Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Group 4: Chelsea W., Kelly V., Markus K., Olle F., Samantha C.

Please select comments and follow the Letter Guidelines for your posts to the exchange.


Markus K. said...

Dear folks on this and on the other side of the Atlantic ocean,

my name is Markus, a German exchange student right now living in Göteborg/Sweden. Originally I study Mechatronics at the Dresden University of Technology with specialization to Vehicle Mechatronics and Automotive Engineering.

Now this shall be my first contribution to the poetry exchange project.

My experience with poetry is somehow limited, I think even just limited to the works we read at
high school some years back, e.g. the classic German literature like Goethe, Schiller etc.

Since my Swedish is poor, I will focus on the English translations of Tranström's poems only. Moreover I chose to use the translations of Robert Bly as their choice of words is the most appealing to me (please don't ask why, I cannot really explain it).

Throughout all three poems, there is one central feeling that is evoked in me: Loneliness.
Sometimes pointed out (e.g. the “lonely suburban streets” in “I det fria”), sometimes it is created by associations like “Far off sparks of light from a town, flickering coldly on the horizon.“ as in “Spår“. But it always creates the feeling of being on your own, being in distance to any other being, never a meeting between two persons is mentioned for example.

Also, in every poem there is some connection to nature, in “Spår“ not as strong as in the other ones, but it is there. Seems that the author spends a lot of time there and especially has a passion for the quiet and calmness that is created by it. “Go in. Woods are silent abandoned houses this time of year. “ and “Who lies on his back under the high trees is also there. “. There is something soothing created with these lines.
In contrast especially “I det fria” renders a picture of the human-made environment with buildings from glass and concrete as emotionless and cold with words like “newborn districts without memories, cool as blueprints. “ And that nature is most likely unimpressed by what people around do.

To end my letter and create a possible topic for discussion, I would first like to ask if the poems awoke the same feelings with the other people reading it or if it is just my way of feeling. And if nature is really a central element in his poems, because to me it kind of seems like that but it could also be just a setup for the people to contemplate.

Well, happy writing and discussing

Markus K.

Olle Fredriksson said...

Hello everyone!

My name is Olle and I am studying computer science at Chalmers in Gothenburg. I am in my third year, currently working on the bachelor's thesis. My main interest is functional programming.

Most of my experience with poetry comes from earlier years in school (if you do not count well-written code as a kind of poetry).

Here are my reactions to the poems:

Setting "I Det Fria" aside for a moment, the other two poems ("Spår" and "Andrum") are characterized by inactive contemplation. It seems to me that the author really is in the situations that he is describing when he is writing. They are spontaneous reactions to something that he experiences there and then. The first lines in poems is what makes me feel this way. Example from Andrum: "The man lying on his back under the high trees / is up there too. [...]"

The quote above partly captures another key concept, which is the link between man and nature. Many of the comparisons in the poems compare objects in nature to human things. For example, the mushrooms in I Det Fria, which are described as looking like something left behind by missing persons. This creates a sense of closeness to the nature he is describing. Man are nature are merged into one.

I was intrigued by the following line in Andrum:
"will at last fall asleep inside a blue lamp"
How did you interpret this? Could it be that the boat is lit up, looking like a blue lamp compared to the surroundings, or something completely different?
Something interesting about the line, is the translation by Robert Bly ("will fall asleep at last inside the shade of his blue lamp"). The original does not say anything about it being his (or someone's) lamp - just "a" lamp. But as I have understood it, Bly and Tranströmer are good friends, so it is not impossible that he got some help with the translations.

It would be interesting to discuss what the author is trying to convey in I Det Fria. For example, in part 2, Tranströmer writes that a letter from America activated him. Later, he is referring to someone: "Where you are, evil and good have opposite faces.". Who is this referring to? Is it the sender of the letter, or perhaps the people surrounding him where he is now (assuming he is not in America)?
This line is also interesting to discuss translation wise. I would say that the Swedish sentence "Hos er har det onda och goda verkligen ansikten." means "Among you, the evil and good really have faces". There is nothing suggesting that the faces are opposite, which is from the translation of May Swenson. Robert Bly's translation ("Over there evil and good actually have faces.") is closer to the original in this case, but still does not capture the meaning fully in my opinion.

