Hannu Salakka, “Yet”


Kuinka tarkkaan elämä vie kaiken ajan!

Tämän tästä hänen on oltava siellä,
toisen tuolla,
ties missä,
kaikki on hoidettava,
jokainen velvollisuus täytettävä,
sillä huonolla omallatunnolla
on mahdoton
Ja kun lopulta koittaa taas yhteinen hetki,
vanhat velvollisuudet eivät noin vain suostu unohtumaan
ja uudet alkavat jo asettua taloksi mieleen.

Ja aina on ja on ollut näin;
oli kevät,
tuli kesä,
meni talvi,
kiireessä on mahdoton kunnolla rakastaa,
kului vuosia,
yhä useammat asiat
alkoivat olla tapahtuneet jo vuosia sitten.

Ja silti on aikaa koko se elämä
joka niin tarkkaan vie kaiken ajan.
Aikaa rakastaa minkä ehtii.


How life takes up all your time!

One of you has to be there,
The other somewhere else,
who knows where.
Everything must be managed,
every obligation fulfilled,
because with a bad conscience
it is impossible
to love.
And when finally a shared moment comes again,
the old responsibilities won’t just agree to be forgotten
while the new ones are already making themselves at home in your head.

It has always been like this.
There was spring,
summer came,
winter passed.
It’s impossible to love properly in a hurry.
Years passed,
more and more things
started happening years ago.

And yet there is time for all that life
that takes up so much time.
Love the time you have time for.

Source: Hannu Salakka, Kuin unessa viipyen (Otava, 1990), p. 511. Image courtesy of Amazon.in. Translated by Living in FIN

Hannu Salakka, “The sky and the horizon like dirty water”

Taivas ja taivaanrannat kuin likaista vettä
tai ikkunalasia.
Ihmiset tulevat yhä enemmän toistensa kaltaisiksi
ja menettävät mielenkiintonsa,
yhä selvemmäksi käy että hyvät ajat ovat vain
sisäisiä tunteita,
mieli ainoa ajateltavissa oleva onnea tuottava
vapauden korvike.

The sky and the horizon like dirty water
or window glass.
People are becoming more and more like each other
and lose their savour.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that good times are just
a matter of inner feelings,
consciousness the only conceivable happiness,
a surrogate for freedom.

Source: Hannu Salakka, Kuin unessa viipyen (Otava, 1990), p. 429. Translation and photo by Living in FIN

Hannu Salakka: Three Poems

Patsaat ovat alkaneet elää
niinkuin menneisyys olisi astunut voimaan,
niinkuin kaikki kannetut taakat
yhä painaisivat kantajaansa.
Iloiset vainajat ovat kerääntyneet
neuvonpitoon tulevaisuuden porteille;
kuolematonta puhetta tavoitellessaan
mutisevat kuin vuosisadat.

● ● ● ● ● ● ●

The statues have come to life
as if the past had come into force,
as if all the burdens borne
still pressed down on their bearers.
The happy dead have gathered
for negotiations at the future’s gates.
In their pursuit of immortal speech
they mutter like the centuries.

Viilenee hitaasti,
miedot tuoksut kohoavat aaltoina.
Valvoa myöhään, herätä varhain,
olla jouten koko pitkän päivän.
Mutta jokin huolestuttaa.
Ehkä kadonnut taito päästä irti asioista,
Jotka eivät tapahdu täällä.

● ● ● ● ● ● ●

It cools slowly,
mild scents rising in waves.
Staying up late, waking up early,
Being idle all day long.
But there’s something worrying.
Maybe the lost art of letting things go
that do not happen here.


Odotan ystävää,
mutta häntä ei kuulu.
On jo pimentynyt,
ikkunastani vain loistaa valo,
ja kuu
alkaa jo kohota.
Jos hän on jo lähtenyt matkaan,
tapaa ystävän.
Jos viivyttelee,
löytääkö katkeran miehen.
Viini on hyväksi sille,
joka osaa olla sille ystävällinen,
mutta pahaksi sille,
joka muutenkin tuottaa elämässään vahinkoa
Mutta tunne sitä ei kukaan.

