|The Music Lesson by Jan Vermeer|
By Tomas Tranströmer
No protected world...Just behind the wall the noise begins,
with laughter and bickering, rows of teeth, tears, the din of bells
and the insane brother-in-law, the death-bringer we all must tremble for.
The big explosion and the tramp of rescue arriving late,
the boats preening themselves on the straits, the money creeping down
in the wrong man's pocket
demands stacked on demands
gaping red flowerheads sweating premonitions of war.
|Woman in Blue Reading a Letter by Jan Vermeer|
into the second that's allowed to live for centuries.
Pictures that call themselves The Music Lesson
or Woman in Blue Reading a Letter —
she's in her eighth month, two hearts kicking inside her.
On the wall behind is a wrinkled map of Terra Incognita.
Breathe calmly...An unknown blue material is nailed to the chairs.
The gold studs flew in with incredible speed
and stopped abruptly
as if they had never been other than stillness.
Ears sing, from depth or height.
It's the pressure from the other side of the wall.
It makes each fact float
and steadies the brush.
It hurts to go through walls, it makes you ill
but is necessary.
The world is one. But walls...
And the wall is part of yourself —
we know or we don't know but it's true for us all
except for small children. No walls for them.
The clear sky has leaned against the wall.
It's like a prayer to the emptiness.
And the emptiness turns its face to us and whispers,
"I am not empty. I am open."
"Vermeer" and many other Tranströmer poems can be found in the great enigma, new collected poems (c) 1987 Thomas Tranströmer, published by New Directions Books. Kudos to translator by Robin Fulton.