They would have torn us to pieces, those Bacchae.
Instead, they turned—bare-handed—
on our herd of grazing cattle.
A single woman pulled a mewling calf in two,
while others clawed apart a full-grown heifer.
There were spread ribs and broken hooves
and pieces of flesh hung
dripping from the trees.
The landscape of Tranströmer’s poetry has remained constant during his fifty-five-year career: the jagged coastland of his native Sweden, with its dark spruce and pine forests, sudden light and sudden storm, restless seas and endless winters, is mirrored by his direct, plain-speaking style and arresting, unforgettable images. Sometimes referred to as a “buzzard poet,” Tranströmer seems to hang over this landscape with a gimlet eye that sees the world with an almost mystical precision.