Author: Tuomas Anhava

Landscapes of the mind

Issue 2/1986 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Tuomas Anhava. Photo: Otava

Tuomas Anhava. Photo: Otava

In his book Suomalaisia nykykirjailijoita (‘Contemporary Finnish writers’), Pekka Tarkka describes Tuomas Anhava’s development as a poet as follows: In his first work, Anhava appears as an elegist of death and loneliness; and this classical temperament remains characteristic in his later work. Anhava is a poet of the seasons and the hours of the day, of the ages of man; and his scope is widened by the influence of Japanese and Chinese poetry. As well as his miniature, crystal­clear, imagist nature poems, Anhava writes, in his Runoja 1961 (‘Poems 1961’), brilliant didactic poems stressing the power of perception and rebuffing conceptual explanation. The mood in Kuudes kirja (‘The sixth book’, 1966) is of confessionary resignation and intimate subjectivity.

Anhava’s literary inclinations reflect his most important translations, which include William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1959), selections of Japanese tanka poetry (1960, 1970, 1975), Saint John Perse’s Anabasis (1960), a selection from the works of Ezra Pound, published under the title Personae, and selections from the work of the Finland-­Swedish poets Gunnar Björling and Bo Carpelan.


Song of the black

My days must be black,
to make what I write stand out
on the bleached sheets of life,
my rage must be the colour of death, to make my black love stand out,
my nights must be summer white and snow white,
to make my black grief burn far,
since you're grieving and I love you 
for your undying grief.
Let the sun's rolled gold gild dunghills,
let the moon's blue milk leak out till it's empty,
              we're not short of those.
The obscure black darkness of the cosmic night 
glitters on us enough.
From Runoja (1955)