Varasin viiniä molemille,
se alkaa olla jo lopuillan, kuu korkealla.
Metsä kylmä ja sumuinen,
katsomattakin tiedän, miten asiat siellä ovat,
mutta nyt haluaisin kuulla, kuinka se on vaiti.
Tunnen sen:
kun on joku ihminen mukana,
esittelen kuin kotiani.
Mutta kun menen yksin
ja kaikki pakenevat,
en tiedä miten olisin.


I wait for a friend,
but he is nowhere to be heard.
It has gone dark already:
the light shines only from my window,
and the moon has
started to rise.
If he’s already on his way,
he will find a friend.
If he dawdles,
he might find a bitter man.
Wine is good for the one
who can be sweet to it,
but bad for the man
who goes through life doing harm
to himself as it is.
But no one knows this.

I have set aside wine for both of us.
It’s getting to the end of the night, the moon is high.
The woods are cold and foggy.
Even without looking, I know how things are out there,
but now I would like to hear them quiet.
I can feel it:
when there’s a person involved,
I’ll show you around like I’m home.
But when I go alone
and all flee,
I don’t know how to be.

Source: Hannu Salakka, Kuin unessa viipyen (Otava, 1990), pp. 246, 156, 67. Photos and translation by Living in FIN

Eeva Kilpi, “January”


Saattaa olla
että minuun pätevät vain vihoviimeiset
karjalaiset sananparret:
Mikäs pahan tappaisi?

On siis varustauduttava pitkään ikään.
Saattaa olla että elän satavuotiaaksi
ja ties vaikka ylikin.
Koettakaa kestää jos niin käy.
Myös minä koetan.

On opeteltava itsekkyyttä.
On pidettävä itsestään huolta.
On oltava oma palveluskuntansa.
Oma uskottunsa.

Elämä on velvollisuus.
Elämä on intohimoa.
Elämä on syyllisyyttä.

On niin omituisen urhea olo.
Kuolenkohan minä nyt?

The River Vuoksi in Imatra, 30 December 2018


It well may be
that only the old Karelian saw
applies to me:
bad weeds never die.

So I have to gear up for the long haul.
Maybe I’ll live to be a hundred years old,
and god knows how many more on top of that.
You try and hold on if it happens to you.
I am going to try and hold on, too.

You must learn to be selfish.
You must take care of yourself.
You must be your own servant.
Your own confidante.

Life is duty.
Life is passion.
Life is guilt.

I feel so strangely brave.
Am I going to die now after all?

Source: Eeva Kilpi, Kuolinsiivous (WSOY, 2012). Photo and translation by Living in FIN


The life of D.E.D. Europaeus, who was born in Savitaipale 200 years ago, was full of curiosities. Photo: Museovirasto

This strange man came up with dozens of words that you use every day, and without him, Tolkien’s world-famous fantasy classic might not have been born
Europaeus, who was born on 1 December 1820, introduced over 200 words into the Finnish language and one of its most famous characters to the Kalevala
Petri Kivimäki
30 November 2020

It’s a miracle if you’ve ever heard the name David Emmanuel Daniel Europaeus.

It’s also a miracle if you have never heard or used the words eduskunta (“parliament”), harrastus (“hobby”), ilmansuunta (“compass point, direction”), mielikuvitus (“imagination”), johtaja (“manager”), tilavuus (“volume”), keräilijä (“collector”), kunta (“municipality”) or varasto (“stockpile, warehouse”).

All of these words were coined by Europaeus, or at least he published them for the first time in the history of the Finnish language.

Europaeus left us over 200 words that we still use.

Despite his strange-sounding surname, D.E.D. Europaeus was 100% Finnish. He was born 200 years ago on 1 December 1820 in a rural farmhouse in Savitaipale, South Karelia, about 40 km from Lappeenranta.

Without Europaeus, J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, would never have written The Story of Kullervo, nor would Jean Sibelius have composed his symphonic suite Kullervo. Elias Lönnrot’s Kalevala would be thinner.

