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The Half-Finished Heaven

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  317 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
From the Winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature

The contemporary Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer is a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature and has a prestigious worldwide reputation. Robert Bly, a longtime friend and confidant of Tranströmer's, as well as one of his first translators, has carefully chosen and translated the finest of Tranströmer's poems to create
Paperback, 122 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Graywolf Press (first published 1962)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 783)
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Peycho Kanev
Feb 07, 2013 Peycho Kanev rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I met him a few years ago when he was visiting his friend, one of the best Bulgarian poets Lyubomir Levchev.
We talked a little, I mean I talked, he was just listening. (Tranströmer suffered a stroke in 1990 that left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak.) Then he wrote on a napkin something that I will keep only for myself.
I still consider him one of the great poets I ever read. With Tomas Transtromer, there is no real comparison. He has been by far the most original, the most satisfyi
Dec 31, 2011 Julie rated it it was amazing
On this final day of 2011, I share a transcendent poem:

From March '79

Being tired of people who come with words, but no speech,
I made my way to the snow-covered island.
The wild does not have words.
The pages free of handwriting stretched out on all sides!
I came upon the tracks of reindeer in the snow.
Speech but no words.

As we look back on a year of increased political polarization and as we anticipate the propagandizing and muck-racking misery of Campaign 2012 to come, Tomas Tranströmer's beauti
David Schaafsma
Aug 07, 2015 David Schaafsma rated it it was amazing
Friend Jenn said I had to read Tranströmer, the Swedish poet who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2011 and died in March, 2015 at 83. Born working class, he took his degree in psychology to work as a psychologist with mostly juveniles in state institutions. He played classical piano, and also wrote ten books of poetry. The main translator of his work is his long time friend Robert Bly, who made and translated the selections from his work for this volume. Tranströmer had a stroke in 1990, after whi ...more
Apr 18, 2010 Emily rated it it was amazing
Transtromer writes poems that you would expect someone with a name like that to write. Magic spell poems. Cat watching you poems.

The Couple

They switch off the light and its white shade
glows for a instant and then dissolves
like a tablet in a glass of darkness. Then up.
The hotel walls rise into the black sky.

The movements of love have settled, and they sleep
but their most secret thoughts begin to meet
like two colors meet and flow together
on the wet paper in a schoolboy's painting.

It is dark and
Mar 07, 2014 Jsavett1 rated it it was amazing
So there's always something of a philosophical quandary about reading poetry in translation. I tend, as a general rule, not to do it, though on some occasions have found reason to make an exception. Two such cases were the works of Wislawa Szymborska and Czeslaw Milosz. They just seemed too important to miss. And of course, the act of translating poetry is an art form unto itself. That's why I decided to get this particular version of Transtromer's "best" poems translated by Robert Bly, a poet w ...more
James Murphy
Feb 21, 2012 James Murphy rated it liked it
In a poem called "Allegro" Transtromer writes:

"The music is a house of glass standing on a slope,
rocks are flying, rocks are rolling.

The rocks roll straight through the house
but every pane of glass is still whole."

My response to this volume of poetry, I suppose. It doesn't speak to me distinctly. He voices a low murmur under his breath. I have trouble hearing. It would help if he'd sing a bit, break a few windows. But there's little music here.
Víctor Bermúdez
The good: El delicado prólogo de Robert Bly, "Upward into the Depths" es muy afortunado.
The bad: Se echa en falta el texto bilingüe, para no tener que acudir a otras ediciones. En el caso de Tranströmer, y particularmente si el lector desconoce la lengua sueca, encuentro especialmente útil 'ver' el poema original. La imagen del texto.
The gap: La selección es siempre subjetivamente insuficiente, aunque incluye textos fundamentales de la poética de Tranströmer como "The Half-Finished Heaven" o "M
May 19, 2014 Luciano rated it really liked it
Tomas Tranströmer es el poeta vivo más importante de Suecia y su nombre aparece todos los años en los medios como candidato al premio Nobel. Este libro es una antología de su trayectoria, desde su primera obra, 17 poemas, hasta su interés por los haikus, e incluye, además, su magnífica autobiografía.

Tranströmer ha compaginado durante toda su vida su trabajo de psicólogo en centros penitenciarios y hospitales con la escritura de poemas, intentando transmitir cierto orden al mundo. Con un estilo p
Patti K
Jun 01, 2013 Patti K rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This volume of selected poems are from an earlier stage in Transtromer's
long career. The work here is nearly astounding with its silences and
nuanced wisdoms. Forthright yet magical at times, they each take the\
reader to another country or state of mind. Highly recommend.
Nathan Long
A quick perusal of my goodreads shelves says that it's been almost nine months since I last read a collection of poetry in its entirety. It's a major source of guilt. I always mean to read more poetry, I just have a hard time getting into collections. It requires more brain power than I'm often willing to exert to get through it.

