Tomas Tranströmer: “The Music Says Freedom Exists”

Allegro

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.

Harvard Celebrates Tranströmer November 15

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Tuesday, November 15

4-6 p.m. on

Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library

Harvard University

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Harvard’s Scandinavian Program congratulates Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer for winning the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature and invites the Harvard and surrounding communities to an evening celebrating his work. This event, “Celebrating this Year’s Nobel Prize in Literature: Tranströmer Across Languages,” will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15 in the Woodberry Poetry Room of Lamont Library. Scandinavian Preceptor Ursula Lindqvist will read Tranströmer’s poems in the original Swedish; visiting scholar and poet Vasilis Papageorgiou of Linneaus University in Växjö, Sweden, will read from his translations of the poet’s work into Greek; award-winning translator and poet Rika Lesser of New York will read from her translations of Tranströmer’s work into English; and Professor Judith Ryan, an expert on the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, will read published German translations by Hans Grössel. This event is hosted by the Mahindra Humanities Center’s Seminar on Modern Greek Literature and Culture and co-sponsored by the Center’s “Rethinking Translation” seminar, the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and the Scandinavian Program. (Tranströmer read and spoke about his poetry during a visit to Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room in 1981; click on link to listen.)

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Listen to Tranströmer read in 1981 at Harvard 

Go to Harvard University Scandinavian Studies Department