The music of Haydn or Schubert together with the visuality reminding for instance of the surrealists’ paintings or of the transcendental optics of Vermeer, as well as of the delicate metamorphosis of the banality of everyday life in ukiyo-e prints (to name just a few examples) reveal – often strikingly – “den innersta paradoxen i Tranströmer’s poesi som har förblivit sig märkvärdigt lik ända sedan debuten på femtitalet. Som Schubert är han “sig själv i alla förvandlingar”. Men så alldeles utan förvandlingar är han inte”. (Gustafsson 1978: 410).

Tranströmer’s early poems could be defined as baroque romantic with elements visible from both the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries (Bly 1990: 570) but his poetics underwent some changes in order to respond to the fluctuations of time, to the permutations in social and cultural contexts, in reading public’s views and taste. And also in his personal life and experience although his solid and brilliant poems in rhythmic cadences or in the format of prose seem unaffected by the outer world keeping an invisible link with something other than what we call reality. Tranströmer’s imagery, grounded as it is in the most common spheres and circumstances of human life is not only supported but also reinforced by the symbiosis with metrical mastery and musical appropriateness evident in almost all of his works from the very first poems like Prelude, Autumnal Archipelago, Five Stanzas to Thoreau, Strophe and Counter-Strophe, Agitated Meditation, Song, Elegy… (Preludium, Höstlig skärgård, Fem strofer till Thoreau, Strof och motstrof, Upprörd meditation, Sång, Elegi…) and transferred to the poetic process narrowly connected with his musical talent and deep interest in music. In some interviews Tranströmer acknowledges the fact that he is more concerned with pictures than with music and even when some poems have musical terms for titles, the use of colours as “hot spots”, as vehicles for symbols and suggestions clearly prevail. Here follows an example:


                                          Jag spelar Haydn efter en svart dag

                                          Och känner en enkel värme i händerna.


                                          Tangenterna vill. Milda hammare slår.

                                          Klangen är grön, livlig och stilla.


                                         Klangen säger att friheten finns

                                         och att någon inte ger kejsaren skatt.


                                        Jag kör ner händerna i mina haydnfickor

                                        och härmar en som ser lugnt på världen.


                                        Jag hissar haydnflaggan - det betyder:

                                        “Vi ger oss inte. Men vill fred.”


                                        Musiken är ett glashus på sluttningen

                                        där stenarna flyger, stenarna rullar.


                                        Och stenarna rullar tvärs igenom

                                        men varje ruta förblir hel.