Archive for March, 1989
Poems from six collections of poetry. Introduction by Herbert Lomas
How the houses have ascended in this city,
the abysses deepened, the water blackened,
soon to be creeping along the streets.
The railings are rusting through,
the water table’s rising,
the cellars are slopping.
Fear is rising, or being covered up
behind strangling discretion,
outbreaks of crime.
Eeva-Liisa Manner’s Woyzeck is an independent ending to Georg Büchner’s fragmentary play. Introduction by Riitta Pohjola
(Dawn in the market square of Leipzig. A gallows looms, dimly visible in the distance. Brisk rumble of drums.)
What’s going on here?
They’re getting ready for an execution. Some villain’s going to be executed in public.
Franz Woyzeck. I guess you know him, the barber. More…
Gösta Ågren has published a couple of dozen volumes of poetry; Jär (the title is a dialect word meaning ‘here’) won the Finlandia Prize in 1989. Ågren’s earlier poems have been epic, tinged with Marxism, in the style of Whitman and Neruda. Gradually his has become more strongly linguistically concentrated, developed towards a more conventionally lyrical style questioning the problem of existence. He himself has expressed the matter in one of the paradoxical statements he particularly enjoys: ‘don’t worry / it will never work out.’ Introduction by Erkka Lehtola
Here she came, through the motion
less Sunday of old age.
In headscarf and long skirt
she came, a tall bird
of clothes. She wondered in
the sunlight on the shed-hill
what she should do
so she could die. I must
write about this. For it happens
everywhere, and there are no
questions to answer. But questioning
is already insight. Only
those questions that are never asked
need answers. I remember
that her hands were no longer
part of her. Idle
they lay in her lap. She saw
with her eyes only darkness
and light. It was silent. I
thought: the silence is creeping
through her body. Soon
it will reach her heart. Soon
I will be alone
Paavo Haavikko wrote this manuscript for the television series Rauta-aika (‘Age of iron’), broadcast in 1982. lt also appeared as a book in 1982, complemented by Kullervon tarina (‘Kullervo’s story’ ) which had been omitted from the original. The text follows the stories of the Kalevala, but they are given a new interpretation: the characters are demythologised, they resign themselves to their fates – they are like ourselves. These extracts are the final scenes in which incest, revenge and death appear in a slightly different guise from Kalevala, or Kivi’s Kullervo.
– Mother, on the road I met your daughter, who is my sister, and took her into my sleigh. She had broken one of her skis. Spring came in one day, the clouds in front of the moon tore themselves to shreds so that two moons passed in one night. Winter went, Spring came, I brought the sleigh back, and I slept on top of the sacks so that not a single grain or seed would be lost. It’s all in the sacks now, saved. The clouds tore off their clothes and washed them in the rivers of rain, and naked, in the dark, they waited for their clothes to dry, those clouds. They even darkened the moon, they would have killed it if they could have reached that far, as it spied on the cloud women who were washing the clothes they had taken off in the waters of heaven, and two moons passed in one night, Kullervo says to his mother, piling up lies like a little boy. Many words. More…
An extract from the tragedy Kullervo (1864). Introduction by David Barrett
The plot of the Kullervo story as told in the Kalevala: Untamo defeats his brother Kalervo’s army, and Kalervo’s son Kullervo is born a slave. Untamo sells him as a young child to llmarinen whose wife, the Daughter of Pohjola, makes the boy a shepherd and bakes him a loaf with a stone inside it. Kullervo takes his revenge by sending home a flock of wild animals, instead of cattle, who tear her to pieces. He flees, and discovers that his parents and two sisters are alive on the borders of Lapland. He finds them, but one of his sisters is lost. Life in the family home is unhappy: Kullervo fails in all the tasks his father sets him. On his way home one day he finds a girl in the forest whom he abducts in his sledge and seduces. It turns out the girl is his lost sister, who drowns herself when she learns that Kullervo is her brother. Kullervo sets out to revenge himself on Untamo; he kills and destroys. When he returns home, he finds the house empty and deserted, goes into the forest and falls on his sword.
ACT II, Scene 3
Kalervo’s cottage by Kalalampi Lake. It is night-time. Kimmo, seated by a fire of woodchips, is mending nets. More…