Lassi Nummi in memoriam 1928–2012

16 March 2012 | In the news

Lassi Nummi. Photo: Jouni Harala

Poet and author Lassi Nummi died on 13 March at the age of 83.

His first collection of poems, Intohimo olemassaoloon (‘A passion for existence’) appeared in 1949. Nummi worked as a journalist, chairman of the Finnish PEN Club and as a member of the Bible translation committee.

Nummi published a couple of prose works and more than two dozen collections of poems;  in an interview by Tarja Roinila* he said he was ‘a prose writer who has strayed into poetry’ and that he regarded himself ‘a fairly old-fashioned poet’.

Nummi attempted to find a synthesis between traditionalism and modernism – the prevailing ‘ism’ in the 1950s Finland – and wrote both metrical, traditional and speech-like, free verse.

Religious, philosophical and existential themes are found in his poetry, strongly featuring imagery of nature, music and travelling. His poems have been translated into six languages.

Nummi’s two sons, Markus and Ilari, became artists as well – Markus, an author, Ilari, a filmmaker.

Above and through everything

Above and through everything
the thin web of life. On an evening like this,
its strands
are stretched to breaking
under the moment’s significange, the light’s
weight. So much empty space,
so much lovely desolation
freed from significance
in us, in the world,
it makes you grow faint.
And here, all dreams have to be dreamed by oneself!
When I am dead, a stone
will dream my dreams.

From Hengitys yössä (‘Breathing in the night’, 1995), translated by Anselm Hollo , *) published in Books from Finland 1/1998