That's all for now. I'm looking forward to reading what you have to say!

Olle F.

Samantha C. said...

Hello from America!
My name is Samantha Chapman and I am a freshman English major currently taking this World Literature class at Clemson University.
I chose to compare the Breathing Space July translations between Robert Fulton and Robert Bly. Throughout all of the translations I have noticed a consistency with Bly’s work, and that he uses very clear language that doesn’t obscure the picture the original poet is trying to convey. This brings me to the key words and main distinctions I found between these two translations. Bly tends to use forceful words at the end of each stanza.
In the first one he writes ‘hurtles forward’ as compared to Fulton’s ‘releases’. Releases is a more peaceful and gentle word choice when relating to the action of a catapult or ejector seat than what the object would actually do, which is forcing you through the air. Bly’s wording is more interesting though because the chair is hurtling in slow motion, which is a complete paradox.
In the second stanza Bly translates that the light ‘drives straight in’, while in Fulton’s translation the light ‘beats right in’. Again, driving is a fluid and rapid motion, contrasting the motion of beating, which takes multiple repetitions and takes a longer period of time.
In the last line of the third stanza, Bly personifies islands as creatures that ‘crawl like huge moths’, where Fulton makes them ‘creep’. Although the word choice in this stanza might seem similar, crawling is a much faster and almost more terrifying action to think of than just creeping. In my mind the islands devour more of the globe like insects, which is a swifter and scarier image.
Each translator adds a different mood to each translation since the actions illustrated in them such as lying, standing, and sailing can be seen as lazier activities. I feel that Fulton compliments these lazy activities, while Bly takes a more forceful approach.
Additionally, I agree with you Markus! I definitely get that sense of loneliness and darkness to Transtromer’s poetry. I feel almost he adds a negative connotation to it, unlike Robert Frost or the transcendentalists who were known for romanticizing and in a sense praising nature for its beauty and gifts to man.

Chelsea W said...

Hi friends!

My name is Chelsea. I am a sophomore at Clemson University, and I am taking English 212: World Literature. I am an English – Writing and Publication Studies major and Non-Profit Leadership minor. I am hoping to either work for a non-profit organization or start my own non-profit after I graduate.

I have had some experience with analyzing poetry in a course that I took last semester. As I took dissected the poem “I Det Fria”, I tried to figure out what the author had illustrated through key phrases. As I perused the translations, the translation by Robert Bly appealed to me through his more direct imagery. I saw the first part to be addressing a very hollow natural place and the second part a more urban and cold environment, which before including the third part seemed like a “paved paradise” dichotomy. When I tried to see how the third part fit with that theme I was stumped, but then as I considered why “the plane comes in low” (1), I concluded that this was a military-related action. When I looked back at the publication date, my hypothesis was confirmed that this was an anti-war poem with regards to the Vietnam War.

In part one, the phrases that gave the impression of a warzone dealt with the abandoned feeling expressed. The word “labyrinth” immediately stood out and creates a very isolated feeling, almost inescapable. The next phrase that appealed to me and to the notion of war was the phrase “people who’ve disappeared.” I found this to mean either that they may have died or perhaps they quickly evacuated their homes to escape the invasion of troops.

In the second part, the phrase “They ruled from glass offices” struck me the most. I imagined those who command the military far removed from the horror of war able to still look out on the world with a positive view of its condition. Also, the final line aligns with the war undercurrent, where for a moment in the still of the night, the author does not feel the overwhelming violence that occurs around him.

In part three, as previously mentioned, “The plane comes in low” unveiled the setting of this poem in a time of war. The final imagery of the antiwar vibe in the poem came from the comparison of the cross the plane created to a cross that hangs in a church. Jesus was wan innocent man killed on the cross, just as the innocent man in the field is killed “on the cross” as the plane flies overhead, either shooting at him or probably dropping napalm.

Take care,

Chelsea W.

Kelly V., Clemson said...

