[read the essay]
Like Andrei Tarkovsky or Arvo Pärt, Tranströmer has few works, each a distillation of a master image-maker and devotee of silence. I fell in love with Tranströmer’s poetry, like many Americans, through Samuel Charters’ translation of the book-length poem Baltics, which appeared with the incredible (but now defunct) Oyez press in Berkeley, California, in 1975. Here is the first stanza of the second section of Baltics in Charters’ translation:
The wind walks in the pine forest. It sighs heavily, lightly.
In the middle of the forest, the Baltic also sighs, deep in the
forest you’re out on the open sea.