After the Wait (Odotuksen jälkeen), Saima Harmaja

Nice to have a reminder that Finnish does have a tradition of poetry with rhythm and rhyme. Why can’t more modern Finnish poets – at least the ones I hear – tap into this tradition?

lingua fennica


No one should face death at twenty-three. Saima Harmaja’s poetry, however, is the more powerful because that was her fate. This is one of her last poems, written as tuberculosis was about to take her.

I decided not to find a perfect rhyme at the end. Various possibilities suggested themselves, but all seemed too trivial.

I may have dreamt that just now I was crying
that summer through my veins no longer flows.
He’s come, and with protracted weeks so trying
from heart of summer’s stolen splendour’s shows.

Again the roses bloom with their hot blushes,
as if they might erupt in my embrace,
exquisite belt around the waist it crushes:
your hand is strong, I can’t its grip escape.


Lie unta, että vielä äsken itkin
ja suvi suonissani juossut ei.
Hän tullut on, ken viikoin tuskan-pitkin
pois sydänkesän kaiken loiston vei.

Taas puhkee ruusut väreihinsä kuumiin,
kuin sylistäni…

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