Dear Group 4,
To start off, I would like to introduce myself: My name is Kelly V.; I am a sophomore at Clemson University majoring in English.
I decided to focus my response on the first poem “Spår” by Tomas Tranströmer and the English translations. I found the two different translations to give off very different sensations from one another. Overall, I was left with a feeling of emptiness and vacancy after reading Robert Bly’s translation “Track”. However in comparison to this, May Swenson’s translation, “Tracks”, although still having feelings of hollowness does not leave me feeling as helpless. To further explain what I mean, I decided to focus on the ending of the poems, in which each translator uniquely describes the state of the train. The differences in tones convey two different attitudes: one of more masculinity [Robert Bly] and one of far more femininity [May Swenson].
In order to further explain my findings, I would suggest you direct your attention to the end of the poems. Robert Bly’s description of the train as “entirely motionless” provokes a picture in my head of a train that has been abandoned. The word motionless holds a slightly negative meaning to me because I associate it with other words like ‘paralyzed’ and ‘frozen’, neither of which I find to be very positive words. After considering ‘motionless’ in relation to ‘paralyzed’ I envisioned the train to have lost the life it once had. A train is supposed to be filled with people or cargo and bustling on a job. However this train is in complete solidarity and isolation, with no passengers or existence at all.
As I said earlier May Swenson’s translation “Tracks” has a far more gentle tone and mood to it. Her description of the train standing “perfectly still” suggests an image of the train to be ideal and flawless. I feel as though this word is rather dainty and because of that gives off a feminine feeling. The phrase “perfectly still” constructs a quintessential and unsurpassable feeling of the state of the train. May Swenson’s translation paints the picture that the train is not alone, as in comparison to Robert Bly’s translation; but instead needs no saving because it is already unmarred and undamaged.
The short phrases represent the larger tones that are felt in each translation. Overall both translations evoke a feeling of loneliness. However after a close reading I think that the gender difference in the translators further conveys the differences in how lonely the tone and mood is. Because my focus seems to be falling on the affect gender has in tone and mood, I would like to suggest this topic for further discussion. Do you think gender helps establish/construct a difference in moods in these poems? In literature in general?

Samantha C. said...

Letter 2

Hello again everyone!

When I agreed with Markus, I don’t believe I clarified that I think Bly adds a negative connotation to nature, unlike Frost and the romantics. When I say that, its not that he disgusts nature, he just paints a darker picture with it, especially with the sense of loneliness that he evicts. Now going along with what Markus said about loneliness, I definitely feel a sense of fleeting desolation in Bly’s “Track”. Even the title itself versus Swenson’s is more solitary and isolated. There is a sense of hope that is fading, especially seen in his ‘flickering sparks’.
Now, to continue on your concern for the imagery of nature; I wouldn’t necessarily call nature a central element, perhaps more of a supporting one. Nature is depicted in practically every stanza of every poem, but it didn’t stand out as a prominent role to me, so much that it affected the emotions the poet is trying to get us to feel. Wherever nature is seen, it usually is relating to the sun, moon, or sky, except in “Breathing Space July”. To me, these daylights and moonlights clarify the character’s mood at the time. It is involved in their activities and adds a kind of fierceness or loneliness to that time of day. Also, when woods or fields are illustrated, it contributes to the element of emptiness and being solitary. I actually do see nature as a prominent role, but only in “Breathing Space July”. The trees, and water, and bays have an active role to them, it seems to me that they act as one with the man, and they comfort him in his laziness.
Commenting on what Kelly said, I do think that gender affects the mood of the translations of Spar. Females tend to want to connect emotionally to others, and not be completely alone with their thoughts. I don’t see that in all of literature though; the only author I can think of that comfortably demonstrates the same loneliness as Bly, or males in general, is Kate Chopin.

Olle F. said...

Letter 2

Hello again group!

In response to Samantha C., about the comments on the scariness of the islands creeping like moths imagery:

Scariness is something that I didn't feel was present in the Swedish version. For me, that line feels peaceful and harmonic. A possible explanation is that the English words that were chosen may have a more negative undertone than the Swedish equivalents do. I know that "creep" can be used as a derogatory term, while the Swedish counterpart is generally not used as one. Also, the English word "moth" has a rather negative vibe to me, while the Swedish word "nattfjäril" consists of two parts ("natt" and "fjäril") which, when translated word for word, yield "night butterfly" - which sounds beautiful and mystical... almost poetic! What do you think?

