This poem was featured as part of the Poetry Periscope project. Originally published in New Collected Poems (2010) by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robin Fulton and published by Bloodaxe Books. Reproduced with kind permission of the publisher. A celebration of European poetry in the lead up to the EU referendum in 2016.

The Nightingale in Badelunda

by Tomas Tranströmer

In the green midnight at the nightingale’s northern limit. Heavy leaves hang in trance, the deaf cars race towards the neon-line. The nightingale’s voice rises without wavering to the side, it is as penetrating as a cock-crow, but beautiful and free of vanity. I was in prison and it visited me. I was sick and it visited me. I didn’t notice it then, but I do now. Time streams down from the sun and the moon and into all the tick-tock-thankful clocks. But right here there is no time. Only the nightingale’s voice, the raw resonant notes that whet the night sky’s gleaming scythe.

 

Translated from Swedish by Robin Fulton

This poem read in Swedish at 8m52s:

 

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