The Human Being (Ihminen), L. Onerva

L Onerva

L. Onerva (1882-1972, born Hilja Onerva Lehtinen) led a long and eventful life. Her first marriage failed; she had a passionate affair with Eino Leino; she married the composer Leevi Madetoja (1887-1947); and she battled with alcoholism to live into her ninetieth year. Her poetry caused considerable controversy – she was a defender of the right to personal autonomy, and she challenged conventional morality.

This poem expresses something of her rebellious spirit.

What am I? I am a comet
in Creator’s night infernal,
dusty grain of far-flung matter
of his labour’s task eternal.

Glow upon my moment’s fleeting –
that is all I want to furnish,
song of praise for my heart’s beating –
My desire to sing I’ll burnish.

Yes, I want to sing and shining
even end as I once started
in a blinking eyelid’s moment
when a flash across sky darted!

Flaming heart that once pulsated,
sun apart that once was burning,
boundless love was what I wanted –
beauty’s gift, my ardent yearning.

Space deserted, now surrender
to the light of my star’s beating!
my desire to sing I’ll burnish –
song of praise for life repeating.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Mikä olen? Tähdenlento
Luojan ikuisessa yössä,
tomujyvä aavan aineen
lakkaamattomassa työssä.

Mutta sentään! Tahdon antaa
hehkun hetkelleni tälle,
tahdon loistaa, tahdon laulaa
kiitoslaulun elämälle.

Tahdon laulaa: mitä siitä,
jos ma lopuin, kussa aloin,
mutta silmänräpäyksen
valokaarin yössä paloin!

Hetken sykin, liekkisydän,
aurinkona maailman oman:
tunsin kauneuden kaipuun,
rakkauden rajattoman.

Alistukaa, avaruudet,
pienen tähden välkynnälle!
Tahdon loistaa, tahdon laulaa
kiitoslaulun elämälle.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

 

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