Tranströmer is not hard to read at all. He'll focus all his poems around building up strong central images, then showing depth to them. He keeps them all sparse, and use
Dec 20, 2011 Joe rated it it was amazing
You know a book of poetry has captured you when you end up writing poems of your own in the back pages, amongst the several dozen or so lines you've written out from the book so that you can remember them later. The images found by Transtomer are arresting and precise, honest enough to glue you to your subway seat, reading the same stanza over and over, trying to articulate the piercing truth you know you've already absorbed. There's little more I can describe; instead, I want to type out severa ...more
Dec 04, 2011 A.M. rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I enjoyed this book of poetry though I am curious to read a different translation and will soon embark on his collected works by a different translator. Transtromer's poetry is especially perfect for this time of year - late fall into winter. I liked this line from the poem "The Half-Finished Heaven" - "The lake is a window into the earth." A number of other poems stood out for me, including "About History" (especially Section V), "Solitude," "Preludes," "The Name," "The Scattered Congregation" ...more
Patrick Mcgee
Mar 02, 2013 Patrick Mcgee rated it really liked it
This was my first experience with Transtromer's work. His lyrical jumps are most impressive and his poems always surprising, complex, and rewarding. I give this book 4 stars more for the translation than the quality of Transtromer's poems. After picking up The Great Enigma (Transtromer's collected works translated by Robin Fulton) it is apparent that Bly's translation lacks, well...poetics. It feels more like a straight up literal translation than one completed by a poet. There is a big differen ...more
Sep 07, 2014 Philip rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I think I prefer Robin Robertson's translations... but Transtromer relentlessly seeps through nonetheless.
Mar 04, 2012 Ann rated it it was amazing
"It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat/but often the shadow seems more real than the body./The samurai looks insignificant/beside his armor of black dragon scales." Transtromer, who rightfully won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature, writes about the void, the unknowable; but his poems are brilliantly quiet and seemingly unassuming. He's equally good at the lyric and the prose poem. I think Robert Bly is still Transtromer's best English translator. It's easy to feel that the best poems in ...more
Peter Milligan
Jan 24, 2015 Peter Milligan rated it it was amazing
My top ten book of poetry. Read this 1000 times!
William Reichard
Jan 12, 2012 William Reichard rated it it was amazing
A teacher of mine, the late John Engman, introduced me to Transtromer's work many years ago, and it's work that's stayed with me ever since. What draws me into the poems is their sense of wholeness, despite the fact that the narrative structures are often cracked, and odd, stray bits of other images or narratives seem to wander in. But they wander in so seamlessly! Reading Transtromer's work always inspires me. Robert Bly's translations keep the poems grounded - ordinary occurrences that take on ...more
Feb 26, 2012 Adam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
After finishing the book on an airplane, I cried. I was sad it was over and overwhelmed with how powerful the collection turned out to be. Maybe some of the best poetry I have read. Transformer and Bly move so deftly from one image to the next; the collection felt whole. I was fully engaged, almost lusting after the subtle moves the poems make. I imitated numerous poems, hoping for something to rub off on my own writing. I am buying more of his work tomorrow.
Edward Rathke
Oct 16, 2012 Edward Rathke rated it it was amazing
After reading this short selection of his poetry, I can see why he's a Nobel Laureate.

It's incredibly beautiful what he does throughout his career. He's rather inventive, too, sticking to no singular style but every poem remains very much him.

There's a gentleness, a sort of nostalgic longing, as well as that beauty found in impermanence.

Truly, some beautiful poems within.

Highly recommended.
Camelia Rose
Sep 21, 2015 Camelia Rose rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I am permanently reading and re-reading this poetry collection.

Robert Bly, the translator, says in the introduction "Tomas Transtromer has a strange genius for images". Nothing strange at all, the imaginative imagery in his poems is very natural and even familiar to me.The world created through his poems makes me feel I have been there before but only better.

Jun 18, 2014 Cat rated it liked it
Aisha Al-sulaiti
Feb 14, 2014 Aisha Al-sulaiti rated it it was ok
Shelves: شع-ر, 2014
قصائده تشبه القصص القصيرة, برع في تصوير الأشياء ونقل الاصوات والاشكال، لكن قصائده خاليه تقريبا من المشاعر.
May 23, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Tomas Transtromer: Shadower and Silencer. Speaker of the Sublime and the Subterranean. Speech Therapist.
Jan 26, 2014 Jimmy rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry-authors
May be the biggest disappointment of my poetic readings. If he won the Nobel Prize for literature, how did writers like John Updike and others not win it?

His work has been described as "the poetry of silence." I guess I need a hearing aid.
Jan 15, 2013 Valerie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Valerie by: Margareta

actually 4.5....brilliant, but I struggle with poetry. This was a gift from my wonderful flickr friend, Margareta
Sep 09, 2013 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Moja najljubša zbirka poezije. Sporočila človeku, podata s preprostimi besedami, ki dolgo ostanejo nekje pri srcu. Čeprav sem jo prebrala že neštetokrat, zmeraj odkrijem kaj novega.
Tank Green
May 23, 2008 Tank Green rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
really beautiful poetry, although after having read several different translations by bly, i have to wonder how much of what i like is his...
Dec 31, 2013 Valeria rated it it was ok
I was underwhelmed by this book. I am not sure if the translation wasn't successful or if the original text didn't click with me.
Mar 19, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent book. Transtromer has a unique style and a wonderful sense of language. I highly recommend his work.
Mar 04, 2012 Maddelyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
the sea, the woods, the city streets -- and the most astounding imagery and similes I've ever seen...
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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
More about Tomas Tranströmer...

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