Archive for June, 1986

Human Freedom

Issue 2/1986 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Mika Waltari. Photo: SKS Archives

Mika Waltari. Photo: SKS Archives

Extract from lhmisen vapaus (‘Human Freedom’, 1950)

‘Where are we?’ Yvonne asked. ‘This isn’t the right street either. Somewhere between Alma and Georges V, they said. But there’s no sign of an aquarium.’

‘Talking of aquariums’, I suggested, ‘there’s a dog shop near here where they wash dogs in the back room. If you like, I’ll take you to see how they wash a dog. It’s a very soothing experience.’

‘You’re crazy’, said Yvonne.

My feelings were hurt. ‘I may sleep badly’, I admitted, ‘but I love you. I walk up and down the embankments all night. My heart aches, my brain is on fire. Then comes blissful intoxication, and for a little while I can be happy. And all you can do is to keep nagging, Gertrude.’

She wrinkled her brow, but I went on impatiently, ‘Look, Rose dear, just at present I have the whole world throbbing in my temples and in my finger-tips. Age-old poems are bubbling up within me. I am grieving for lost youth. I am boggling at the future. For just this one moment it is given to me to see life with the living eyes of a real human being. Why won’t you let me be happy?’

‘I have walked two hundred kilometres’, said a low, timid voice at my elbow. I stopped. Yvonne had stuck her arm through mine. She, too, stopped. We both looked down and saw a little man. He doffed a ragged cap and bowed. Flushed scars glowed through a grey stubble of beard. He was wearing a much-patched battle-dress from which the badges had long since disappeared. His face was wrinkled, but the little eyes were animated and sorrowful. More…

Landscapes of the mind

Issue 2/1986 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Tuomas Anhava. Photo: Otava

Tuomas Anhava. Photo: Otava

In his book Suomalaisia nykykirjailijoita (‘Contemporary Finnish writers’), Pekka Tarkka describes Tuomas Anhava’s development as a poet as follows: In his first work, Anhava appears as an elegist of death and loneliness; and this classical temperament remains characteristic in his later work. Anhava is a poet of the seasons and the hours of the day, of the ages of man; and his scope is widened by the influence of Japanese and Chinese poetry. As well as his miniature, crystal­clear, imagist nature poems, Anhava writes, in his Runoja 1961 (‘Poems 1961’), brilliant didactic poems stressing the power of perception and rebuffing conceptual explanation. The mood in Kuudes kirja (‘The sixth book’, 1966) is of confessionary resignation and intimate subjectivity.

Anhava’s literary inclinations reflect his most important translations, which include William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1959), selections of Japanese tanka poetry (1960, 1970, 1975), Saint John Perse’s Anabasis (1960), a selection from the works of Ezra Pound, published under the title Personae, and selections from the work of the Finland-­Swedish poets Gunnar Björling and Bo Carpelan.


Song of the black

My days must be black,
to make what I write stand out
on the bleached sheets of life,
my rage must be the colour of death, to make my black love stand out,
my nights must be summer white and snow white,
to make my black grief burn far,
since you're grieving and I love you 
for your undying grief.
Let the sun's rolled gold gild dunghills,
let the moon's blue milk leak out till it's empty,
              we're not short of those.
The obscure black darkness of the cosmic night 
glitters on us enough.
From Runoja (1955)


The Cheap Contractor

Issue 2/1986 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

From Kauan kukkineet omenapuut (‘Long-blossoming apple trees’, 1982). Introduction by Arto Seppälä 

The men who delivered the hot-water cylinder offered to do the installation as well. I asked how much it would be. They lolled about a bit, exchanged a few private looks, pretended to be thinking. Then one of them fired off a sum. It was three times the quotation I’d already had. They didn’t even look at the location. I told myself I wouldn’t even go to the end of the road with big-dealers like these.

The same evening I rang up ‘a little man’ and told him he could get started as soon as it suited him.

The cheap contractor turned up a couple of days later, driving an elderly van into the yard. I went out. He’d sat himself down in a garden chair near the white lilacs. The morning sun only partially reached there; so half his body was in shade, looking colder than the sunny half. More…

On Martti Joenpolvi

Issue 2/1986 | Archives online, Authors

Martti Joenpolvi. Photo: SKS archives

Martti Joenpolvi. Photo: SKS archives

Martti Joenpolvi made his literary debut in 1959 at the age of 23, a young man who had been evacuated twice during the course of the Second World War and had eventually settled in an industrial town in the Häme region of southern Finland.

His first novel, Kevään kuusi päivää (‘Six days in spring’), was in the best tradition of the so-called working-class novel. The book described a young worker’s inner struggles and his quest for life from much the same standpoint as the classic novels of Väinö Linna, Lauri Viita and Toivo Pekkanen.

About ten years later Martti Joenpolvi began to write short stories, which were to prove an important complement to his as a novelist. At the same time he his narrative technique: his use of language become clearer and more.polished, and his unaffected style gained power through the use of symbolism and a dryish wit. At the same time his characters began to move in more middle-class surroundings; these people now had a position in society from which to view the world. More…