About Kelly V.'s thoughts on "Spår":

It is interesting how a (seemingly) small change in the choice of words changes the interpretation so much. My initial thought was that the poem depicts someone sitting on a (non-abandoned) train, that has temporarily stopped for one reason or another. There are a few things in the original version that lead me to believe that. For example, the line about the train standing still in the original reads "Tåget står fullkomligt stilla", which I would literally translate to "The train stands completely still". I got the feeling that the choice of words here implies that the current state of the train is something unusual - that it was in motion just a minute ago.

Robert Bly's choice of words makes it easier to see something else; the picture of an abandoned train, as Kelly V. discussed. And it also does not contradict the other versions of the poem! They can be seen in that way too, but it's easy to fall into other paths of association.

It's hard to say if gender is the deciding factor here, but I agree that May Swenson has chosen more gentle words than Robert Bly has. This is of course impossible to measure, but I would say that the original is somewhere in-between the two translations on the gentleness scale.

Have a good one!
Olle F.

Chelsea W said...

Well hello group-mates,

In response to Sam C.’s first letter, I too would like to address the idea of the “crawling islands.” I agree with Olle F. that the picture of islands creeping or crawling is not a terrifying image to me. I see it a quite peaceful, like a slow and calm boat ride, no driving purpose and slowly watching the world pass by. Personally, I pictured the many pontoon boat rides I have been on in my life. It is a luxurious and peaceful ride where the boat slowly traced the shoreline of the lake I grew up on and the houses passed in a crawling manner, due to the boats crawling pace.

In response to Olle F.’s first and second letter, I really appreciated your literal translation of the Swedish for us. The literal translation of “nattfjäril” as night butterfly to be extremely poetic and serene, which definitely added to my point of view of the serenity of the “crawling islands.” Furthermore, to address your question in regards to what the “blue lamp” was, I pictured the blue lamp to be possibly the dark and deep blue night sky. The dome shape of the sky mirrors that of a lampshade, and the moon (being the greatest source of light) sort of like the light bulb. I am not sure if that is anywhere near what was intended, but as I, too, debated the meaning of the “blue lamp” that was what I sort of imagined: the man falling asleep beneath the stars, at rest and peace.

With regards to Kelly V.’s first letter, I agree with her the further isolation of “motionless” versus “perfectly still.” Motionless to me also gives the impression of no longer working and an abandoned train. On the other hand, perfectly still comes across as a more temporary state. To me, it alludes to its state being unusual that it would ever come to a perfectly still position.

Have a great weekend!

Chelsea W.

Kelly V., Clemson said...

Dear Group 4,

Hello again!

Going of my last letter, I would like to continue with my interest over the gender differences in association with the tones and moods of the poems. In order to do this I would like to begin by considering Markus’ response. Your letter caught my attention immediately after you responded that you preferred Robert Bly’s choice of words. Perhaps it is worth it to consider that you enjoyed Bly’s choice of words because there is a common interest with males? As I originally considered: the Bly translation, (being written by a man) while still conveying a lonely feeling like May Swenson’s translation, definitely had a far more desolate mood. I would agree with you, Markus, in the fact that Bly’s translation created a feeling of being distant and isolated from others. I think this topic is really interesting and worth a further reading to really make a comparison in female to male gendered writing.

In response to Chelsea W.’s letter, I think it’s very interesting that you found the third part of “I Det Fria” to relate to war. This was not my first reaction to this poem, but after reading your imagery and rereading the poem I completely understand this picture. Now when reading the poem it reads exactly like a war scene. I would not have noticed the imagery of the “crossing” of the plain flying overhead until you noticed the comparison with the church and war. I find the comparison of the church cross and the war cross to be absolutely beautiful. While this comparison is something that I would never be able to come up with on my own, I now think that the subject is probably something that is a very common thought during war-time.

Enjoy reading!

Markus K. said...

Letter 2

Well, hello again folks!

Sorry for being a bit late, but I could not make it back in time to Göteborg to post my reply.
I came to notice that great stuff has been written so far! Really liked some of the interpretations I read and I will try to contribute to some of them.

