Cinder Darkens (Tuhka tummuu), Eino Leino

This is from the collection Halla (“Frost”), published in 1908. It is deceptively simple – the last stanza presented a particular challenge. A rough gloss would be something like this. “More blessed at night to be alone / than to be alone (together) in the sun”. “Yksin” means the state of being alone by oneself; “kaksin” means the state of being alone with another person – possibly a concept uniquely understood by the Finns…

Die the embers, darkens cinder,
Soon your stove will have no tinder.

So, begins your desperation,
Thoughts of campfire – outcast’s station.

Thought of youthful hope makes sadder,
Cold now, like the hole of adder.

Many holy dreams now waken,
Quagmire claims their sum forsaken.

On the window falls the gloaming,
There the void begins its roaming.

Still the final flames are flaring:
Joy of lonely heart’s despairing.

Holier is the night’s seclusion
Than our daylight’s grim reclusion.


Hiilos hiipuu, tuhka tummuu,
kohta kotiliesi sammuu.

Aatos käy niin autioksi,
mieli mieron nuotioksi.

Muistuu moni nuori toivo,
kylmä nyt kuin kyinen kaivo.

Herää moni haave heljä,
summa nyt kuin suossa möljä.

Lankee ilta ikkunalle,
tyhjyys tyhjän akkunalle.

Liekkuu vielä viime loimu:
yksinäisen rinnan riemu.

Autuaampi yössä yksin
kuin on auringossa kaksin.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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