Hannu Salakka, “Father’s Faded Shirtback”

The demolition of Mansikkala School, Imatra, South Karelia, 16 June 2018. Photo by Living in FIN

Isän kauhtunut paidanselkä
pullistelee tuulessa.
En edes yritä kipittää hänen edelleen.
Sitten hän pysähtyy, kääntyy ja katsoo minuun
ja sanoo:
tulee vain tänne,
ei täällä ole mitään pelkäämistaä.
Ja minä hullu uskon häntä.
Ja niin joudun kauas tulevaisuuteen.

Father’s faded shirtback
swells in the wind.
I don’t even try to scurry in front of him.
Then he stops, turns, looks at me, and says,
“It’s only coming.
There’s nothing to fear.”
I am crazy enough to believe him.
And so I would wind up far in the future.

Source: Hannu Salakka, Kuin unessa viipyen (Otava, 1990), p. 587. Translated by Thomas H. Campbell

3 thoughts on “Hannu Salakka, “Father’s Faded Shirtback”

  1. Hieno runo! Olen säveltänyt tämän laulusarjaani “Niin joudun kauas tulevaisuuteen”, joka on myös kirjan nimi, josta nuo viisi runoa poimin. Ne kattavat miehen elämän lapsuudesta vanhuuden luopumisen tunnelmiin.
    Samasta kirjasta poimin tekstin myös kuoroteokseeni “Maa kantaa”.
    Hienoa nähdä, että joku muukin on innostunut Salakan lakonisesta sanailusta.
    Terveisin: Pertti Jalava


    1. Thank you, Pertti, for your lovely and completely unexpected letter. And please forgive me for addressing you in English. I’m living in Germany at the moment, while studying Spanish intensely and continuing my real job of translating texts from Russia to English, so my very tiny Finnish brain is not working so well at the moment… It’s thrilling to hear Salakka’s poems set to such beautiful music. I can’t help think he would have liked it a lot, although maybe that’s speculating too much. Your description of the collection these poems are taken from is completely accurate, although it’s odd to think that when he died in 2003, Salakka was younger than I am now, and I’m not all that old, and yet he was writing about old age. I discovered his work completely by chance, by buying a book of his poems in a kirpputori somewhere in South Karelia. Since then I’ve assembled a nearly complete collection of his books, and almost all of them were purchased by chance in kirpputoreja and, in one case, at a garage sale. This has given me the perhaps mistaken impression that Salakka has been all but forgotten. I’m glad to discover this is not the case. For my part, I enjoy translating his work immensely. He’s a hidden gem, and I hope to translate enough of his work in the next year or so to be able to offer a whole book to a publisher.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry, I just noticed your interesting reply. Yes, I think he is not so very well known.
    I like especially his natural and far from pretentious style.The poems open at once, but still leave plenty to think about.
    Good luck for your work with the translations, hopefully you get enough done for a book to be published.


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