The Swedish-Finnish dictionary compiled by Europaeus is on display at the Europaeus Museum. On the left is a list of words that Europaeus used for the first time in the history of the Finnish language. Photo: Petri Kivimäki/Yle

It is impossible to describe Europaeus briefly. He was a man of many hats and involved in everything: he was a Finnish-language advocate, newspaperman, pro-Finnish activist, archaeologist, teacher at a school for the deaf, lexicographer, and mathematician. He was an animal welfare officer for decades before any animal welfare society had even been established.

A man who grew up in a small country village 200 years ago, and whose impact is still audible in our lives every day, Europaeus is almost unknown.

Excited about everything
With a population of 3,400, the town center of Savitaipale looks quite similar to many other Finnish towns. There are a couple of grocery stores, a restaurant, several small businesses, a library, a fire department, and a town hall.

The handsome Olkkola estate is located a few hundred meters from the center. It was once the site of the old mansion building where Europaeus was born. His father was the vicar of Savitaipale, and his mother, the cattle girl at the vicarage.

Finnish was spoken at home, and there was a lot of multilingual literature, which Europaeus read voraciously as a boy.

There is now a small Europaeus museum next to the Olkkola estate. Inside, a big display case contains textbooks written by Europaeus, as well as copies of the magazine Suometar, which he published. On the walls, there are maps and reminiscences from his long research expeditions.

The museum is near Europaeus’s birthplace. Photo: Petri Kivimäki/Yle

A display case next to the back wall contains two human skulls found by Europaeus, which my guide has promised to tell me about soon.

A chart hung on a nail next to the skulls was used to teach the sounds of the Finnish language.

“This picture was used to teach the deaf the positions the mouth must assume to produce a certain sound,” says Eila Kajanus-Jurvanen, president of the Savitaipale Local Heritage Association.

This chart, developed by Europaeus, was used to teach the deaf to speak. Photo: Petri Kivimäki/Yle

Devised by Europaeus in 1857, the illustrated phonetic diagram was unique in Finland, because before Europaeus, no attempt had been made to teach the deaf to speak.

In his own time, Europaeus received no praise for the chart even though it enabled countless deaf people to get a toehold in the language. The chart was in use for decades: its replacement was published more than 100 years later.

“Europaeus was a special person in that he was always excited about everything new. However, his staying power in completing work was not always very good,” says Kajanus-Jurvanen.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s inspiration
When Europaeus was inspired by folklore, he naturally sought out Elias Lönnrot. Lönnrot, who was 18 years older than Europaeus, was no longer able to travel and collect oral folk poetry, but he set an enthusiastic Europaeus on the task.

Ultimately, Europaeus collected 53,000 verses on his five trips, which was far more than Lönnrot did on his dozen-some collecting trips. The Kalevala contains more poems collected by Europaeus than by Lönnrot himself.

Sculptor Viljo Savikurki’s bas-relief portrait of Europaeus was unveiled in Savitaipale in 1971. Photo: Petri Kivimäki/Yle

Lönnrot’s so-called Old Kalevala was published in 1835. Lönnrot then planned a new, larger edition. Europaeus sent a message to Lönnrot that the new edition of the Kalevala should be delayed, because he believed there was still a lot of unique poetry to be found in Ingria, the area around St. Petersburg.

That same year, Europaeus went on his fourth collecting trip to Ingria, during which he made a discovery.

“Lönnrot had never been there, and he did not think there would be any Finnish poetry there. Nevertheless, that’s where Europaeus found all the Kullervo poems. It is thanks to Europaeus that the Kullervo poems are now in the Kalevala,” says Kajanus-Jurvanen.

The Kullervo poems recorded by Europaeus ended up in the so-called New Kalevala, which was published in 1849. It is the same work that we read today as the Kalevala.

The Savitaipale elementary school is named after Europaeus. Photo: Kare Lehtonen/Yle

Kullervo has inspired many artists to create masterpieces. One of them was the writer J.R.R. Tolkien, whose Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have spread across the globe.

