The Lord of Peace (Rauhan Herra), Eino Leino

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Leino wrote this in 1918, as the Great War raged and the newly independent Finland was itself afflicted by civil war – “the fratricide”, as he called it. It was written at the same time as the much longer “Smiling Apollo” (“Hymyilevä Apollo“), and no less reveals the struggle between Leino’s idealism and his despair at reality. Here‘s a translation of a Helsingin Sanomat article by Jukka Huusko about Leino’s relevance for today’s Finland.
 .
Behold! He comes, with garland he advances,
world his domain, and the people’s night,
the Lord of peace among us he entrances,
subdues embattled labour by his might.
God of the Yule in single nation dances,
holds sway above us all in starry height –
whoever sees his radiant garland shining
will ever after be the sword declining.
.
The fifth long year of war drags on unending
and still the Lord of peace has not prevailed,
ask not who’s won, with whom is fortune siding,
one thing is sure: the battles have assailed,
millions have fallen, bloody gore is streaming,
long-past the time for peace to be unveiled,
although to be among us Lord is deigning
love is ignored and fratricide is reigning.
 .
The greatest truth for any generation,
that round the earth has ever clearly rung,
that power knows, no less incarceration,
that wakens joy in hearts that terror’s wrung,
whose sound to breast can still bring jubilation,
that people know when death has nearly stung,
is that th’ eternal Lord’s abiding glory
and earthly peace and love were once our story.
 .
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Hän kulkee diadeemi otsallansa
ylitse maailman ja kansain yön,
Hän, rauhan Herra, joka rinnassansa
kaikk’ kätkee taistelot ja ihmistyön,
Jumala joulun, joll’ on yks vain kansa,
yks valtakunta yllä tähtivyön,
ja ken sen näkee kultakruunun säteen,
ei hälle kalpa enää nouse käteen.
.
On vierimässä sodan viides vuosi
ja yhä turhaan rauhan Herra käy,
ken voittikin, ket’ onni, voima suosi,
on varmaa vain: ei taiston päätä näy,
miljoonat hukkui, hurmevirrat vuosi,
Euroopan päivä mailleen ennättäy,
mut aina kulkee rauhan Herra turhaan
vedoten rakkauteen, ei veljesmurhaan.
 .
Ah, nyt jos koskaan tiedän: korkein oppi,
mi koskaan kaikunut on päällä maan,
min kuuli valtalinna, vangin koppi,
mist’ yössä kauhun vielä iloitaan,
min äänt’ on soinut minkään rinnan soppi,
min ihmiskunta tietää kuollessaan,
on kunnia, mi korkeudess’ on Herran
ja maassa rauha, hyvä tahto kerran.
 .
Translation by Rupert Moreton

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