Tuesday poem: Syros

I’m a bit ashamed not to have known the latest Nobel Prize winner’s poetry before he won the prize this year, but at least it didn’t take me as long to acknowledge Tranströmer as it took the Nobel committee, which has apparently seriously considered him for the prize every year since 1993! Here’s a haunting example of his work for starters.


by Tomas Tranströmer

translated from Swedish by Robin Fulton

In Syros harbor leftover cargo steamers lay waiting.
Prow by prow. Moored many years since:
CAPE RION, Monrovia.
KRITOS, Andros.
SCOTIA, Panama.

Dark pictures on the water, they have been hung away.

Like toys from our childhood that have grown to giants
and accuse us
of what we never became.

The sea has read them through.

But the first time we came to Syros, it was at night,
we saw prow by prow by prow in the moonlight and thought:
What a mighty fleet, magnificent connections.

I do know it’s only Monday today, so why am I posting a Tuesday poem? Well, it’s mostly because I have the time to to it this afternoon but it’s also because The Tuesday Poem website is based in New Zealand, where it’s already 4 am on Tuesday. You might like to check out the other Tuesday poems, which you can do any day of the week by clicking on the link.

6 Responses to “Tuesday poem: Syros”

  1. Elizabeth Welsh Says:

    Belinda, I must confess, I didn’t know Transtromer’s poetry until today – so we are in the same boat! Thank you for an introduction to his work, and such a haunting, epic poem at that, but with such simple tones. Marvellous. It really stays with you. I still get so excited finding new poets, so thank you for making my Tuesday/Monday!!

  2. admin Says:

    Me too! (The excitement of finding new poets.) Have you read Alice Oswald yet? I hadn’t until I read an astonishing review of her ‘Memorial’ a few weeks ago. And yes to Transtromer – I never know what effect translation’s had, but in this case I can only think it’s been positive.

  3. Melissa Green Says:

    Dear Belinda, thank you for a beautiful introduction to a definite Master. Lovely.

  4. admin Says:

    Very glad you liked it – I’m on the track of more of his work now!

  5. Elizabeth Welsh Says:

    Belinda, I haven’t read Alice Oswald – I shall have to seek her out! There is just so much to read, isn’t there? I have been missing your Tuesday Poem posts!

  6. admin Says:

    How lovely of you Elizabeth – I’ve had some health problems which is why I haven’t been posting. But you’ve spurred me on again!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.