Lapland Summer (Lapin kesä), Eino Leino

lingua fennica


I translated this quickly, when I should have been doing other things. It probably shows – especially, perhaps – and frustratingly – in the last line. But Leino somehow grips me. He deserves to be better known outside Finland, but language and (post)modernity work against him, I fear. The picture above is the view from Leino’s birthplace, not in Lapland, but in Kainuu.

Outbursts blossom in Lapland rapidly
in earth, in barley, grass, dwarf birches too.
This I have pondered very frequently
when people’s daily lives there I review.

O why are all our beautiful ones dying
and why do great ones rot in disarray?
O why among us many minds are losing?
O why so few the kantele now play?

O why here everywhere a man soon crashes
like hay when scythed – ambitious man indeed,
a man of honour, sense – it all soon smashes,
or breaks apart…

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