Tolkien was extremely interested in the Finnish language. He read the Kalevala in English, but he didn’t like it. So he learned the Finnish language by reading the Kalevala in the original. Tolkien was so enlightened by this episode that its effect began to appear immediately in his works.

Tolkien wrote his first prose piece The Story of Kullervo in 1914. It tells the tale of a young man who is sold into slavery and vows revenge on a magician who killed his father.

The Story of Kullervo was published in Finnish in 2016 under the title Kullervon tarina.

Tolkien also used mythological elements drawn from the Kalevala in his other works, both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Pölkäre and pyörö
In Europaeus’s day in the 19th century, there was still very little Finnish literature. Even as a child, he wanted Finnish literature and textbooks to be available to Finns.

When he started studying at the University of Helsinki, he took it upon himself to translate a geometry textbook into Finnish. Such things did not exist yet.

For The Geometry Book (Mittauden Oppi-kirja), published in 1847, Europaeus had to invent a whole set of Finnish words. Such words as kehä (“circumference”), suunnikas (“parallelogram”), tilavuus (“volume”), and parillinen (“even”) are still in use today.

However, not all the words have survived. Europaeus translated the word “circle” (ympyrä in modern Finnish) as pyörö (suggesting a “wheel”). Lävistäjä (“diagonal”) became keskeinen (which means “central” or “pivotal” in modern Finnish), and kuutio (“cube”) became pölkäre (suggesting a “block”).

Eila Kajanus-Jurvanen knows every object in the Europaeus Museum. Photo: Petri Kivimäki/Yle

Europaeus had to develop even more new words for his Swedish–Finnish dictionary. Although perhaps not all of them were personally coined by Europaeus, he brought them to light for the first time in the history of the Finnish language.

They include enemmistö (“majority”), harrastus (“hobby”), johtokunta (“committee”), vety (“hydrogen”), osoite (“address”), pätevä (“qualified, competent, valid”), ulkomaalainen (“foreigner”), valokuvaaja (“photographer”), viehättävä (“attractive, charming”), väitöskirja (“dissertation”), yhdyssana (“compound word”) and äänenkannattaja (“organ,” i.e., an official magazine, newsletter, or similar publication of an organization)

It is estimated that Europaeus introduced over 200 new words into the Finnish language.

Human bone collector
There is a sight in a display case at the Europaeus Museum that causes many museum visitors to pause for at least a moment: two real human skulls.

They harken back to the period when Europaeus was inspired by archaeology. After collecting folk poetry, he made seven archaeological expeditions, the first of them at the age of 51 in 1872, mainly to the northern shores of Lake Ladoga.

He is still the only Finn to have explored the southeastern parts of Ladoga.

During his travels he found objects in burial mounds that are now in museums around the world.

But Europaeus was not so much interested in objects as in bones and especially skulls. In keeping with the spirit of the times, he believed that they could be used to elucidate the history of European and Russian settlement.

Europaeus apparently found these two skulls near Ladoga. The Finnish National Museum has donated them to the Europaeus Museum. Photo: Petri Kivimäki/Yle

In one of his letters, Europaeus said that he had four skulls retrieved from the Savitaipale cemetery. Later, after his research trips, he wrote that he had all the skulls he needed.

“At the time, craniometry was in vogue. It was used to determine whether people were long-skulled or short-skulled. And then this was used to determine their origins,” says Kajanus-Jurvanen.

On the basis of his skull research, Europaeus concluded that Africa was humanity’s original home.

“That idea was laughed at, and all that was said was, ‘What a strange opinion,'” says Kajanus-Jurvanen.

No fame
In the 19th century, D.E.D. Europaeus was considered a peculiar vagabond, even a ragamuffin. In his own time, he was never approved, and he is still not famous.

“Europaeus was modest and did not promote himself,” says Pertti Jurvanen, a local heritage councilor who was involved in founding the D.E.D. Europaeus society.

Juha Nirkko, an archivist at the Finnish Literature Society, also explains how Europaeus was not well liked in his own time

“Lönnrot, for example, was a respected cholera doctor and was recognized for it. Poor Europaeus, on the other hand, was considered a cholera transmitter and well poisoner. Some people can’t get a break,” says Nirkoo.

