Archive for September, 1992

Burgundian rain

Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

from Burgundiska sviten (‘Burgundian suite’, Schildts, 1966). Introduction by Tuva Korsström

and if we could reach our Burgundian boundaries
you close to mine and I closer to yours than mine
and there see far beyond all boundaries
and there see jar beyond all shores
and there see far beyond all seas
and the ice blocks which this winter’s day
are brought heaving from below and the numbed cliffs
and ice-shattered shores vanish
and before us lies our open
quite open and naked sea More…

Against the grain

Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Authors

Carl-Gustaf Lilius is an artist, sculptor, painter, poet, essayist, political journalist and polemicist whose willingness to speak about subjects on which others prefer to remain silent – immigration, abuse of power, self-censorship, the mentally ill – has earned him the label of trouble-maker. He lives with his wife, the Finland-Swedish writer Irmelin Sandman-Lilius, in the small coastal town of Hangö. Tuva Korsström interviews

TK: You are an artist, a writer and a social commentator. You are the originator of thousands of pictures and sculptures, you write love poetry, you have written a novel on thought and essays on art, literature and music. You are the author of controversial articles and books in which you appear as the leading political dissident in Finland at a time of self-censorship. How do you maintain such versatility?

C-GL: I have always felt that the world is full of important things which interest me. They have alternated, depending on what is most topical to myself personally or what is happening in the world. I find newspaper articles just as demanding as a drawing or a sculpture. Poems appear in another way. My only complete collection of poems, Burgundiska sviten (‘Burgundian suite’), was written in a few weeks. More…

Reclaiming the body

Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Authors

The work of Agneta Enckell is a good example of what happened in young Finland-Swedish writing during the 1980s. The developments that took place then have much in common with what had happened earlier in the rest of Scandinavia: the strong social and political interests which a large number of the writers had explored since the mid 1960s changed character and were supplemented by a critical scrutiny of language itself, and by an examination of the possibilities and limitations of literature as a form of communication.

In Finland the writers of the 1960s, led by the poet Claes Andersson, called into question the inheritance of Edith Södergran and the modernists of the 1920s, who at that time seemed to represent a tradition that was burdensome and limiting rather than living and productive in an Eliotian sense. More…

Word for word

Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Falla (Eurydike) [‘Falling (Eurydice)’, Söderström & Co., 1991]. Introduction by Michel Ekman

a murderer who is running through the culverts of a hypermodern
high-rise complex asks desperately about possible ways out if he meets anyone,
he does not express himself symbolically,
in a locked room he writes poems no one understands, what he
writes is real –

you came to me at night
you asked me to do something,
I did it, for I am possessed, by you (fixed image!) in me, by 
myself	by your constant flight out of me, 	incomplete 	by my 
flight –

now you are changed: I love your fleetingness
your flight is in vain –

what’s done is done More…

Poems with rounded corners

Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Talvirunoja (‘Winter poems’, Art House, 1990) and Runot! Runot (‘Poems! Poems’, WSOY, 1992)

A prayer for the trees and the rocks

Around noon I start praying 
	 for the trees and the rocks
     to whom we have always been merciless.
What have we done? 
    What are we doing?

In the valley of the scribbling species

Man and Woman are two animal species, sufficiently close 
to allow procreation.
	They live in a cage called The Human Being,
in a place known as
		the Valley of the Scribbling Species. 
    Woman is the more important animal
But Man built the cage.


The dog

Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

From the collection of short stories Matka Grönlannin halki (‘A journey across Greenland’, Tammi, 1992)

The water in this town tasted of shit. Unto swallowed a couple of mouthfuls, gargled the rest and spat it into the wash-basin. The taste of garlic and old booze disappeared and only a flavour of metal remained on his palate. Unto glanced at the mirror and began to fumble for a comb. The bags under his eyes were flushed.

