Harri Nordell breaks up grammar, invents words and leaves sentences unfinished. His poems are like minimalist, language-shattering sculptures of words. In her introduction Tarja Roinila compares Nordell’s poems to windows on to another world
Poems from Sanaliekki äänettömyydessä. Valitut runot 1980–2006 (‘Word-flame in silence. Selected poems 1980–2006’, WSOY, 2011)
You are beautiful
light-cupola-ecstasy of the eye
I look at you
daughter, bringer of the Word
involvement has been inscribed
with the name’s black reed
Girl, salt-grain of light
the mighty river of blood rinses memory,
otherness has come through us
If there were willow-weaving light, likeness if there were You would be a cloud in my lap, if the day of de-parting were not
You’ll be bare soon, weeping’s clothes will be given you
You’ll be clean soon, hoarfrost’s woman will be yours
Then nuptials ice-music then forest’s coniferous convoy empty, black root-bed
A person is left his silent Autumnlight-eyed speechless spouse
The century with its light handwriting bids you farewell
April’s wagon drove into the yard.
I was born, a human head on my shoulders, the loon’s cry in my mouth, wearing the bloody coat of the apostate. The driver has my memory. The womb’s wild dusk in his eyes.
From Huuto ja syntyvä puu (‘Scream and a tree being born’, WSOY, 1994)
The summer night is muddy-yellow
A stone in shallow water
You sleep in broken bird-shell-clothes
Word-flame in silence
Here, on the other side of you where the silk-grebe presses its head into dazzling, there are always two in silence.
That I didn’t have a name to call you. Light’s impala, wake her softly.
The days are short, windy series. Drift into their chronologies. In the bay, a genus-less bird slurs the name of an ancient lake. Anc anc, anc
I am written into the register of the dead.
You extended the vessel in which was root and the copper line of the horizon. You had the head of birds. You were dead. There was nothing else. Dry boulder field, mound of sleep-rocks from which a lake had risen. A lake whose name is the mussel’s name.
An old man walked the ash heath. I didn’t make it. He was far away. Almost on the edge.
And the black spruce copse grows into the eyes
And the dust-shoe dances, star-clasp
And the hare drives the carriage of metempsychosis
There’s a stone in the carriage, moon and metacarpal
and sleep and copper and water
From Valkoinen kirja (‘White book’, 2006)
Translated by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah
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