Tarjei Vesaas, one of Scandinavia's greatest fiction writers, has been less well known as a poet. Now Roger Greenwald, an award-winning translator of Scandinavian poetry, presents forty-six poems drawn from Vesaas's six volumes of poetry. This selection is intended to reveal the distinctive sensibility and voice of Vesaas the poet. The Norwegian texts appear facing the English versions, which won the American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prize.
The translator's groundbreaking introduction explores why Vesaas's poetry has often resisted critical analysis and how it challenges received notions of modernism. Excerpts from Vesaas's writings about himself and his work supply helpful background and give some sense of the man behind the work. Vesaas emerges as a lyric and meditative poet of uncommon depth, who renders states of being beyond the reach not only of discourse, but of most poetry as well.
From "The Boat on Land":
Your still boat
hasn't got a name.
Your still boat
hasn't got a port.
Your secret boat on land.
From "Shadows on the Point"
We stand here in your deep night, Night,
and wait for something new from beyond the point.
The current runs black and silent.
And what we feel through it
we don't tell each other.
"Superb poetry . . . a poetry of place, specifically the farmland of southwestern Norway in which Vesaas lived. Its central concern is the seamless fabric of the life of a place and its people. . . ."--Booklist
"Greenwald has given the English-speaking world a sampling of the distinctive voice of a major 20th-century writer who has won many prizes. .. . The unornamented translations deliver a strong sense of the Norwegian."--Choice
"If everything in the living and dead world would sing to me, the language of their songs would contain the phrasings and turns and intersections of these poems."--Michael Burkard
"Through Naked Branches startled and thrilled me. Tarjei Vesaas is a brilliantly original and speculative poet; in Roger Greenwald's elegant translations, he has for the first time found an equivalency in English that makes his virtues obvious. 'There is an endless seeing by no one,' Vesaas maintains, and his poems probe that 'seeing' in lyrics quite unlike anything most readers of modern poetry are accustomed to. These poems deserve a high place in the pantheon of world poetry."--Jay Parini
"Poetry masterful in both its vision and its form."--Martin A. Hansen
File created: 2/2/2015