He pulled a clean shirt from his suitcase, and suddenly remembered how Mervi smelt in bed. There was a stirring in his groin, and unconsciously Unto sniffed at his shirt-sleeve as he buttoned his cuffs. In front of the mirror, he straightened the hem of his cardigan, combed his moustache and drew a deep breath. He felt like some meat soup. More…

Dialogues with death

Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Authors

Pekka Tarkka reassesses the work of Väinö Linna (1920–1992) and introduces an extract from Täällä Pohjantähden alla (‘Here beneath the North Star’, 1959–62)

Relations between Finland and Russia – and, analogically, the poor tenanted farm and the rich rectory – and their descent into violence are the subjects of Linna’s great novels: Tuntematon sotilas (The Unknown Soldier, 1954) describes ordinary soldiers in the Finno-Soviet war of 1941-44; Täällä Pohjantähden alla is at its most powerful in its depiction of the civil war fought in 1918 between Reds and Whites.

The slice of Finnish local history that Linna recounts reflects 50 years of world history,’ said the Swedish professor Victor Svanberg in 1963 as he presented Linna with the Nordic Council’s literary prize. But is Linna’s work tied to its time to the extent that it will die now that he is dead, and that the epoch, in which he played so strong a part, is passing? More…


Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract from Täällä Pohjantähden alla (‘Here beneath the North Star’), part one, chapter five. Introduction by Pekka Tarkka

Tähti, the rectory’s black carriage-horse, trotted from croft to croft, flashing his white spats. In the sledge, behind the driver, was the rector’s wife, wearing her husband’s heavy fur coat and sitting up very straight.

She began at Koskela. Jussi had finished his rent-work for the week, so she had to drive out to the croft. The little sleigh-bells tinkled so prettily that the boys overcame their shyness and came outside to marvel. These were quite unlike the simple, tinny ‘jingles’ that the old crofters had on their sledges: there was a whole row of bells attached to each half of the smart leather harness-saddle, and they sang out pleasantly and musically every time the highly-strung thoroughbred moved or even quivered. Vilppu could hardly claim to belong to the same species as this splendid creature. The boys had never before seen Tähti at such close quarters. He had wonderful blue-black eyes, and a soft pink muzzle. More…

Burnt orange

Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Drama, Fiction

Extracts from the play Poltettu oranssi (‘Burnt orange‘): ‘a ballad in three acts concerning the snares of the world and the blood’. Introduction by Tuula Hökkä

The scene is a small town in the decade before the First World War 


an imperial,bearded middle-aged gentleman
a moustached, ageing, slightly shabby leather-manufacturer
his wife, well-preserved, forceful, angular
their daughter, shapely, withdrawn, wary
open, direct, not too ‘common’


Scene two

After a short interval the receptionist opens the door and ushers Marina Klein into the surgery. Exit the receptionist. Marina immediately goes to the end of the room and presses herself against the white wall. The white surface makes her look very isolated in her ascetic black dress. The Doctor, who now appears to be headless – an impression produced by the lighting and the yellowish background – half-turns towards her. More…

Silence and the void

Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Authors

The tragic and the comic, the lyrical and the grotesque, blend seamlessly in the language and characters of Eeva-Liisa Manner‘s Poltettu oranssi (‘Burnt orange’, 1968), a ballad-like, uncompromising drama about the ineluctable destruction of a ‘mad girl’.

The girl’s emotions have been violated since childhood. She has been repeatedly raped, both figuratively and literally, and always in the name of love. Her mind develops its own secret language and logic, beheading people because ‘It is from the face that all bad words and hurtful expressions come.’ When, as part of a psychiatric test, she is shown a cavalcade of portraits of great men, the image of Nietzsche causes loathing to be replaced by a tender whisper: ‘Father. A stupid little dog.’ The exception of Nietzsche, an early interpreter of the modern World and the linguistic crisis of art, is apt. The experience of uncertainty and questioning of the meaning of language, on the one hand as a limitation of life and on the other as the enabler of a full existence, are in many ways central to Manners work. More…

World noises

Issue 3/1992 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Poems from Fahrenheit 121 (1968) and Jos suru savuaisi (‘If grief should smoulder’, 1968). Introduction by Tuula Hökkä

For truth to tell
I like horses most
creating Those
It came off best


Morning came to the meadow;
horses were born out of mist.
How quiet they were:
one leant a head on his master’s armour,
his breath rose warm,
his moist eye gleamed in the daybreak,
his coat a casbah carpet-weaver’s hand-woven pile,
his muzzle softer than a phallus. More…