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Selected Poems, 1954-1986

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  304 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Tomas TranstrOmer's poems are thick with the feel of life lived in a specific place: the dark, overpowering Swedish winters, the long thaws and brief paradisal summers in the Stockholm archipelago. He conveys a sense of what it is like to be a private citizen in the second half of the twentieth century.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 9th 2000 by Ecco (first published 1981)
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190th out of 442 books — 398 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 19, 2014 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Another autumn has come and gone and this one I'll remember for the fogs that hung over the town while the leaves changed; a report about a wolf or a coyote that might have been waiting at the end of the path; a beautiful, rolling piece of farmland I had hoped for years the developers wouldn't destroy for profit, an example of our agricultural town since gone, ground evoking the historical past where the empire had once marched through these fields (the British Empire, in this case) to sway us i ...more
May 01, 2012 Jeremy added it
Shelves: poetry
Tomas Transtromer is an absolutely stunning poet. His writing has this icy, clear-eyed precision about it. At times it makes you feel literally chilled, like jumping into a cold ocean, or sucking in a freezing breath on a winter morning. The striking immediacy that rings through his work (some of which was written way back in the 1950's) is something that few writers or poets can pull off. He forces you to reckon with reality in a more direct and fundamental way by showing you what someone can e ...more
James Grinwis
Mar 03, 2012 James Grinwis rated it it was amazing
I love these poems. Transtomer to me is like a long lost and endeared older brother or uncle. The poems do miraculous things with, Neruda like, a simplicity that never baffles. I love this book.
Sep 16, 2009 unnarrator marked it as to-read
Book stolen from me as I slept on a pew
In Chicago's Union Station, in 1992.
David Alexander
Apr 27, 2013 David Alexander rated it it was amazing
In the Nile Delta

The young wife wept over her food

in the hotel after a day in the city

where she saw the sick creep and huddle

and children bound to die of want.

She and her husband went to their room.

Sprinkled water to settle the dirt.

Lay on their separate beds with few words.

She fell in a deep sleep. He lay awake.

Out in the darkness a great noise ran past.

Murmers, tramping, cries, carts, songs.

All in want. Never came to a stop.

And he sank in sleep curled in a No.

A dream came. He was on a voyage.

May 04, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing
well he didn't receive a Novel, I mean Noble prize for nothing, but don't take my word for it, read the book!
Apr 02, 2008 Penny rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with Transtromer's poetry when I was in college. His poem Kyrie has influenced two of my poems in my book The Last Time We Were Children. I highly recommend this poet!
Jun 10, 2009 Kallie rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Vertiginous insights in mundane contexts; a great combination.
Nov 08, 2009 rebecca is currently reading it
holy smokes. especially more rad because his name rhymes with transformers.
Nov 23, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it
I love being clumsy. I love stumbling into, onto, near a poet this simply awesome. I love the translation, these are poems you KNOW were written in another language, and lose nothing in English because the translators keep a little awkwardness to remind you. I was and still am stunned when I think when these poems were written; ages and ages ago (50’s, 60’s, 70’s) but feel as real and immediate as the now. Of course, they evoke Sweden in winter, of course, of course; but they also are written by ...more
Jan 27, 2014 Greg rated it it was amazing
Late in this collection of poems lives “Carillon” and late in that poem you find the perfect line to describe Transtromer’s poetry:
No one decides where I go, least of all myself, though each step is where it must be.
The images are stark and mystical. They poems are modern and at times surreal, yet it is difficult to place a date on them. These poems do not at first strike you…they seep into you. Once there, they fix themselves to your memory and you do not forget them. In short, this is a great
Oct 08, 2016 Nathan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This won the Nobel Prize. Sigh.
Mar 21, 2012 Brett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
After he received the Nobel Prize I found myself curious. I searched some of his poems and found "The Couple," and was extremely interested in reading more of his work. I soon found out that the reasons I loved "The Couple" (mainly, it's subject of romantic love) is not really representative of what he typically writes about. After shifting my preconceived notions on what I was to find in the poems, I'm glad to say I still found his work stunning. Some of these poems took me a few more reads tha ...more
Apr 06, 2012 Patty rated it it was ok
My review is of this selection, really, not of the poems as individual poems. I thought some of the poems were quite good, but there were so many of them by so many translators from so many periods, that I couldn't really decide if I liked the poet's work or the translator's work. I'll probably try again with a single book of his poems. Of the translations in here, I liked those by Eric Sellin the best, but there were only three of them.
So I have now read about half (I'm guessing) of his work and I simply don't see what the big deal is. Out of ~125 poems, I liked three. There are some nice lines and images sprinkled throughout, but he simply does not speak to me. At least, his work up to the mid-1980s does not.

