Summary and book reviews of The Half-Finished Heaven by Tomas Transtromer

The Half-Finished Heaven

The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer

By Tomas Transtromer

The Half-Finished Heaven
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2001,
    122 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Marnie Colton

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Book Summary

The contemporary Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer is a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature (2011) and has a prestigious worldwide reputation. In this 2001 collection, 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 this cherished and invaluable collection.

Storm

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
hears the 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.

Two Cities

There is a stretch of water, a city on each side
one of them utterly dark, where enemies live.
Lamps are burning in the ...

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Reviews

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When Tranströmer won the Nobel Prize in October 2011, he had been writing and publishing for over half a century. His work has displayed a remarkable consistency throughout the past sixty years, not because he has failed to evolve but because the poems that he wrote as a young man in the 1950s and 60s reveal a maturity and self-confidence that have only increased with time. Tranströmer's early work doesn't read like a trial run for later greatness or an attempt to find a distinctive voice; the grace, the self-effacing humor, and the attentiveness to the world around him are already formed and ripe for refinement.   (Reviewed by Marnie Colton).

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Media Reviews
The North Stone Review

"A broad retrospective on Tranströmer's work."

Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Tranströmer explores mystery and surprise, psychology and nature, invisible and visible worlds."

The New York Times Book Review

"The poems of Tomas Tranströmer are points of entry 'upward into / the depths' of an imagination, a spirit that is regeneratively inventive, capacious, unillusioned, undaunted, admirable... This extraordinary collection of work by one of Sweden's greatest contemporary poets presents a rich sampling of verse published during the past five decades."

Publishers Weekly

"Mystical, versatile and sad..."

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Tomas Tranströmer

Tomas Transtromer Tomas Tranströmer was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1931, and spent his career as a psychologist. The author of a dozen books of poetry, Tranströmer is the most renowned Scandinavian poet since World War II. His poetry has been translated into more than fifty languages. In 2011, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality." He has received numerous other honors, including the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Bonnier Award for Poetry, Germany's Petrach Prize, the Bellman Prize, the Swedish Academy's Nordic Prize, the August Prize, and a Special Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry. For ...

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