Smiling Apollo (Hymyilevä Apollo), Eino Leino

No mean feat, translating this.

lingua fennica


I have a notion that this may be the first English translation – I haven’t been able to find another. I’ve kept as closely to Leino’s shifting metre as possible – adjusting it slightly a few times when I felt not to do so would affect the English sound. Leino’s Finnish is hugely challenging – I hope I’ve done some justice to this much loved Finnish poem…

The poem presents a generous and humane universalism that is earthed in love of the local. Its message is therefore timely for contemporary Finland. Here’s the Helsingin Sanomat article by Jukka Huusko which prompted me to undertake the translation.

On this page you’ll find two recordings of actors reading excerpts – listen to the second to get a sense of how extraordinarily beautiful the Finnish is…

I sang to my mother, departed now,
my mother at once comprehended.
She pressed her kisses upon…

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