After Someone's Death
By Tomas Transtromer
Translated by Robin Fulton
Once there was a shock
that left behind a long pale glimmering comet’s tail.
It contains us. It blurs TV images.
It deposits itself as cold drops on the aerials.
You can still shuffle along on skis in the winter sun
among groves where last year’s leaves still hang.
They are like pages torn from old telephone directories—
the names are eaten up by the cold.
It is still beautiful to feel your heart throbbing.
But often the shadow feels more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.
Tomas Transtromer (2031-2015), the Swedish poet, is acclaimed as one of the most important Scandinavian poets since the Second World War. He won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature.
How beautifully the poet in this poem has captured the death of someone dear to him with unusually striking imagery. The transient nature of life is vivid in comet's tail and the short line‘It contains us’.
Only a great universal poet can transmute a transition into an everlasting memory. An apt eulogy poem for a funeral toast.