Sick I-IV (Sairas I-IV), Saima Harmaja

lingua fennica


These were written in 1932, when Harmaja was nineteen. With the exception of the the final piece, where I made one or two changes, I’ve followed her metre completely. In the second, especially, there’s little doubt that she is deliberately reproducing the consumptive’s gasping breaths. It’s not comfortable reading. One is left with an overwhelming sense of sadness at the tragedy of her short life.

Doleful, the tiny stars look on
me in the sleeping town.
Now I am weary. The silent
agony brings me down.

Once there was a season
flaming with ardent dreams.
Stars in the heavens would shine then,
playful, with radiant beams.

Surely, those days are over –
for now I only pray
I may perhaps succeed in
getting some sleep today.

It’s animals only who moan,
it’s the thing I mustn’t do.
The earth has the darkest black hue.
And death with…

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