Lifesaving Poems: Tomas Tranströmer’s ‘Alone’

Anthony Wilson


It was a real treat to read Paul Batchelor’s concise and enthusiastic review of Tomas Tranströmer’sNew Collected Poems in last Saturday’s Guardian Review.

It reminded me of what I value about Tranströmer’s poetry: the very odd sensation of witnessing experience as though from an altogether new perspective.

The poem I have included in my Lifesaving Poems series is one I have written about elsewhere on this site, the famous poem ‘Alone’, about a car accident and its aftermath in the writer’s life.

I was drawn to this poem long before the opening line ‘One evening in February I came near to dying here’ took on a special resonance when I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on Valentine’s Day, 2006. On first reading it reminded me of the time that our family car similarly skidded sideways on ice in the Jura mountains after we had spent Christmas with…

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