A photograph of Europaeus taken by N.I. Snellman in the mid-1870s. Photo: Museovirasto

According to Nirkko, Europaeus was a telecommuter and temp worker of his day and age. He had no family and wandered around the country in search of work.

“He enrolled at university, but his studies never progressed,” says Nirkko.

Nirkko emphasizes how much Europaeus differed from his contemporaries. He was an anarchist of his time.

“He just couldn’t adhere to the norms and conventions of his time. He was not held back by the borders of countries, continents or cultures. Europaeus was not a limited thinker. Maybe he was too unrestrained and uncontrollable,” argues Nirkko.

Europaeus’s grave is in the old section of Hietaniemi Cemetery in Helsinki. The surname was subsequently Fennicized as Äyräpää, as seen on the tombstone to the left. Photo: Rudolph Bülow/Yle

After leaving Savitaipale to pursue his education, Europeaus was, at different times, a teacher, collected place names in St. Petersburg, and went on poetry collecting trips. He may have been a private tutor in Heinävesi, and studied in Viipuri and Helsinki. In Germany, he attended political rallies.

But he often returned to his native region on holiday. There he wrote, among other things, the Swedish–Finnish dictionary and met his sister Charlotta, who was also an avid collector of folk poetry.

In the spring of 1884 Europaeus went to St. Petersburg, where in the autumn of the same year he died at the age of 63.

Europaeus was buried in St. Petersburg. After a few weeks his remains were exhumed and brought to Helsinki, where on 4 December 1884 he was laid to rest in Hietaniemi Cemetery with other great men and women.

The peace of death has been attained by one wanderer of the world whose whole life was spent in tireless searching, restless acquisition and amateur pursuits. He lived like a bird without thinking about tomorrow’s needs.
—Excerpt from an article about Europaeus’s death, published in Uusi-Suometar on 23 October 1884

Europaeus’s date of death is marked on his tombstone as 15 October 1884, which, according to archivist Juha Nirkko, is at least quite close to the correct date. Some sources claim that Europaeus died in May 1884. Photo: Rudolph Bülow/Yle

Modest celebrations
Tuesday 1 December 2020 marks 200 years since the birth of D.E.D. Europaeus. The municipality of Savitaipale had planned a variety of events for the jubilee year, but most of them have been cancelled due to the coronavirus.

A small memorial event will take place at the Europaeus monument at 12:00 p.m. on first December.

On Thursday 3 December 2020 at 6:00 p.m. in the courtyard of the Europaeus School, excerpts from the play Europaeus, which was to be performed this year, will be presented. In addition, there will be a program by schoolchildren and a light show.

Thanks to Tiina Pasanen for the invaluable heads-up. Translated by Living in FIN

Eeva Kilpi, “December”


Vanhuutta ei voi ratkaista,
ystävät kalliit, sanoo isoäiti.
Sen kanssa on elettävä.
Sitä on siedettävä.
Sille on puhuttava ystävällisesti.
Sen kanssa on neuvoteltava.
Sen kanssa on pohdittava asioita,
tätä ilmiötä,
mysteeriä jopa.
Te jotka elätte nuoruutenne lumoissa
puoli vuosisataa ja ylikin,
mihin teillä on hätä?

Ja sinut, armaani,
minä haluaisin tavata vasta kuolemani jälkeen,
irtautuneena huolista,
kun hautajaiset olisivat ohi,
nurkat siivottu papereista ja sanomalehdistä,
kun perintöhuonekalut olisi sijoitettu,
vanhat kirjat jaettu,
metsästä päästy yksimielisyyteen
ja mieleni olisi vapautunut intohimoon.

Olisi aikaa iankaikkisesti.
Ei kiirettä mihinkään.
Olisin paratiisikelpoinen.


