Excerpt of The Half-Finished Heaven by Tomas Transtromer
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The man on a walk suddenly meets the old
giant oak like an elk turned to stone with
its enormous antlers against the dark green castle wall
of the fall ocean.
Storm from the north. It's nearly time for the
rowanberries to ripen. Awake in the night he
constellations far above the oak
stamping in their stalls.
The Half-Finished Heaven
Cowardice breaks off on its path.
Anguish breaks off on its path.
The vulture breaks off in its flight.
The eager light runs into the open,
even the ghosts take a drink.
And our paintings see the air,
red beasts of the ice-age studios.
Everything starts to look around.
We go out in the sun by hundreds.
Every person is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.
The endless field under us.
Water glitters between the trees.
The lake is a window into the earth.
There is a stretch of water, a city on each side
one of them utterly
dark, where enemies live.
Lamps are burning in the other.
The well-lit shore hypnotizes the dark shore.
I swim out in a trance
on the glittering dark water.
A steady note of a tuba comes in.
It's a friend's voice: "Take up your grave and walk."
After a black day, I play Haydn,
and feel a little warmth in my hands.
The keys are ready. Kind hammers fall.
The sound is spirited, green, and full of silence.
The sound says that freedom exists
and someone pays no tax to Caesar.
I shove my hands in my haydnpockets
and act like a man who is calm about it all.
I raise my haydnflag. The signal is:
"We do not surrender. But want peace."
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.
Tomas Tranströmer. Storm, The Half-Finished Heaven, and Two Cities, from The Half-Finished Heaven. English translation copyright © 2001 by Robert Bly. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.