Electric Verses

28 Sep


I found a website for contemporary Finnish poetry. The poems have been translated on this site so I can read them in English and then look at them in Finnish.

Here is a poem in both languages by the Finnish Poet Pentti Holappa.

[Photo credit: http://www.doh.state.fl.us/]

Late in the evening behind my darkened window
I  feel lost. A foreign land,
perhaps even a foreign planet
is my prison.

Then I recall the bird, a crow, that
perched on the curved peak
of a promenade streetlamp in the icy wind
and watched the day.

With wondrous calm he controlled the world.
Time and the traffic went as he wanted: a minute
lasted a minute, precisely, an hour an hour,
people bent to the wind —

to their fate, labouring towards their goals —
which the crow simply wafted to, on the gale,
wavering, yes, but flying with no thought
he was flying.

Late evening. I´m thinking. Not flying.

Below is the same poem, only this time it is in Finnish.


Myöhään illalla pimennetyn ikkunan takana
minusta tuntuu, että olen eksynyt. Vieras maa,
kenties vieras planeettakin ovat vankilanani.
Silloin muistan linnun, variksen, joka päivällä
istuutui rantabulevardilla hyisessä tuulessa
katulampun kaarelle ja katsoi: Ihmeellisen
rauhallisesti se hallitsi maailmaa.
Juuri niin kuin lintu tahtoi, sujui liikenne ja aika,
täsmälleen minuutin kesti minuutti, tunti tunnin,
ihmiset kumartuivat tuulta, kohtaloaan vasten
ponnistellen vaivalloisesti ehtiäkseen perille,
minne varis lensi myrskytuulen kantamana,
tosin vaappuen, ajattelematta että lensi
varis lensi. Myöhä ilta. Ajattelen. Lennä en.


3 Responses to “Electric Verses”

  1. nichole September 30, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    I like this poem. Did the author translate it herself or was a translator involved? It is always so interesting when writers translate themselves. You wonder to what extent they simply create a different poem in a different language.

  2. hellosinki September 30, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    It’s like you read my mind. I just sent you an e-mail about translating. This poem is not translated by the author (who is a man, FYI). It’s translator is Herbert Lomas from Älä pelkää, 1997.

    • hellosinki September 30, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

      And I really liked this poem, too- especially, the last few lines.

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