Monday, January 02, 2006


I’ve been thinking about amnesia lately, that old story line, thinking about writing something with that premise. The inspiration came for this beautifully clear but haunting prose poem of Tomas Tranströmer’s from The Half-Finished Heaven translated by Robert Bly.

The Name

I got sleepy while driving and pulled in under a tree at the side of the road. Rolled up in the backseat and went to sleep. How long? Hours. Darkness had come.

All of a sudden I was awake, and didn’t know who I was. I’m fully conscious, but that doesn’t help. Where am I? WHO am I? I am something that has just woken up in a backseat, throwing itself around in a panic like a cat in a gunnysack. Who am I?

After a long while my life comes back to me. My name comes to me like an angel. Outside the castle walls there is a trumpet blast (as in the Leonora Overture) and the footsteps that will save me come quickly down the long staircase. It’s me coming! It’s me.

But it is impossible to forget the fifteen-second battle in the hell of nothingness, a few feet from a major highway where the cars slip past with their lights on.


p.s. you might want to check out how another Tranströmer poem inspired another blogger this last fall here at MoonOver Pittsburgh


Blogger Moon said...

Thanks, Audrey, for linking and speaking favorably of my Transtromer post. Coincidentally, following my Sarah Arvio post, I wrote the same Branda I mentioned in that post and asked her to recommend another Transtromer for me. In ordering the Arvio, I wanted to add a few other volumes -- a Transtromer, a Jorie Graham, a Michael Burkard (under whom Branda studied). She recommended the Bly translation you've quoted here.

Again, thanks for stopping by.

6:43 AM  
Blogger Rob Mackenzie said...

I really like Transtromer's stuff. Thanks for posting that one.

3:40 PM  

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