Archive for September, 1977


Issue 3/1977 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from I de mörka rummen, i de ljusa (‘In the dark rooms, in the bright ones’, 1976). Introduction by Kai Laitinen


He covers his grey floor with glowing carpets.
He has bought them cheap. No one sees they are fakes
except The Great Specialist – but he never comes.

He covers the windows with curtains like waves of silk
and wraps himself up in his food with a blind look of hunger.
Those who follow him – the wife, the children – have to run.

He goes quickly through the dark as though it were hounding him.
He is right: it is hounding him, it catches up with him
when he wakes defenceless in the night. He is abandoned:

all the time there is a noise in the rooms, a burglary,
he is afraid and does not move but in the dark holds
his hand to his eyes, it is cold and strange.

Each day he goes to his life and comes from it.
He is like a wagon. A wagon has its uses.
It trundles heavily past sidestreets and down to the harbour.

He stops: it is light over the sea, a light
hidden by clouds. As though he had seen it once, before.
What he sees is nothing, stretching far away.

There are waves, but they are all standing still. More…

On Bo Carpelan

Issue 3/1977 | Archives online, Authors

Bo Carpelan. Photo: Ulla Montan

For a small country Finland is richly endowed with poets. Of particular interest, in view of the smallness of the Finland-Swedish population (about 7% of the total), is the number of poets who speak and write Swedish as their first language and consistently produce work of outstanding quality. International recognition of the work of one of these poets came earlier this year with the award of the Nordic Council Literary Prize to Bo Carpelan.

Carpelan’s first volume of verse, Som en dunkel värme (‘Like a dark warmth’) appeared in 1946. Since then he has brought out a further ten volumes of poetry and six prose works (all published by Schildt, Helsinki). It would be difficult, and probably premature, to attempt any detailed analysis of the fusion of influences and inspiration that have come together in Carpelan’s poetry. It is clear, however, that his early work has points of contact with the Finland-Swedish modernism of the 1920s and that he followed with particular interest the 40-talists, a group of Swedish poets active in the 1940s: the influence of their heavy, profuse imagery can be discerned in his early collections.

Critics identify two main periods in Carpelan’s poetry. The first of these is represented by his first volume and by Du mörka överlevande (‘You dark survivor’, 1947), Variationer (‘Variations’, 1950), Minus sju (‘Minus seven’, 1952) and Objekt för ord (‘Objects for words’, 1956). The second period begins with the collection Landskapets förvandlingar (‘The changing landscape’, 1957) and was followed by Den svala dagen (‘The cool day’, 1961), 73 dikter (’73 poems’, 1966), Gården (The courtyard’, 1969), Källan (‘The spring’, 1973) and most recently by I de mörka rummen, i de ljusa (‘In the dark rooms, in the bright ones’, 1976). In all his poetry Carpelan sees life as a mystery, but his approach to this mystery changes and develops. In his earlier works his language is deft, yet at the same time private and intimate, later it becomes sharp and simple. More…