Combining poetry and a memoir of his childhood in Sweden in one volume, For the Living and the Dead once again demonstrates Tomas TranstrÖmer's gift for capturing and grounding the elusive, luminous details of our modern world. A work that bridges the space between those real and unreal elements of life, it suggests that a surprising, redemptive cohesion can exist within a universe of opposing forces.
Tomas Transtromer, recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature, was born in Stockholm in 1931 and is a psychologist by profession. One of Sweden’s most distinguished poets, he has also received the Bonnier Poetry Prize and the Petrarch Prize in Germany. He lives in Stockholm with his wife, Monica.
Read an Excerpt
THE FORGOTTEN CAPTAIN
We have many shadows. I was on the way home in the September night when Y climbed out of his grave after forty years and kept me company.
At first he was entirely empty, only a name, but his thoughts swam faster than the time ran and caught up to us.
I put his eyes to mine and saw the sea in wartime. The last boat he commanded grew beneath us.
The ships of the Atlantic convoy crept before and behind, the ones that would survive and the ones that had been given The Mark (invisible to everyone)
while the sleepless nights relieved each other but never him. The life jacket sat under the oil skin. He never came home.
He bled to death from an inner weeping in a hospital in Cardiff. He finally got to lie down and turn into horizon.
Goodbye eleven knot convoys! Goodbye 1940! Here ends the history of the world. The bombing planes were left hanging. The heaths bloomed.
The photo from the turn of the century shows a beach. Standing there are six dressed up boys. They have sailboats in their arms. What serious expressions!
The boats that become life and death for some of them. And to write about the dead is also a game that gets heavy with what is to come.