Anna Greta Wide was a lyricist whose finely-tuned and perfectly crafted poems have become extremely popular.
Anna Greta Wide was born in Gothenburg. Her parents were the teacher Otto Wide and his wife Annie Kjellmer. Anna Greta Wide attended Gothenburg’s girls’ school and in 1940 she graduated from the Latin programme with the highest merits. In 1951 she gained her Master of Arts from Gothenburg College. She subsequently worked as an assistant teacher in Swedish, first at Gothenburg practical lower secondary school and later at Kungsbacka coeducational lower secondary school. In 1963 she discovered that she had cancer and she died two years later.
Anna Greta Wide began writing lyrical poetry at an early age and while at high school she won a national prize for her poem about Aphrodite. She made her poetry debut in 1942 with the perfectly crafted collection of poems called Nattmusik. The language used is high-register, pure and clear and the poems revolve around deep questions regarding the origins of humankind and the goal and meaning of life. Her subsequent poetry collection, Orgelpunkt, 1944, follows a similar vein. Nothing more was heard from Anna Greta Wide for more than a decade, but when she re-emerged with Dikter i juli in 1955 it became her major breakthrough. The poems in this collection are freer and sharper in tone than her previous work and use modern language. There is no rhyme, and the language is fragmented and concise. Anna Greta Wide’s Christian faith, although evident in her earlier work, is more prominent in this collection which almost takes the form of a requiem with its words aimed at survivors and those who have been abandoned.
Although Anna Greta Wide’s poems portray universal feelings and the particular landscape of Bohuslän with its winds, murmuring waves and sea in an unusually tangible manner, her poems are generally lyrical. She recounts her own anguish. This becomes more apparent in the ensuing collections, Broar, 1956, and Kyrie, 1960, and notably so in her final collection, Den saliga osäkerheten, 1964, which was composed during the later stages of her illness.
Several aspects of Anna Greta Wide’s writing style were not in line with her time. She wrote in rhyme and in a traditional style just as modernism was breaking through and she expressed a genuine belief in God during the decades when secularization was rapidly taking hold in Sweden. Despite all this, or perhaps just because of it, she was much-loved. Lines such as “The blessed uncertainty / the uncertain blessings / The damned certainty / The certain damnation” from her last poetry collection belong to those most frequently cited. She was also posthumously recognized within the sphere of literary history.
Several of Anna Greta Wide’s poems have been set to music by famous musicians such as Torsten Sörenson, Lillebror Söderlund and Stefan Forssén. Two of her poems are included in Den svenska psalmboken, number 428 and 454.
Anna Greta Wide died in Gothenburg and is buried at Kviberg’s cemetery in Gothenburg.