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Martinson / Fulton

working-class writers, and he shared the 1974 Nobel Prize for Literature with novelist Eyvind Johnson. His poetry has many strands but the most characteristic, or the most admired, is that which combines close scrutiny of the small items and events of the natural world with an intense awareness of cosmic distances in both space and time. His Nobel citation refers to his ability to ‘catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos’. Unfortunately, sections of the Swedish press responded to his Nobel Prize (or rather the fact that the Academicians had rewarded two of their own) with such vehemence that he vowed never to publish again, and his last years were darkened by despair and depression as his view of the state of the world became gloomier.


We fished up the Atlantic cable betweeen Barbados and Tortuga, held up our lanterns and patched over the gash on its back, fifteen degrees north and sixty-one west. When we put our ears to the gnawed part we heard the murmuring of the cable. One of us said: ‘It’s the millionaires in Montreal and St John’s discussing the price of Cuban sugar and the lowering of our wages.’

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