Finnish Poems Translated into English
Here are some poems I have found in anthologies. They are all translated from the Finnish but not by me. Some of the poets are still living.
Eeva-Liisa Manner (1921- )


I will show you a way
that I have travelled.

If you come
If you come back some day
searching for me

do you see how everything shifts
a little every moment
and becomes less pretentious
and more primitive
(like pictures drawn by children
or early forms of life:
the soul's alphabet)

you will come to a warm region
it is soft and hazy
but then I will no longer be me,
but the forest.

* * * * *

Arvo Turtianen (1904-1980)


The loveliest poem is born
when you are close to someone,
when tenderness,
simple and boundless,
without questions
flows from one to the other.

You do not forget the loveliest poem.
It is stamped on your forehead, eyes,
lips and heart,
stamped for lovers to read,
for lovers to surrender.

* * * * * *

Eeva Kilpi (1928- )


Let me know right away
if I'm disturbing you.
he said
as he stepped inside my door,
and i"ll leave the way I came.

Not only do you disturb me,
I answered,
You turn my whole world
upside down.

* * * * *


No sooner had I learned to
get along without
than I happened to think:
I will not give up this person,

And the sheets burst into bloom.
This is reality, he said,
and dreams paled.

So that was the kind of force
behind those civilized glances
that for years
we gave each other.

* * * * *


When you have seen a cloud
in the lap of a pond;
and the moon
between the waterlilies;
inevitably you are at the mercy
of your own soul.

* * * * *

What is this sound that wakens me at night?

It is biology, it calls out its rights.
At night you can hear it more
clearly, when the
sociologists are sleeping.

* * * * * *

Veiji Meri (1928- )


Pitch and quality struggle in our words
and rock them back and forth constantly.
I flop flat on my stomach on top of them
so they won't rise up
like any glued corners that have come loose.
One continual rocking
this language just like this life.
When you lie on top of it, it starts
to throb like a cushioned woman's heart.

Once we breathed together for the same beat
for two minutes, until we noticed
it. You had a bottle of red wine,
I had a schnaps glass of cactus liquor.
Is that what gave us the same rhythm?
Are we so much different?

* * * * * * *

Aaro Hellakoski (1893-1952)


Under sleepy branches
a strange light shines,

in the forest a magic path
comes from nowhere, leads nowhere.

My shadow fled, I am
without body. disolved in moonlight.

My step remains suspended in mid-air,
My hand touches emptiness.

* * * * * *

Tommy Tabermann (1947- )


Possessive love arrives,
it locks the door behind it
and settles in forever,
always predictable.

Love arrives,
it leaves its luggage
by the door,
in case worse comes to worst,
but it still undresses.

Passion arrives, first it lights
a hundred candles, then pulls
the door off its hinges and
breaks the windows.
Leaves everything, everything
to the care of the wind.

* * * * * *

Arto Mellar (1956- )


A person's life: width of a hand
I have heard it said
I look at the early morning sky:
from star to star
even less
The happiness that you wait for,
something that
cannot be measured, only possoble
if not measured.
At sunrise small birds, without bursting,
sing out loud the morning dew,
the bright sound of countless droplets.

* * * * * *

Anselm Hollo, born in Finland, but now lives
in Colorado, is a faculty member of the Naropa Institute
and has translated many Finnish poets into English.


Given the heavy jar full of all relevant
information, he dropped it on the sidewalk
and burst out laughing as the container and
its contents shattered and scattered in the
raging blizzard; he had been on his way to
present it to her, for her to dispose of as
she wished, but with the surreptitious expec-
tation that they might "go through it" together.

Now, the absurdity of the understanding had
become blatantly apparent, and he vowed to
tell the next full moon that he abjured such
subterfuge for ever: silence and starkness,
these were the perennial conditions of birth,
& love & death, the so-called great subjects,
the ones no one could ever say anything but
the dramatically obvious about.

* * * * * * *

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