Finland 100: Edith Södergran

AstuvansalmiKevät2015

It is spring. The earth is bare, the snow is melting. The nights are cold, but the sun is getting stronger, the days are getting longer, a lot longer. Takatalvi (“back-winter” – the reverse of an Indian summer) might strike at any moment. “But it is still snowing, it’s not spring yet!” visitors say. It’s not O-to-be-in-England-now-that-April’s-here spring, it’s not sakura season, but this is spring as we know it.

SödergranSuomennosThe right time to read Edith Södergran, perhaps. She looks much more depressing than she really is. A Swedish-speaking Finn whose first poetry collection was published the year before Finland’s independence, she died young of tuberculosis (of course!) just a few years after. These three poems, translated into English by David Barrett, are all from the 1916 collection Dikter/Poems/Runot. You can find these and all her work in the original Swedish online at Project Runeberg. And the Finnish translations, from her complete collected poems (right) which I read, are by Uuno Kaila, Aale Tynni and Pentti Saaritsa. Although she has been translated into numerous languages, the full Finnish collection was only published 70 years after her death, in 1994. Finland’s 100th birthday, and the 101st anniversary of her first collection, is a good time to look at Södergran’s poems again.

Tidig gryning

Några sista stjärnor lysa matt.
Jag ser dem ur mitt fönster. Himlen är blek,
man anar knappast dagen som börjar i fjärran.
Det vilar en tystnad utbredd över sjön,
det ligger en viskning på lur mellan träden,
min gamla trädgård lyssnar halvförstrött
till nattens andetag, som susa över vägen.

Ord

Varma ord, vackra ord, djupa ord…
De äro som doften av en blomma i natten
den man icke ser.
Bakom dem lurar den tomma rymden…
Kanske de äro den ringlande röken
från kärlekens varma härd?

En fången fågel

En fågel satt fången i en gyllene bur
i ett vitt slott vid ett djupblått hav.
Smäktande rosor lovade vällust och lycka.
Och fågeln sjöng om en liten by högt uppe i bergen,
där solen är konung och tystnaden drottning
och där karga små blommor i lysande färger
vittna om livet, som trotsar och består.

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Posted in books, Finland 100, poetry, translation

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