The Forest of Childhood: Poems from Sweden


“In Swedish poetry from the seventeenth century on, nature has been a favorite subject. All these poets may be seen as born allies of the botanist Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778). Folke Isaksson’s Vinterresa (Winter Tour, 1951), which beautifully reflects the landscape of northern Sweden, contains a moving portrait of Linnaeus. harry Martinson is similar to the famous botanist in his ‘deeply original ingenuity, his sensitive and unconventional alertness and attentiveness with the shape and form of every living thing.’ Elisabeth Rynell has called her encounters with the vast forests and deer-herding Lapps ‘a kind of university.’ All these poets are in one way or another affected by the natural scene. Östen Sjöstrand finds in the dandelion a symbol of God’s creation that outweighs all man’s inventions. Even Lars Gustafsson, the most philosophical of the lot, addresses a moving ballad to the old paths in the province of Västmanland, where at the age of fourteen he had felt called upon to serve poetry with the language ‘which in some mysterious way was identical with the wordless authority of the scenery.'” –William Jay Smith, from his introduction

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