find it often hard to connect. I'm sure the failure is all mine...
Feb 18, 2014 Ricardo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Amazing collection. A brilliant poet. Luminous and powerful, attentive to those moments when the world unravels itself for us...
Aug 20, 2013 Pete rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A great collection through which to see Transtromer's mastery evolve while core humane interests remain, expanding outward as they do to greater issues of ethics and responsibility, of what separates or stands in the way. Always present is the question of one person's place in the whole, whether the scene, the surroundings or the society, which becomes, in subject at least, more personal as his output grows and years pass. A few are quite oblique and perhaps lost in translation, but many of thes ...more
Feb 14, 2012 Angel rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I picked this up mostly because it was convenient (my local public library had it) and because it is the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature. So, given I had not really heard of this author before, I was curious. I gave it a low rating because, for me, the book was just ok. I think other people may have a higher opinion, and that is ok. This book has some positives and some negatives. On the positive, when the author is good, he is good. There are some very rich images, very evocative of dreams and i ...more
Patti K
Jan 27, 2014 Patti K rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This collection features poems from his earliest work in 1954 to work in 2004. It also
includes a brief prose memoir written in 1993. There are many good and great poems
to be read here. Transtromer looks at the void and the shifting sense of self trying
to understand its place in the world. Some of them are deep image poems. Some are
dreamlike, others simple and forthright. Always there is a certain solemn tone that
surrounds his words. I very much enjoyed this work. There are quite a few haiku in
J.M. Hushour
Sep 11, 2014 J.M. Hushour rated it it was ok
I was surprised at how little I liked these works. A prize-winning poet, with a nice, modernist pedigree to boot, and a Swede to boot! What wouldn't there be to love? Quite a bit, sadly. I came to Transtromer by random, having found a few nice poems online that were impressive and engaging. Writ large, though, I don't find his corpus as likeable. A lot of his imagery is banal and punctuated. The entire volume felt like something incredible was trying to struggle, punch its way to the surface, bu ...more
David Murphy
Mar 12, 2012 David Murphy rated it liked it
I'm not much of a poetry buff (and the poetry I do like emphasizes meter and rhyme), but a Swedish friend gave this slim volume to me as a Christmas present and so I dutifully plowed through it. I suppose I'm glad I did. I read it back to front (in reverse chronological order), as the foreword recommended, and I'm glad I did since his later work appealed to me more.

I think Transtromer's strength is in creating these vivid images that reach up and grab you, even through translation. I would be r
Jun 02, 2014 William rated it liked it
I liked the earlier poems more that were simpler and said simpler things. I think I'd have to ruminate on the later stuff. I always like my poetry in smaller digestible doses. Such as haiku. I thought the memoir at the end would be dull, but it wasn't that half bad. Read much like the poetry. Shouldn't have been much a surprise, but that was. I sped through this and may have to give it another chance someday. Poetry takes time, and probably isn't meant to be read in an authorial works collection ...more
D. Thompson
Dec 26, 2014 D. Thompson rated it it was amazing
One of the best reads I have had since 2006 when Herbert bowled me over.
Mia Tryst
Jul 22, 2009 Mia Tryst rated it liked it
Sigh. I am having major difficulties liking this book. Maybe the translations are bad. The writing did not engage me. Maybe after a pot of coffee, some donuts (for their sugar content) and a few more years, I'll be wedded to Tranströmer's poetry. It's not happening now. It's like waiting for the light to come on and I'm just really stumbling around in the dark trying to get my bearings.
How do you translate poetry? Poetry relies so heavily on the sounds of words and subtle meanings.

It's hard to get a sense of Transtromer. I think it's only because he gets lost in translation. Everyone once in awhile I would read a line and think...ah! there it is!...only to be let down two lines on. But those few glimmers of Transtromer, they were brilliant!
Apr 07, 2013 Pierre rated it really liked it

Memories Look at Me

"A June morning, too soon to wake,
too late to fall asleep again.

I must go out—the greenery is dense
with memories, they follow me with their gaze.

They can’t be seen, they merge completely into
the background, true chameleons.

They are so close that I can hear them breathe
though the birdsong is deafening."
Tyler Malone
Oct 08, 2011 Tyler Malone rated it really liked it
The shorter poems are much more engaging than the longer poems. Mr. Tranströmer does well with sparse lines, but the longer they are, I can see than a few more edits would have unpacked what he wanted to say, or make the reader feel, in the longer poems. But this is the collection for fans of contemporary poetry to begin with, in my opinion.
Apr 19, 2012 Virginia rated it really liked it
Long, wandering, often missing a point, much like middle age!? Could have been a third as long and still made the same points. I'm glad there's some research being done on what the middle of life looks like, but by the time we get here, we don't want to waste our time. Or, we want to waste our time in ways that are more interesting.
Cooper Renner
Dec 04, 2011 Cooper Renner rated it really liked it
Better than most contemporary poetry books, hence four stars, but I agree with Jarrell--a great lyric poet only gets struck by lightning (inspiration) maybe a dozen times in life, and Transtromer is probably a near great and not a great. When he is "on", however, it is quite good. The closing prose memoir is also very interesting.
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His poetry, building on Modernism, Expressionism, and Surrealism, contains powerful imagery concerned with issues of fragmentation and isolation. “He has perfected a particular kind of epiphanic lyric, often in quatrains, in which nature is the active, energizing subject, and the self (if the self is present at all) is the object,” notes critic Katie Peterson in the Boston Review.

Critic and poet
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“I wrote so meagerly to you. But what I couldn't write
swelled and swelled like an old-fashioned airship
and drifted away at last through the night sky.”
“Every abstract picture of the world is as impossible as a blueprint of a storm,” 7 likes
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