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Solitude (I)

By (January 1, 2010) 3 Comments

translated by Robin Robertson

I was nearly killed here, one night in February.
My car shivered, and slewed sideways on the ice,
right across into the other lane. The slur of traffic
came at me with their lights.

My name, my girls, my job, all
slipped free and were left behind, smaller and smaller,
further and further away. I was a nobody:
a boy in a playground, suddenly surrounded.

The headlights of the oncoming cars
bore down on me as I wrestled the wheel through a slick
of terror, clear and slippery as egg-white.
The seconds grew and grew – making more room for me –
stretching huge as hospitals.

I almost felt that I could rest
and take a breath
before the crash.

Then something caught: some helpful sand
or a well-timed gust of wind. The car
snapped out of it, swinging back across the road.
A signpost shot up and cracked, with a sharp clang,
spinning away in the darkness.

And it was still. I sat back in my seat-belt
and watched someone tramp through the whirling snow
to see what was left of me.


Tomas Tranströmer was born in Stockholm in 1931. He is Scandinavia’s preeminent poet.

Robin Robertson is from the north-east coast of Scotland. He has won a number of awards for his poetry, including all three Forward Prizes and the E.M. Forster Award. His fourth collection, The Wrecking Light, will be published in the UK in early 2010.

Solitude (I) first appeared in The Deleted World: versions of Tomas Tranströmer (Enitharmon Press, 2006).


  • kinky nobel says:

    well first of all i want to congratulate the scandinavian god of poetry tomas transtromer for his win in nobel of literature 2011
    his poetry had a rare quality as many other candidates
    and finally swedish academy prooved that poetry worths and that it is not useless to write poems on an anti poetic era with economic difficulties

    furthermore the byzantine cycles here in grece celebrated the win of thomas transtromer because the greek candidate looses and because they didnt know anything about poetry and thomas transtromer is a very good teacher of poetry and they could learn more about poetry because all byzantine emperors with exception of justinian were highly uneducated and they believed that the psalms of jesus christ that this thing was a poetry.

    furthermore these byzantine cycles were the same that put fires on ancient olympia undermining the paganistic candidancy of kiki dimoula and her wonderful poetry in 2007 and of course we all know that byzantines do not like not even their own stomachs and their anus.

    i hope good recovery for me and a celebration tio mr transtromer whose poetry appreciated by me and he knows that of course



    it contains the poems exhibition of orthodromic retrospection and new york olympia

  • Bharat Mehru says:

    Just beautiful poem,many among us have passed through the same experience but a poetic heart could express those momements with such clearity.

  • A.K. Das says:

    Solitude(1) reminds me of Chinua Achebe’s poem Butterfly. The difference is that while the poet survived the crash, the gentle butterfly perished in ‘yellow sacrifice’.

    -15 October 2011 at 6.30pm

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