A pianist and a composer, a connoisseur of music with professional knowledge in the field of its theory, Tranströmer more often than not succumbs to the temptation to transpose forms and devices typical of the art of tones into his lyrical works but, generally, he tries to do it discreetly so that not to separate it from the verse and from the overall artistic organization of the poem, in which everything seems complete in its entirety. He frequently resorts to the stimuli and approaches of the Spätstil6, guiding music to the narrower bounds of tonality, modulating it psychologically and, parallel to the overpowering of its emotional intensity, imparting structures and sound close to those of modernism. In his works from the second half of his life, T.S. Eliot ( 1888-1965), for instance, is inspired by the late Beethoven for his cycle Four Quartets which Tranströmer describes as his ”crisp daily bread” which nourished him in the course of his creative development and apparently predetermined the influences enriching him. Among them is the literary movement from the first two decades of the 20th century, imagism, with Ezra Pound (1885-1972) as its main spokesman who formulated the guidelines of that doctrine and poetic practice in a way very similar to Tranströmer’s creative method calling for utmost concentration in an instant of time. One of Pound’s thesis characterizes him in a particularly precise manner:”an image is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time”. And also:”Don’t be descriptive; remember that the painter can describe a landscape much better than you can”.

Whether Tranströmer has read this manifesto or not is something we do not know. However, as time went by, he expressed ever greater preference for condensed imagery conveyed with scarce words and uniting thought and feeling with deliberate absence of the author. This is the way to achieve the haiku effect recommended by Pound, where the purely artistic suggestion is overriden by meditative philosophical generalizations of reality. The three-line poems of that type dominate during the final phase of the Swedish poet’s works and testify to the stoicism with which he suffered and largely surmounted the consequences of the severe illness in 1990, when a stroke caused serious physical hardships to the poet but prompted him to experiment in new literary areas and directions. This can be seen in his haiku poems, thanks to which he continued his spiritual and social communication with the others through poetry: succinct, percussive and full of deep meanings, these three-line poems account for the main bulk of his works during the last decade and offer verbal pictures which synthesize observations and thoughts that are ostensibly capsulated in their perfect terseness. Thus his works seem to describe a circle: an open, rather than closed circle, where the links between his early and late works are preserved, brought together by mystery and surprise, by the discreet perfection of this dialectical miniatures7 condensed in a visually transmitted philosophy very near the effect of the classic Japanese woodblock prints, important elements of his poetry and which guarantee its long-term impact even when we read them over and over again. I have chosen to conclude my reflections on the chosen subject quoting just one of these poetic masterpieces illustrating in a most direct sense of the word Tomas Tranströmer’s credo:

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