Old age cannot be solved,
friends are expensive, says Grandma.
You must live with it.
It’s tolerable.
You must speak to it kindly.
You must negotiate with it.
You must mull things over with it,
this phenomenon,
this mystery even.
You who have been enthralled by your youth
half a century and beyond,
what’s the emergency?

And you, my dear,
I would like to see you only after I die,
released from cares,
when the funeral is over,
the corners cleaned of were papers and newspapers,
when the heirloom furniture is relocated,
the old books divided,
agreement reached on the woodlot,
and my spirit released into passion.

There would be time forever.
Nowhere to hurry.
I would be fit for paradise.

Source: Eeva Kilpi, Kuolinsiivous (WSOY, 2012). Translation and photo by Living in FIN

Eeva Kilpi, “November”


Minulla on salainen rakastettu, sanoo isoäiti.
An invisible lover.
En osynlig älskare.
Salarakas, niin kuin nykysuomeksi sanotaan.

Kukaan ei ole nähnyt häntä.
En minäkään.
Hän tulee pimeällä
ja lähtee ennen aamunkoittoa.
Emme sytytä valoa.
Kohtaamme pimeässä
ja tunnustelemme toisemme esiin.
Etsimme toistemme huulet
ja paljonhan niitä on muitakin elimiä.
Kaikki ne löytyvät kyllä
vaikka silmät ummessa.

Harva se yö me leikimme
kaunotarta ja hirviötä,
minä vain en koskaan sytytä kynttilää.

Naapurit uskovat nähneensä hänet,
hänellä on kuulemma joka kerta
eri naamio.
Mutta niistähän minä en halua
tietää mitään.

Pääasia on hänen iso

“Watch free net TV. You are loved.”


I have a secret lover, says grandmother.
An invisible lover.
En osynlig älskare.
A salarakas, as they say in modern Finnish.

No one has seen him.
Not even me.
He comes after dark
and leaves before daybreak.
We don’t switch on the lights.
We meet in the dark
and feel each other out.
We find each other’s lips,
and there are many other organs.
All of them will be found
even though my eyes are closed.

Almost nightly we play
Beauty and the Beast.
I just never light a candle.

The neighbors believe they have seen him.
Reportedly, each time he wears
a different mask.
But I want to know
nothing about them.

The main thing is his huge
ardor, his warmth.

Source: Eeva Kilpi, Kuolinsiivous (WSOY, 2012). Translation and photo by Living in FIN

Eeva Kilpi, “October”


Kun saisi kuolla nukkuessaan
eikä ainakaan yhtiökokouksessa
kesken kriittisen puheenvuoron,
vaan omassa vuoteessa unta nähden.
Kuninkaallinen kuolema, sanoo naapuri.
Toivomme sitä yhdessä
hartaasti, toistuvasti,
ikkunanraosta jutellessamme.
Rivissä kuollaan
mutta ei ikäjärjestyksessä
ja pohdiskellaan miksi.
Opitaan sairauksien nimiä,
tervehditään oireita,
tuttuja jo kaikki.
Kun ehtisi siivota sitä ennen.
Kun jaksaisi.
Onkohan se edes mahdollista?

On se.
Mahdollista kuin myöhäinen sieniretki
kuin äkkiarvaamatta löytynyt karpalosuo
jonka näkee harjanteelta,
kuin puolukat lokakuussa,
kuin mustikat lumen alta.

Tehdään maailma valmiiksi.
Mehän osataan.


You should die in your sleep
and certainly not at the annual meeting
in the middle of a critical speech,
but in one’s own bed, dreaming.
It’s a royal death, says the neighbor.
We hope for it together
earnestly, repeatedly,
gabbing through the gap in the window.
People die like dominoes
but not by age
and wonder why.
They memorize the names of diseases,
they greet all the symptoms
like old friends.
Would that you had time to clean the house beforehand.
(She sighs.)
Would that you had the strength.
Do you think it’s even possible?

It is.
It’s as possible as a late mushrooming trip
in the sunshine,
like a cranberry bog, found unexpectedly,
that you can see from the ridge,
like lingonberries in October,
like blueberries beneath the snow.

Let’s get the world ready.
We know how.

