Publishers Weekly, 1997-08-25 There is no explicit mention in these pages of the devastating recent stroke that severely impaired the ability of Transtr¸mer, one of Sweden's most distinguished poets, to speak, read and write. Nevertheless, this slender volume, published in Sweden in 1996 and the first new collection to appear there since Transtr¸mer's illness, centers unmistakably on the controlled anguish that the 66-year-old poet's physical conditionŠand encroaching mortalityŠimposes. "I am carried in my shadow/ like a violin/ in its black case," he writes in "April and Silence": "The only thing I want to say/ glitters out of reach/ like the silver/ in a pawnbroker's." What saves the collection from morbidness is the formal beauty and remorselessly compressed clarity of the writing. Indeed, the almost telegraphic brevity of the poems is the volume's only concession to Transtr¸mer's handicap. With the exception of the four-page title poem, a meditation on Wagner's final months, most of the pieces are only a few stanzas long, yet they retain all the force of the poet's earlier work. Fulton's translations, while able, are marred by occasional inaccuracies. Alternate versions of some of the poems can be seen in Ecco Press's 1995 Transtr¸mer collection, For the Living and the Dead. (Sept.)
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