First of all, Samantha and Kelly seemed to have managed to maybe explain me why I like Bly's translations best. Yes, he seems just the best of the available translations in terms of creating a mood of desolation, of loneliness, of emptiness. He uses a very sober language, with seemingly no or very few emotion in the words. The emotion is created inside our heads by association. And the very precise choice of words definitely adds to it, even if it is not noticeable at first read.

But I do not really think that this all is a gender issue, I think bose male and female writers can produce all kind of emotion in their words, just depending on the current mood and personal situation they are in.

Just some words to the interpretation of “Spår“. I do not get the feeling that the train is out of function or abandoned. It more seems like one of those ordinary stops when one does not know why the train stops in the middle of nowhere.

Especially „Far off sparks of light from a town, flickering coldly on the horizon.“ was familiar to me. I was traveling a lot the last weeks and spent quite some time on night trains. Maybe you know this feeling when you wake up in the middle of the night on the train, it has stopped for no obvious reason and out from the windows you see a distant village or small town lying totally quiet and empty, just the street lights signalize that there is some civilization. This always creates some melancholic feeling in me, wondering how life might be at this places which you normally pass with barely catching a glimpse.

Next I want to say that I find the interpretation of “I Det Fria” by Chelsea highly intriguing. I tried to figure out what the function of the „glass offices“ and „the plane coming in low“ was. I thought maybe that it should act as a kind of contrast of the technical, human-made world to nature. But the concept of putting it against the Vietnam war, especially with taking into account the time it was written sounds really convincing to me. Nicely investigated!

Well, so far from me, thanks for the great contributions, looking forward to the third round!


Markus K. said...

Letter 3

And yet again, hello there people of Group 4!

This will now be the last compulsory letter for the poetry exchange of 2010. As I already mentioned in my second letter, I really enjoyed reading some of the contributions posted as it is always interesting to get a whole different idea from somebody else about something you read also by yourself.

For me the „cross-cultural effect“ of the exchange was not the fact that people from two different regions of the world were working on it but the fact that the groups consisted of people either with a solid and scientific literature background or coming from a completely different, way less literature-related field. I think the real contrast is visible there and not in the nationality of the person.

It was pretty interesting how when I pointed out that I like the translations of Bly best but could not really explain why it was possible for others to find exactly this out.
And I was reminded to some basics of poetry analysis like taking the time when something was written into consideration (the Vietnam thing).

It is not really possible to adress again some things from the second letter of you others since I was already late with my second and „had“ to reply to most of them (or at least what I find intriguing to me) anyway. Sorry!

In the end, there was the job of choosing some piece of art the represent feelings or the mood that some of the poems created.

I chose the track „Ajde Jano“ by the Polish Klezmer band „Kroke“ (Hebrew name for the city of Krakow). It is an old Balkan dance piece interpreted by them.

You can find it on YouTube here: (Or click on my name above this post).

Why did I choose this one?
I was traveling several times last year in Poland, mostly by railway. And this song is kind of the perfect rendering of the mood during this traveling. Wide view from the windows of the train, small villages flying by from time to time, the touch of the sometimes „mysterious“ eastern-european culture. And endless miles of railway left to your destination, with you floating by as an anonymous observer of all the unknown life taking place outside the window.

As I already wrote in my second letter, I could really well understand this feeling of stopping on the train in the middle of nowhere as in the poem “Spår“, this feeling of being somewhere completely unknown with no sense of orientation or feeling for the place.

This song just depicts my feeling of traveling at that times, as it also depicts the impression “Spår“ gave me.

Maybe somebody can follow what I want to say with this ;)

Ok, that is all so far from me, thanks for the great works and maybe there will be some comments on the third letters aswell.


Markus K.

Chelsea W said...

Happy Final Day of the Masters friends!

I personally love this Sunday every year because my mom’s whole family gets together to celebrate Easter (although I cannot be there this year because of school). It also is just the epitome of spring to me. I generally do not like watching golf, but I love the final day of the Masters; it’s so relaxing! So I hope you all enjoyed a nice spring day, watching or not watching the Masters.

