Idle Work (Joutotyötä), Eino Leino

lingua fennica


After the slog of Prayer of the Troubled One, this early poem was almost a romp, and its light and regular metre something of a relief. But don’t be deceived by its fairy tale beginning – it is the despairing cry of a man resigned to the disinterest of a capricious God…

Well, now the story’s known. ’Tis somewhere there –
at valley’s edge – a fortress view exposes,
its ramparts park surrounds, a prospect fair,
but raven wall entirely park encloses.

And feather bed of gallant make refined
in greatest hall of noble fort is planted.
With Turkish carpet’s weave its stalls are lined
and purple hangs in apertures enchanted.

On downy pillow year on year he dreams,
there castle’s lord himself is nightly resting,
and distant, faint and lovely music streams
with sundry fragrant herby scents arresting.

And wafts Havana’s fine tobacco smoke,
his eyes the…

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