Archive for September, 1995

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.


A life of letters

Issue 3/1995 | Archives online, Authors

Death is a central theme in the poetry 
of Eeva-Liisa Manner (1921–1995). In many poems she
 described the proximity of death and 
the last frontier in order to conquer
 death and laugh at it – often grimly,
 sometimes cheerlessly.

But actually I died ages ago,
 and when death comes, when it strikes
 the body that wears my clothes,
 it's all a predestined rendezvous:
 movement stops, words scatter like snow,
         the eyes' apparitions
 are off like a flight of pigeons....

Manner wrote in a collection entitled
 Niin vaihtuvat vuoden ajat (‘So change the
 seasons’), which appeared as early 
as 1964. More…

The last melody

Issue 3/1995 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Kadotettu puutarha (‘The lost garden’, WSOY, 1995). Introduction by Riina Katajavuori

Their sojourn at the villa extended into the autumn of 1944; the schools did not go back as usual on the first of September. Repair of the university buildings progressed rapidly; the work had begun immediately after the bombing. The Doctor went to town from time to time, but nothing bound the family to it, and he returned to his desk in the attic room and to his solitary walks by the lake. His heart troubled him from time to time. It did not like these walks, did not like exertion; but he had succeeded in concealing the matter from Elisabet. After one particular attack, he had secretly seen a doctor in town, and now, instead of camphor tablets, he always had those little buttons in his pocket, the breast pocket of his waistcoat. He swallowed one from time to time on these expeditions, a pain in his wrists and his eyes staring dimly at a clump of ferns that seemed to have become hazy, or a tree-top that seemed to be falling toward him. He did not wish Elisabet to know. Not this, in Elisabet’s world, not this, in air that was suffused with grief for their dead son Leo, with well controlled and beautifully expressed emotion, with concern for the remaining boy, who was there, on the frontier, with the burdensome and universal tragedy that filled the air as light filled it in daytime. More…

While there was still time

Issue 3/1995 | Archives online, Authors

The publication of Kadotettu puutarha (‘The lost garden’, 1995), a novel by Helvi
 Hämäläinen, more than forty years after it was written, has been a literary sensation. The poet Riina Katajavuori describes
 her first encounter with the anguished 1940s intelligentsia whose lives it charts

I am in the midst of a strange, unfamiliar, 
lost World. These 1940s gentlefolk are a
 mixture of backbone and nerve: externally they look as if a breath of wind could 
blow them away but internally they are
 tenacious and unyielding in their capac
ity to look war and death straight in the 
eye, continuing their own undisturbed 
life, whose affected and aesthetic calm it is 
impossible to dislocate.

Or is it? Does not Helvi Hämäläinen’s
 Kadotettu puutarha describe precisely the
 internal collapse that war inevitably causes 
in everyone – even those who attempt to
 deny ugliness with lime-blossom tea and 
honey, cherry jam and the Moonlight 
Sonata? Into the lives of the main characters of Hämäläinen’s earlier novel, Säädyllinen murhenäytelmä (‘A respectable 
tragedy’, 1941), to which this is a sequel,
 moral decay, materialism and wicked 
manners have penetrated in the form of a
 wicked woman, the din of a radio or a 
noisy lodger. Impurities make their appearance in their lives, which cannot be 
aestheticised and around which no softening web of forgiveness and propriety
 can be spun. More…