“Our Land” (“Vårt land”, the Finnish national anthem) by J.L. Runeberg – my translation from the Swedish

Maceochi's Language Learning

Vårt land From a school edition of “Fänrik Ståls sägner”, Helsinki, 1951.

This is my first poetic translation from Swedish. J.L. Runeberg (1804-77) is the Finnish national poet, not least thanks to his epic Tales of Ensign Stål (Fänrik Ståls sägner), a verse account of the Finnish War between Russia and Sweden (1808-09), which led to Finland becoming an autonomous part of the Russian Empire. The verses that would become the national anthem, Vårt land, open the book. Runeberg published his Tales in the year of European revolution of 1848, and they would come to play a part in forming the new Finnish identity.

By translating this ‘sacred’ text I am opening myself up to several charges. My Swedish is far from fluent, this is the national song of a country whose citizen I am not, and I am translating the Swedish, not the Finnish. To all who come with such criticisms, I politely say…

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