Tomas Tranströmer, “Open and Closed Spaces” [Poetry for Ordinary Time]

I’ve enjoyed posting poetry series themed around the Christian year in the past couple of years (see “Poetry for Lent” and “Poetry for Easter“). I will continue that with a series called “Poetry for Ordinary Time.” Ordinary time includes two sections of the church year between Christmastide and Lent and Easter and Advent. The word “ordinary” here derives from the word ordinal by which the weeks are counted. Still, ordinary time does serve an opportunity to embrace the ordinary spaces and places of our lives, and the themes of the poems will express this.

Here is Tomas Tranströmer’s poem “Open and Closed Spaces.” Tranströmer is a Swedish poet, who also worked as a psychologist, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2011. This poem is taken from New Collected Poems, translated by Robin Fulton (Bloodaxe Books, 1997/2011).


A man feels the world with his work like a glove.
He rests for a while at midday having laid aside the gloves on the shelf.
There they suddenly grow, spread
and black-out the whole house from inside.

The blacked-out house is away out among the winds of spring.
‘Amnesty,’ runs the whisper in the grass: ‘amnesty.’
A boy sprints with an invisible line slanting up in the sky
where his wild dream of the future flies like a kite bigger than the
suburb.

Further north you can see from a summit the blue endless carpet of
pine forest
where the cloud shadows
are standing still.
No, are flying.

6 thoughts on “Tomas Tranströmer, “Open and Closed Spaces” [Poetry for Ordinary Time]

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