Author: Eeva-Liisa Manner

An evening with Mr Popotamus

Issue 1/2004 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

‘Hippopotamus’, a short story from Kävelymusiikkia pienille virtahevoille (‘Passacaglia for small hippopotami’, Tammi, 1958). Introduction by Tuula Hökkä

Someone came gasping up behind me at high speed, stopped, and thrust a bundle under my arm, whispering hoarsely and agitatedly: ‘Keep hold of this, hide it! They’re after me –’ And before I’d woken up to what was going on he’d disappeared round a corner.

I was holding a warm living creature, a hippopotamus. Presumably stolen from some zoo or some private person who loved hippopotami; perhaps the man was a sailor and had brought the animal from abroad.

However it was, the hippo needed a safe place. I decided to take it home; I’d had cats and dogs, hadn’t I? – and once a little marmot. I’d always longed for a giraffe. OK, a hippo was just as good. After all, I could put an ad in the paper later: ‘Found: a hippopotamus. Hippo returned on production of identification marks.’ More…

This journey

Issue 3/1995 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Tämä matka (‘This journey’, 1956). Introduction by Jukka Petäjä

You took a planet

For Erik Lindegren

The stars arranged themselves
round a red magnet
by request,
and shaped fugitive systems and mirror reflections,
space’s sonorous grammar.

Oh, those hatched-out faces of the apathetic! –
and the grudge of those who can no longer read
(apart from cruel bibles, containing pressed roses and corpses).

Oh, ourselves! – here in the lonely sublunar place, 
hair and eyes in the wind, in our hands
	                                                ignorance and boomerang-echoes.

Oh, these vaultings of the word! – changing skies
where the glyphs rise like distress flags.

I looked for a question
	                    whose answer is this mutabor.

I kneel
	   to gather up the shattered fragments of a glyph
scored with the brilliant wounded secret 
where I lost my wings
	               before my choosing fingers were formed.


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…

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…

If grief smoked

Issue 1/1989 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from six collections of poetry. Introduction by Herbert Lomas

The City

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.


The Othello of Sand Alley

Issue 1/1989 | Archives online, Drama, Fiction

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?

1st MAN

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…


Issue 4/1978 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Kuolleet vedet (‘Dead waters’). Introduction by Aarne Kinnunen


A faraway tucked-away room
Leathery harness odour
An obscure carriage house
A mighty delay

And out through a narrow gate slipped childhood
And a pony cart was coming to get us 
                     swishing on the sand

White gloves on the coachman
and ornamented with a whip, the lash sounding
We were driving through spotted leaves
Lustre, dolour, lustre,
remembrance, snow

And suddenly the driver was gone
and nothing but hands were gripping the horse
and they were leading me I don’t know where. More…