I responded close to the end of the last set of letters and having reread all of them, I feel as though we did not leave many questions unaddressed.

I really liked the way Markus described the project, where the differences are not based out of nationality but in the literature background. Personally, I am a language nerd, not necessarily English, but the idea that language enables communication and the value a word carries. As I said, I’m a language nerd. Therefore, during this project I really enjoyed the language enables people from across the world to not only communicate but also to discuss poetry. In this discussion, I appreciated the different way certain words affected the tone of the poem to different people, such as the different translations that Olle discussed in response to Samantha, which revealed a completely new image of "night butterfly" rather than "moth." I further enjoyed how, without being able to pinpoint the reason why, certain diction can cause a presentation of a poem that is more palatable than another, even when the meanings of the two should essentially be the same. Many of us noted in either our first or second letter that we preferred the Bly translations, and Kelly noted on the preference of language between males and females in both of her letters. All of these little intricacies of language in this project really stood out to me.

The image I chose is a picture that I took this past fall in my hometown in Michigan. I chose it to couple the poem “Track.” As Kelly had noted in her first letter and I affirmed in my second letter, the description of the train as “entirely motionless” provokes an abandoned feeling. The image I chose is of a single train car that has made its final resting place in the grass along the tracks. It once had purpose and value but time has taken its toll and left it rusted and useless. I also felt like this picture reflected the tone of the third stanza, because the rust and old age are like a sickness in a person that cause a person’s days past to be what brings joy (or “sparks”) but the present and future days are those of cold feebleness just passing by. The trains desolate appearance reflected the isolated and desolate tone I found in “Track,” which made the decision of an image to pick easier than I originally presumed it would be.

Thank you all for your great insight into these poems. It has been great to work with you!

Chelsea W.

Samantha C. said...

Hello all!

I am saddened at the thought that this is the last time I get to talk with my German and Swedish counterparts.

It amazes me how language is almost versatile in its translations across different continents. Although we are all on one planet, the meanings really can effect how you view your outlook for something as simple as the beauty of nature. I say this in reaction to Olle’s dissection of the Swedish word for moth, creating the mystical image of a ‘night butterfly’. I consider myself a naturalist and romantic, and I actually view moths as something beautiful now! I enjoy and respect how Olle’s and Chelsea’s responses have made the translations seem more peaceful and serene, as compared to the daunting images I built up in my mind, making ‘creep’ seem derogatory. I am honestly surprised at how intricately we interpreted and analyzed these poems. After going over them in class, I didn’t think there was that much more to say about them. Having transatlantic communication to give us a more accurate picture of what the poet was possibly trying to say was so cool since we were actually able to get that close to the meaning, unlike with some translations of writings of the past. For example when we read Beowulf in class, we listed everything that can go wrong in a translation, especially how the translator’s emotions can become entangled in the process.

I also would like to agree with Chelsea and Markus on the cross-cultural effect of this project; of how nationality was not the source of difference but instead the fields we have chosen to undergo for our future, but I would like to comment that I think we benefited in the difference in nationalities as well. I am mainly referring to the images and music. I have never taken those train rides across Europe, or train rides anywhere, but that is exactly the image I had in my mind while reading this and have been longing to actually experience that.

The image I chose was taken of me on a beach at Hunting Island in Beaufort, South Carolina. Beaufort is very similar to Charleston, SC but is a lot more relaxed and easy going. I chose this photo in response to Bly’s “Breathing Space July”. This was a very lazy day on the water for my boyfriend and I, which we spent mostly lounging on his dock near this island. I felt a tension of being stressed in my head although my body was relaxed the entire day, just gazing at the water and large canopies of trees that surrounded us. As I commented on earlier, in each stanza of Bly’s translation there are lazy actions, but I felt a tone of urgency in his language with his use of ‘hurtles’ and ‘drives’, which I felt that day at the beach since it was only during the weekend and I had to leave to return to the rush of school the next day.

Goodbye you guys! This was awesome!


Anonymous said...

Letter 3

Hi again!

In response to how Chelsea described the passage about the moths I think you put into words exactly what I felt. Also, the blue lamp being the sky is something that I missed, but feel may have been obvious you. Maybe I tried to interpret it too literally.

