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.


The world noises are dwindling.
Evening is underneath the trees.
The cottonpickers’ harvest song is coming from far away
and from the river the swish of cattle wading.
So guileless: like listening to Bruckner.
First just shake off love of logic.

From Fahrenheit 121 (1968)


No longer can I turn back to the forest,
the meadow, the intense snow
of the horse

that let the breeze ruffle its hair
that came out from a cranny of the Taiga
(into the enlightened forest of my darkened soul)
a gallop of copper, the carving of an infatuated sun,
done with flesh, straw and incorporeal gold,
Parsifal’s horse, so a Platonic Percival
(my obsession)

that has never eaten from my hand
sought only wind and grass, a grass chevalier,
saint of the wind (a flirt or ally)
a mythical being maybe, hardly a horse, or then a hero,
a monk that cast off his Scottish armour

and returned to the sea
as if he’d come from there in fact.


And then again in that filthy village,
in the filthy tavern.
I bring along a street and a commotion,
hill-silence and the cries of greengrocers,
a creak of waggons.

The anise is in flower. And the nut tree –
or what was it? – they call it the maidenhair.
Gingo? Ginkgo? I don’t know,
I know interior peace,
it’s somewhere, in wrapped-up alleys:

a shadow on my wall, blue eidetic voices.
Adios, the children say, passing by,
a Dios, the old people, who have already passed by.
Schluss! Polizeistunde! The greenjacket man
from the cement forest.

A dios. Where do the days go?
The dark winters, the bright summers sleep in the trees,
into the trees they go, the leaves go back to the earth,
and when shall I go back, tired of change, I?

The trees are bare.
is leading its mistponies down to the stream.

Dogs are barking far far away.
A tiny cart comes through a narrow gate,
alone, driverless, and disappears.

It’s the way a ghost drives, they say,
if your heart’s asleep beneath a holly.
But ghosts are mere memories.

The days are drawing in.
Soon it’ll be winter
like a well, deep and cold.

From Jos suru savuaisi (‘If grief should smoulder’, 1968; dedicated to Vaclav Havel)

Translated by Herbert Lomas

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