Views & Reviews Medical Classics


BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 12 December 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8411
  1. Ivan Iniesta, consultant neurologist, Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK
  1. iniesta.ivan{at}

In November 1990, the widely acclaimed Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer (born in Stockholm, 1931) lost his speech and the use of his right hand as a result of a stroke. As if anticipating his own fate, in his longest poem Baltics (Östersjöar), he had referred to the story of a Russian composer who became speechless and hemiplegic:

“Then, cerebral hemorrhage: paralysis on the right side with aphasia,

can grasp only short phrases, says the wrong words.

Beyond the reach of eulogy or execration

But the music’s left, he goes on composing in his own …

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