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A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,

the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.

What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.

A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.

—Tomas Tranströmer

from The Half-Finished Heaven, Swedish translation by Robert Bly, 2001
Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota

Copyright 2001 by Tomas Tranströmer.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press from The Half-Finished Heaven, 2001. Copyright 2001 by Tomas Tranströmer. For further permissions information, contact Graywolf Press, 2402 University Ave. Ste. 203, St Paul, MN 55114.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Tomas Tranströmer (1931-2015) is the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature and the author of 15 poetry collections, including The Deleted World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011).

Learn more about Tomas Tranströmerat The Poetry Foundation.