Source: Eeva Kilpi, Kuolinsiivous (WSOY, 2012). Translation and photo by Living in FIN

10,000 Steps (International Translation Day)

In recent years, I have celebrated International Translation Day on this day, September 30, here at Living in FIN. Today, I discovered that the overarching theme of this year’s celebration is “Finding the words for a world in crisis.” It is not that I think that the world is not in crisis (or that I thought it was ever not in crisis), but having worked for thirteen years on a much more intense and exhausting online translation project that only this month has, for the first time, passed the ten thousand monthly views mark, I do wonder how much difference translation makes to a “world in crisis.”

More to the point, when you sometimes wait, as I do, for months to get paid for rush translation jobs, that is, for “real work” (not the fun I’m having here) or are offered (as I was the other day) 1,200 euros for translating a six-hundred-page book (which should cost at least 12,000 euros) you feel both inspired and then, just as instantly, let down when you read that translation is a “moral debt,” as I did a few days ago on the Facebook page of a well-known poet and translator.

A moral debt to whom? To people who think that translation is as easy as falling off a chair, a kind of menial mechanical intellectual labor? To people who cannot be bothered to learn to speak any foreign language fluently? To people hostile to the foreign tongues in their midst?

Yes, it’s lovely to share your talents by giving people access to the lives, dreams, sufferings, and joys of other people, sometimes far away, whose languages they don’t speak. But since, I suspect, most translators labor without much in the way of recognition and appreciation (and money) from anyone, including even the people who benefit from their work, it’s better to imagine that, on the one hand, translating is something you’re doing for your own sake, something you’re doing to escape “the heavy bear that goes with me,” as Delmore Schwartz so aptly called his (our) brutish inner self, and, on the other, that translators are workers, too, and should demand good pay for fair work.

So, the hell with “moral debt.” Let’s be escapists instead. Here is today’s installment of Viivi & Wagner.

Panel 1
Wagner: I’m going to circle the bed until I get to 10,000 steps.

Panel 3
Viivi: I’d like to sleep. How many steps have you taken today?
Wagner: Those two just now.

Source: Helsingin Sanomat

Almost Finns have a few pro-tips for dealing with the kaamos, the polar night or the nearly endless darkness of winter nights and days on or above the sixtieth parallel.

Turn on the English subtitles if you don’t speak Finnish. Thanks to Tiina Pasanen for the link.

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Finally, it wouldn’t be a Living in FIN party without a few words of gloomy wisdom from the late great Hannu Salakka.

Elämä ei sellaista
kuin lauseiden synnystä saattaisi luulla.
Olen vain hetkeksi karannut tähän miettimään,

Life is not like that
like the way you might think sentences are born.
I’ve just run away for a while to think about it,
to think back.

lapsi opettaa kävelemään
niinkuin vanhaa miestä,
pysähtelemäänkin, katselemaan taakseen.

On afternoon strolls
a child teaches you to walk
like an old man,
even teaching you to stop and look back.

joka ei ole iloinen eikä surullinen,
mutta täynnä tunnetta.

A sound (a voice),
which is neither happy nor sad,
but full of emotion.

Source: Hannu Salakka, Kuin unessa viipyen (Otava, 1990), pp. 419–421. Translated by Living in FIN. Images courtesy of Duolingo, the best thing since sliced bread, especially since it started teaching Finnish.

Hannu Salakka, “Bird Calls, Migrating Flocks in Flight”

Kutsuäänet, muuttoparvien lento.
Tuntuu että kaipuunikin jättää minut
oman onneni nojaan
ojanlaitaan, pellonreunaan.
Alan ymmärtää,
että en ole vielä nähnyt kaikkea
mitä en enää koskaan tule näkemään.

Bird calls, migrating flocks in flight.
It feels like my longing is leaving me too
reclining in my own happiness
at the top of a ditch, the edge of a field.
It is starting to dawn on me
that I have not yet seen all of
what I will never see again.

Source: Hannu Salakka, Kuin unessa viipyen (Otava, 1990), p. 575. Translation and photo by Living in FIN