Hymn to the Fire (Hymni tulelle), Eino Leino


An early poem, from the collection Pyhä kevät (“The Sacred Spring”), published in 1901.

Let fire him serve to whom the fire gives birth;
in earth decay whoever’s born of earth.
But one who would attain the heavens’ level
in echoing harp-song finds his cause to revel.

What are we? Only ashes then and dust?
Not quite: at dusk it lifts from soil in gust.
To dust you shall return, you can be certain
But you have time to burn till falls the curtain.

What burns? But human matter. What consumes?
God, the eternal fire, the soul exhumes.
To be the coal is happy human portion,
a deeply mined long flint-struck dream’s absorption,

kindling the embers, labour and the strife,
as Maker calls, so seize we must sun’s life,
bring to pass the many generations’ dream
that sleep of fathers past has given gleam.

The harvest time is short for each and all.
So let us give ourselves to blazing thrall,
let the ascent to heaven be our story!
Though earth is fixed, the soul is bound for glory.


Ken tulta on, se tulta palvelkoon.
Ken maata on, se maahan maatukoon.
Mut kuka tahtoo nousta taivahille,
näin kaikuu kannelniekan virsi sille:

Mit’ oomme me? Vain tuhkaa, tomua?
Ei aivan: Aatos nousee mullasta.
On kohtalosi kerran tuhkaks tulla,
mut siihen ast’ on aika palaa sulla.

Mi palaa? Aine. Mikä polttaa sen?
Jumala, henki, tuli ikuinen.
On ihmis-onni olla kivihiiltä,
maan uumenissa unta pitkää piiltä,

herätä hehkuun, työhön, taisteloon,
kun Luoja kutsuu, luottaa aurinkoon,
toteuttaa vuosisatain unelmat,
joit’ uinuneet on isät harmajat.

On elon aika lyhyt kullakin.
Siis palakaamme lieskoin leimuvin,
tulessa kohotkaamme korkealle!
Maa maahan jää, mut henki taivahalle.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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