Archive for September, 1979


Issue 3/1979 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Introduction by Thomas Warburton


What about going up into the birch tree together
so high till it bends with our weight
and we’re thrown, two seeds on one dandelion chute
down into the lake and its quaking looking glass
There we wash around together without
a stitch on our feelings
We let ourselves sink down to the lakefloor and set up
house there for a time
Among the fakirs the watercolourists and the alcoholics
we can hear the water sprite fluting, all out of tune
like a gipsy band gone down with the ship. More…

The Poet as a Progressive

Issue 3/1979 | Archives online, Authors

Claes Andresson

Claes Andersson. Photo: Johan Bargum.

Why do some poets adopt a chill tone or an intellectual stance, while others bleed in public, clench their fists or bellow with pain? Temperament alone cannot explain this. Poetical traditions, and the current climate, are more influential.

Modern Swedish poetry – in fact all Scandinavian poetry, including that of Finland – has inclined toward German and Continental Expressionism. This is, in essence, a romantic tradition, and there are other, more endogenous romantic traditions, as well, driving poets the same way. In such an ambience any pronouncedly intellectual poet will always seem exceptional. He will risk being accused of aloofness or disdain, be easily damned as a ‘difficult’ writer. Rabbe Enckell and Paavo Haavikko in Finland, Gunnar Ekelöf in Sweden, are cases in point.

Claes Andersson (born 1937) seems to belong to this category. He certainly tells his readers where he stands, unapologetically. But he is also a lover of his language – the Swedish spoken in Finland – and he likes to play intellectual games with the language, to coin a word or a phrase and turn it over, sometimes upside-down, to reflect and comment on the language itself: ‘Words,’ he once wrote, ‘possess hidden valences – shown, for instance, when the word Sodium jumps into the word Water to cool itself, never suspecting what will happen. Hidden tensions may thus be disclosed.’ More…