About the gender differences brought up by Kelly, I think it is a plausible theory that may apply at least to some writers. I imagine that the way you live and how you were formed by life would reflect in your writing. Furthermore, most (if not all) cultures traditionally treat girls and boys differently (I'd love to have a discussion about this, but it is probably a little off-topic), meaning that girls and boys will be formed by life differently. These two points combined may very well lead to gender differences in writing. But I would not draw the conclusion so hastily, especially not on this small scale, as it may depend on other factors as Markus mentioned. It would be interesting to do a more rigorous study on the issue, to see if there are tendencies in for example word choices that can be related to gender.

This discussion has been something of a journey for me. It is so easy to fall into a single track in your interpretations, and when you are by yourself it is hard to trick your mind into viewing something from another angle. But with the help of people with different backgrounds, experiences and nationalities, that has been made possible. I was surprised to learn that subtle differences in the choice of words can make large differences to the reader: the (night) butterfly effect. Putting a poem in the right context, as Chelsea did with "I Det Fria", was also a helpful tool for gaining a better understanding of what the author was trying to convey when writing the poem.

When reading the poems I thought of the Swedish folk singer Allan Edwall (who was also a great actor and multi-talent). His songs often deal with Swedish nature, but also (miserable) stories about life, love and alcoholism and the effects of our profit-driven society on the poor. His songs evoke the same feelings in me as these poems did. A kind of melancholic view of the world and nature.

There are a few songs on Youtube, for example "Den lilla bäcken" ("The little stream") which is about life and aging; The stream joining a bigger river running towards the sea is used as a metaphor for it:

The song that strikes me as resembling the poems the most is called "När små fåglar dör" ("When small birds die"), which can be heard here: (also on Spotify: ). This song is a story about a place where a new factory is opened and the effects of it on the workers and environment.

I especially like the instrumental intro, where it starts off quite happily. It sounds idyllic, like the nature in the poems. But then, just before the singing starts, something happens. It sounds like something is threatening the previously idyllic world. This fits well with the theme in "I Det Fria".

I realize now that I have already written too much so for those of you who have managed to read this far I would just like to say that it has been great to discuss with you and to read your thoughts and insights about these poems.

Thank you all!


kelly V., Clemson said...

Letter 3

Dear Group 4,

This is the last of my letters in the project. I have to start off by letting you all know how wonderful this project has been. I find it intriguing that despite the fact that we are all from different cultures, no matter what school we all attend, we are able to come together and compile ideas. Even more so, I think it’s great that we can compare our ideas and help one another make sense of our thoughts and interpretations of the poems. I think Markus K. said it perfectly when he pointed out that even though he was unable to form his ideas, the rest of our responses helped him to make sense of it all.

My favorite part of this project is how different our interpretations could be. As Chelsea W. said: language “enables communication” but it also reveals to us how words carry such different values. Where one of us read moth, as Sam C. described, Olle read about a ‘night butterfly’. Another example comes from Olle again, as she points out that she interprets the Swedish writing of I Det Fria as “Among you, the evil and good really have faces”. Instead, in Mary Swenson’s translation, she interprets this line as “Where you are, evil and good have opposite faces”. I think this gives off a very eerie emotional comparison, in that I mean how different interpretations change from “among you” to “where you are”. Personally, I feel that “among you” sends chills down my spine, wondering who and what exactly is around me. How do you feel about your interpretation Olle? What tone do you get from the Swedish writing of the poem? May Swenson’s translation of “where you are” is much more comforting to me. I wonder if this has to do with culture? Perhaps it’s a level of personal space that differs between cultures.

In general, I found the different, yet sometimes common interpretations between cultures to be very interesting. Lastly, we are expected to provide a photo that .reminds us of the project. I chose to use a personal photo that was taken of me during a trip to Costa Rica. I felt the same way when in Costa Rica about the differences and commonalities between cultures as I do from this project. Even though we are all from different cultures, we find things that interest us all. This picture relates to the overall project in the sense that it is a photo of different cultures coming together.

It has been great reading and learning with all of you! Enjoy!

Kelly Vincent