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17 March 2015 | This 'n' that

Gösta Ågren

Gösta Ågren. Photo: Studio Paschinsky

Back in the day, in one of our periodic excursions into merchandising – the main criteria were that our goods should be flat (to fit into an envelope) and, of course, literary – we printed Books from Finland t-shirts. They were wildly popular – we must have sold, oh, dozens of them – and top of the list was a shirt with a laconic couplet by Gösta Ågren: ‘Don’t worry / it will never work out.’

Writing in Swedish and hailing from a small village in Ostrobothnia, in the far north-west of Finland, Ågren (born 1936) is the author of poems, essays and biographies. He may often choose to adopt the persona of a country curmudgeon, but the laconic tone of his poems belies a tenderness, a universalism, and an underlying political commitment, that speaks of a love of the world, a desire to make it into a better place.

The volume from which these poems are taken, Jär (‘Here’, 1989), won the Finlandia Prize for Literature in 1989.


The digitisation of Books from Finland continues, with a total of 372 articles and book extracts made available online so far. Each week, we bring a newly digitised text to your attention.



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