FRIENDS, YOU DRANK SOME DARKNESS: Three Swedish Poets by Robert -- Ed. & Trans. Bly


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Three Swedish poets who would go unnoticed were it not for the fact that one of them, Harry Martinson, shared last year's particularly controversial Nobel Prize for literature with a countryman. These few poems by Martinson, who's also a novelist and story writer, are all there is now in print of his work in English, so the curiosity-seekers are bound to be there. His is the poetry of a seaman, short and evocative, with no sense of artifice about it. There are country fields and seascapes, a visit to the Congo, a description of the fisherman vs. the millionaire, a meditation on the earthworm as a metaphor for the common man. They're simple and effortless and show what the relationship is between extra and ordinary. What a contrast Gunnar Ekeloff makes. He's a city poet and he is not at ease with life or death. His tense poems turn on paradoxes and oppositions borrowed from the intellect of the East. For him, our condition is expressed in blindness, prison, revolt, uselessness. But the book's amazing title comes from the ""Elegy"" of Tomas Transtromer, a sea pilot and psychologist who's a full generation younger than Martinson and Ekeloff. He writes heavily imagistic and often surreal poems about dreamers, music, solitude. Bly's worked on translation with him for some time now. This is, of course, a bilingual text -- you expect no less from Robert Bly; and now that Auden's gone, he's the only writer equipped for this work.

Pub Date: May 9th, 1975
Publisher: Beacon