New from the archives
Poems from Kohtaamispaikka vuosi (‘Meetingplace the year’, 1977). Introduction by Mirjam Polkunen
I look in from the gateway there are children, there in the yard playing. They look small from here, remote. From the years I have walked past this gateway, there they are: five, six. The same number. They have a ball in the air, they yell at it. Silly that I still here too remember you, I could be the same age now.
A short story from Naisten vuonna (‘In women’s year’, 1975). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka
The two elks came out on to the road through a gap between timber sheds. They began to cross the road, and the larger one was very nearly run into by a car. Cars stopped and horns tooted, till the elks turned and made off towards the harbour. Several cars swung round and drove along the cinder track in pursuit of the animals.
The elks headed across the rubble towards the power station; after circling some stacks of railway sleepers, they ended up on the flank of a coalheap sixty feet high. The cars pulled up and their occupants poured out, shouting that the elks wouldn’t go that way, it was a dead end. The elder of the two elks had indeed sensed this, and they moved off to the right, skirting the coal-heap and emerging among the timber-stacks. By this time the first cyclists and pedestrians had arrived on the scene.
“They’ll break their legs,” said a pedestrian to a motorist. “There’s all kinds of junk lying about.” More…
Poems from Laulu tummana tulevi (‘The song comes darkly’, 1976). Introduction by Pentti Saaritsa
I have longed for you as the burning heath for rain, I have asked for you as fingers of moss for shade, I have yearned for you as the dusty mind for tears, and I have loved you as distant lightning the dark, I have been in you as flowering pine in the wind.
The blue will-o’-the-wisps dance,
strangers stitching happiness.
Silvery the spring mornings,
the trumpets bright in summer,
the autumns cranberry-red,
the white legend of winter. More…
Poems from Lähdössä tänään (‘Leaving today’, 1977) Introduction by Jouko Tyyri
‘The wind’s speaking.’ If the wind were really speaking
could we endure its words
so void, flinty, so groping?
mania: a long-drawn black speechless
roller that wipes the coast clean
of houses, woods, junk. It swashes
your eyes. If I’d had some
feeling. Or thought. If
I was something. If I was I.
There’s nothing here. Only a draught.
The air moving back and forth, soon to drop.
Orlando di Lasso's melodies airy, without a touch of soil a little dust on as much as might be on a butterfly's wing only just so much
Orlando himself, four hundred years
remoulded into loam, coalesced with dust
just like you, you, just like you More…
A short story from Alamaisen kyyneleet (‘Tears of an underdog’, Karisto 1970). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka
Dr Smith said that he did not believe that any immediate threat of an invasion from Space was likely to arise for some time. Observations to date had given no support to the view that any such preparations had been put in hand. Technically they were of course ahead of us, but in his opinion there was no cause for panic. Nor could he endorse the widespread but naive assumption that any confrontation with beings from Space must inevitably lead to war. If human beings had reason to feel threatened, it was from each other that the chief threat came. He urged the Conference to work for a situation in which every country would be preparing for peace rather than for war. He said he had no wish to sound sardonic, but that he had noticed that when war was prepared for, it was usually war that ensued. More…
Poems from Kallista on ja halvalla menee (‘It comes dear and it’s going cheap’,1975) and Reviirilaulu (‘Territorial song’, 1978). Introduction by Pentti Saaritsa
A seagull shadow flitters across the gulf of the courtyard
over the gone-sour yellow wall
ogreish and swift as an execution by hanging,
that’s how I’m dangling
from this moment in this city
my ankle in the strangling noose
in the night under the jangling stars while over the roofs
a sheetmetal moon’s rising
and blurred dreams are yawning in a thousand windows,
down below me the city
and in my breast my heart, it’s socking
like a knuckleduster.
The simplest noise, the noise of a glass when you put the glass down on a wooden table, the sound of wood on glass is like a flash of happiness on a melancholy face.
An Extract from the Novel Sirkus (‘Circus’). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka
Once again I seem to be moving towards a deeper understanding of these people who figure in my recollections, most of whom, by now – by this particular Friday I am now experiencing – are already dead. And this, in its turn, sets me wondering about the degree of reality, if any, that they can claim to possess. How real is a dead person? Is he, perhaps, totally unreal? In memories, of course, he is real to the extent that the memories themselves are real. But objectively, independently of memory? But here a sadness comes over me, many-headed, hard to take hold of.