This is not to make any sort of judgment regarding the quality of his poetry. Perhaps it *is* great poetry. I can live with that judgment by others. Nonetheless, it does not speak to me.
Oct 17, 2014 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book last week and can't put it back on the shelf. Keep re-reading poems and underlining words and phrases, annotating. Transtromer is a poet from another dimension, one landscaped with forests and ice and sea and sky and language put together in a way I've never read. Mind officially blown.
Jun 27, 2015 Ron rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I don't think I'm a big fan of Tomas Transtromer. The ones that I did enjoy from this collection:

Five Stanzas to Thoreau
Agitated Meditation
The Couple
From an African Diary (1963)
An Artist in the North
Slow Music
Brief Pause in the Organ Recital
From March '79
Answers to Letters
Jun 26, 2012 Van rated it liked it
To be honest, I skipped around a bit, and I never really liked any of the poems as much as I did the first one, "Prelude," which begins "Awakening is a parachute jump from a dream./Freed from the choking vortex, the diver/sinks towards the green map of morning..." A very cool, accurate way of describing what it feels like to wake up.
Jul 24, 2016 Nan rated it really liked it
Although these poems ground him as a citizen of Sweden, of the dark winter, and of the stormy seas, they also show him as king of the known and unknown world. Nothing can hide from Tomas Transtromer's eye. His universe is "full of monsters which" this reader loves.
Kim Kralowec
Apr 04, 2016 Kim Kralowec rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This edition includes a mix of translators, which gives the book an uneven feel. It was helpful to me to learn that I preferred May Swenson's translations over the others. I then went out and got her book of wonderful Transtromer translations.
Dennis James Sweeney
Feb 10, 2014 Dennis James Sweeney rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'm not sure I've ever read a book where I've finished so many pages being completely shocked that something so beautiful exists.
Sorin Hadârcă
Jan 05, 2015 Sorin Hadârcă rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful silences. States of solitude that do not come from within but from the landscapes and times where/when the Self vanishes. Like a dream. Airy. Well... Beautiful, that's it.
Oct 06, 2011 Vicky rated it it was amazing
Congrats on 2011 nobel peace prize,
That which is I in him is at rest.
It exists.He doesn't notice
and therefore it lives,exists.
Mar 30, 2014 Sami777 rated it really liked it
Aunque no soy muy fanática de la poesía las imágenes que crea este poeta son asombrosas y tan vividas que son capaces de llevarnos a lugares maravillosos.
Therese Broderick
Jan 26, 2013 Therese Broderick rated it really liked it
Stunning metaphors which seem to quicken from an inborn reflex, rather than from calculated invention. Next time I teach about metaphor, these poems will serve as superlative models.
Jason Waldrop
Jason Waldrop rated it it was amazing
Aug 22, 2012
Bernardo Serra
Bernardo Serra rated it liked it
Dec 09, 2012
Stephanie rated it liked it
Jul 27, 2009
Shef Reynolds
Shef Reynolds rated it it was amazing
Oct 02, 2015
Joseph rated it it was amazing
Apr 03, 2016
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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.

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