When Paths Cross (“Lajittelematta”), Anja Porio


This caught my eye this morning. I know nothing about its author at all.

It affords a good illustration of the challenge of translating Finnish. The first four lines contain four words of six syllables alternating with five. The stress, as always in Finnish, falls on the first syllable, with a secondary stress in this case on the fifth or fourth. I gave up any attempt to reproduce this, and settled for a consistent approach (almost) with the same number of syllables. It was easier to reproduce the stress patterns in the rest of the poem, but doing so required considerable padding: “…on the/ way before me” for “valtatiella” (on the highway); and “journey of love” for “rakastamaan” (“to love”). I have chosen to leave out punctuation, as Porio herself does.

Without any piecing
lumping together
without any judgement
if I but let
people and the turns of life
brush by me on the
way before me
miracles my eyes would contemplate
apprehend my ears a new thing
glisten my skin with exulting
heart would discover
journey of love.


jos sallisin
elämän ja ihmisten
tulla vastaani
näkisivät silmät ihmeitä
kuulisivat korvat uutta
hehkuisi iho ilosta
oppisi sydän

Translation by Rupert Moreton

2 thoughts on “When Paths Cross (“Lajittelematta”), Anja Porio

  1. Why did you choose the word order “apprehend my ears” and “glisten my skin” instead of subject-verb order? I imagine stress and syllable length/count had something to do with it.


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