And in any case I think it is time I came to a clearer understanding of the economic circus founded by my grandfather Feodisius. Uncle Ribodisius has also already made the front pages of the newspapers, and the Bilbao has published an interview.
But I have left a picture unfinished. Father’s cardboard boxes! The separation from Dianita – and from the children! And I have broken off in the middle of these curious memoirs of mine. Thinking of which, I find myself grinding to a halt again, stuck with Yellow-Handed Fred and Haius and Desmer, Lesmer and Sesmer – until I realize that instead of coming to a clearer understanding of my grandfather’s economic circus, I am on Lesmer’s estate, one evening in late May – a couple of months ago – listening to the trilling of an unusually talented song-thrush. Perched on the top of a tall spruce, he goes through the repertoire of all the other birds he has ever heard, both native and foreign – creating, however, new combinations of his own; not content with mere mimicry, he rattles, croons, wails, whistles, whirrs, twitters, flutes, sighs, chirrups and shouts his way through a complete set of variations on themes provided by the rest of the bird world: like some rather advanced medieval chronicler who, no longer content to record faithfully (if perhaps chaotically, as Auerbach points out) what he saw, heard, thought and smelt, had begun to create personal shapes and entities – thus preparing the way for the greatest miracle in the history of world literature, the advent of the perceptive reader. More…
An extract from Täällä Pohjantähden alla (‘Here beneath the North Star’), chapter 3, volume II. Introduction by Juhani Niemi
With banners held aloft, the procession of strikers moved towards the Manor. It was known that the strikebreakers had arrived early and that the district constable was with them. Just before reaching the field the marchers struck up a song, and they went on singing after they had halted at the edge of the field. The men at work in the field went on with their tasks, casting occasional furtive glances at the strikers. Nearest to the road stood the Baron and the constable. Uolevi Yllö’s head was bandaged: someone had attacked him with a bicycle chain as he left the field at dusk the evening before. Arvo Töyry was in the field too, the landowners having agreed that those who had got their own harrowing and sowing done should lend the others a hand. Not all the men in the field were known to the strikers. The son of the district doctor was there they noticed, and the sons of several of the village gentry, as well as the men from the smallholdings. More…
An excerpt from Rakas rouva K (‘Dear Mrs K.’, 1979). Introduction and interview by Auli Viikari
Lahtinen read through what he had written so far, and it pleased him, especially the quotation from Clausewitz. “It could be said,” he went on, “that the victories of the French Revolution during those two decades were due in most cases to the mistaken policies of its opponents, even though the actual coup that shook the world took place within the framework of war.” His article was about the British attitude to Germany’s expansionist policies. There would not be another Munich, he felt sure: the House of Commons had cheered Chamberlain for the last time. Where, he asked himself, would England eventually abandon the role of passive onlooker? At Danzig, surely. It would not be like Poland to give something for nothing. She would set a world war in motion, of that he had no doubt. And he could see Poland dissolving into ruin before his very eyes. More…
An excerpt from Laturi (‘The explosives expert’, 1979). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka
“It only took one good bash!” With tears in his eyes, chuckling and spluttering, Korppi, the sentimentalist, told the story of Linda’s love affair. Korppi hadn’t been an old codger then; like Chekov’s Versinin, he could have been dubbed the love-lorn major, although he was only a lieutenant for he had loved little Linda when he had been an officer guarding the refugees interned on Suursaari: interned not for their safety but for the protection of his country. “She loved getting parcels, oh yes, but she didn’t give a damn for me! And did I take what belonged to me?
Yes! No! I nibbled here and there but I never swallowed a whole bite … On the other hand, there were some who took a bite and swallowed it, one of them was called …”
“Selim!” shouted Enver.
Selim, that jelly. He was Korppi’s subordinate on guard duty, and had he known the other fellow had been flirting with Linda he would have killed her! But how could he have known? What took place under a clump of hills along a wooded lake shore… More…