Poems

Issue 1/1979 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Lähdössä tänään (‘Leaving today’, 1977) Introduction by Jouko Tyyri

1

‘The wind’s speaking.’ If the wind were really speaking
could we endure its words
so void, flinty, so groping?
Inside them
they have
salt, horror,
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.
It’s gone.
There’s nothing here. Only a draught.
The air moving back and forth, soon to drop.

2

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

3

The pines, a crystalline cold,
truth.

Truth so much more jungly
than a young man knew.
No day-after-tomorrow mistletoe branch
to hit on, the trophy in a valorous quest,
but the forest and all the trees that are in it.
The whole tree
that, full to its needle ends of death,
life,
and is there still another name for it…?
Timelessness? Invariance? Quintessence. Rest.
The pines, a crystalline cold,
and what do I know about truth?
I feel coldness. I can see the pines.

4 (Late Summer)

Into sleep the ringing
of church bells.
I’m wakening to silence
to the lonely chirping of August’s bird.
From the open summer house door
the glow of a rose, the lick of a poppy flame
against the dispassionate green lawn.
Bluebacked
appletree branches
reporting a raw barbarian eagerness for life.
Yes, life’s here. This.
Yes, life’s elsewhere, other,
but today it’s here, sound and round
as, on a branch, on its own branch, concentratedly pondering its ripening,
a green apple.

5

The happiest moment of the day
in the morning, at noon and again with evening coming on:
the walk over the terrace.
Like love at second, third and again fourth sight.
The sea gives you an Etruscan blue look.
The tree near the door’s an almond, its branches leafing thick.
The flagstones are white, thinly flecked and veined
like a woman’s skin
who’s not absolutely young any more
and someone still loves.

6

Three circles this way, five crosses that.
The methodological problem of how to be human:
living demands (seems to be demanding) action that works. Efficacious conduct
demands (seems to be demanding) faith. Faith
seems to call for a straitening, alternatives
extruded. Sincerity, and compliance, love, joy
demands, seems to be demanding multiplicity of alternatives
given place side by side, thousands of flowers, hundreds
of intellectual tracks proliferating all ways in rollicking promiscuities.
A blossoming meadow blossoms, it's not much good
as a cornfield. But at the job of blossoming meadow
it in fact works extremely well: it floods out fragrance, calls in
the animals on cloven hooves and trotters, bees, poets
to their prosperous behaviour: to accumulate honey, transport pollen,
                       ruminate, versify. – Allow me
to go on with the comparison:
a person, too, you for instance, can be a blossoming meadow
or a flower in one. You yourself can choose which.
At any rate, I'm a bee.

7

Through the alder branches
between the grey air
to the silky water surface
that the rain keeps on fingering and touching

I’m looking into the daylight of my childhood

Translated by Herbert Lomas

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