Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hyvää ystävänpäivää

This poem is very good - part of the collection of spoken Finnish folk poetry, first noted down in the 1700s. Although relatively short and even simple, as a translation job it is way beyond me because of the archaic nature of the language and the repetition and the rhythmic pattern typical of its genre.

Jos mun tuttuni tulisi,
Ennen nähtyni näkyisi,
Sille kättä käppäjäisin,
Vaikk ois käärme kämmenpäässä,
Sille suuta suikkajaisin,
Vaikk ois suu suden veressä,
Siitä kaulahan kapuisin,
Vaikk ois kalma kaulan päällä,
Vielä vierehen kävisin,
Vaikk ois vierus verta täynnä.

What it says, to cut the poetic effort altogether, is
"If the one I know were to come, the one I've seen before were in sight now, I'd take his hand even if there were a snake in it, I'd kiss his mouth even if it was covered in wolf's blood, I'd wrap my arms round his neck even if death itself was upon it, I'd lie down by his side even if his side was flowing with blood. "

So there. This has been my contribution to the "Valentine's Day" palaver, and I am posting it eleven days late. Don't get mad, get even.


Reading the Signs said...

Oh I like this. We're in sex and death territory again, I think, with a bit of religion (love is strong as death) thrown in. Perfect. I mean, why do they even bother with the "roses are red, violets are blue" stuff in Valentine cards when they could be putting this?

Why should we get mad? I am already, of course, in the English sense of the word.

actually, this one's not bad, I suppose said...

Why should we get mad - well you know. It's just a bit irksome to have all the heart-shaped balloons etc bollocks all over the place (being all subtle with my opinions here, as you can tell, can't you, clever Signreader that you are) because love is more about a bloody ripperoo than prissy prettiness, to me (although I have nothing against flowers as such) (rather like them, actually) (and "don't get angry, get even" just doesn't seem to have the same ring to it, even though I'm not fond of Americanisms).

I like this poem too - an awful lot. There is an English translation (quite acclaimed, too) of it, but unfortunately the translator dude has chosen a version I don't like so much (as all old, verbally-passed-on poetry, there are a good few versions, and the one I have quoted here is the fundamental, no-frills one - my favourite, as you may guess), which omits the loved one's face being covered in wolf's blood and so on. Why, for the sake of love itself? I find it such a startlingly strong image and a definitive description of madly-passionate abandonment of one's self in love - here's the guy all covered in snakes, and wolf's blood (and it would be wolf's - there's just something hotter about that than, say, bear's blood, both of which of course flow in ample rivers all over ancient Finland and its men), and death itself is to be found sitting upon his neck bones, but she just doesn't care, she throws herself upon him anyway (NB foreign-johnny men who may read this - beware of Finnish women, their passions are pretty much unstoppable).

I have a feeling, Signs, that we're not about to overturn the "roses are red" department with "I'd jump you even if you were covered in wolf's blood" - but I'm glad it speaks to you as well. It's nice not to be alone in the mad corner. Mwah!

Reading the Signs said...

Yes, to prettify a poem like this would miss the point entirely. But is it madly passionate abandonment of oneself that is expressed, or a coming in to the ground, the truth of one's essential being in relation to passionate love? Carol Ann Duffy kind of comes close to this a couple of times in Rapture:

If you were made of air, if you were air,
if you were made of water, if you were water,
if you were made of fire, if you were fire,
if you were made of stone, if you were stone,
or if you were none of these, but really death,
the answer is yes, yes.

It is a deeply flawed collection, but for these moments I am glad it won the prize.

All the best people are in the mad corner with you.

guuey, for god's sake. No, I am bloody not, ok? Me and Anna appreciate words that tell it like it is. (Just putting the WVLs in their place, I think I've sorted them now).

But Why? said...

Hmmm... How unusual.

I think my version would go something like this:

"If the one I know were to come, the one I've seen before were in sight now, I'd avoid his hand if there were a snake in it (do you think I'd be sufficiently impassioned to risk a snake bite? It might be venomous...), I'd get him to wash properly before kissing his mouth if it was covered in wolf's blood (and I might also ask him why he's got his mouth covered in wolf's blood, by the way - most unusual behaviour, and not healthy at all), I'd wrap my arms round his neck to speed death itself upon it (as the only possible explanation for his bizarre behaviour in presenting me with snakes and continuing to bathe in wolf's blood would be that he was being unfaithful with a decidedly odd other), I'd lie down by his side even if his side was flowing with blood (apparently bathing in blood comes highly recommended, and after all that peculiarness, I could do with a bit of rest and relaxation)."

I never did get the hang of Valentine's day...

Anna MR said...

That, Signs, is a very good point indeed - is it abandonment in love, or a grounded discovery of one's final, inner self? - and one that I hadn't actually really considered (which is why you're the poet, I'm the ailing blogger). I've been gnawing it over in my mind for quite some time today, taking pleasure in the depth of the change in interpretation the seemingly simple change of focal point brings, and, well, just as I was about to say yes, you are right, I think, Dr ? came in and sort of proved my point too, and I found myself saying it's both, it's both (and that wasn't a cop-out, that was a voyage of discovery coming to completion). You see, Signs, what I think is that a person may find it a description of a total abandonment of oneself in love - if one is the person who, upon introspection, would discover oneself to be the sort of person whose love is of this type.

See what I mean? Not just a confession of love, but also a statement of who one is. Both, not one or the other. Or am I just mad (well yes yes yes, but you know what I mean)?

Thank you also for bringing in the Carol Ann Duffy poem. It's good, and yes, very reminiscent. I remember her winning a prize while I was doing the tropics thing, and finding one of her recent collections at the local library (miracle, miracle), but I cannot remember if it was Rapture. I do, however, remember reading it and thinking oh, I'm getting annoyed with some of this...I think it was a collection where (at least in one section) famous historical women would tell of their loves. Or something. Whatever. That poem you brought was good, regardless.

(And yes, give those bloody WVLs a seeing-to. Guuey indeed. We'll give them guuey, eh girlfriend.)


Anna MR said...

Ah, But Mutta, hello and welcome back (and for God's sakes, girl, give me some credit for the single most fucking complicated anagram I have ever created in my life, which I gave you down there at that other thread. In other words, Mutta - praise me, please, because first I near-killed myself laughing over it and then worried myself silly that I'd offended you. No, I didn't (the latter) - but I was sorely, achingly disappointed as it seemed my genius had failed to amuse you. PRAISE ME . Please). Um, yes, so welcome back. Where the hell was I? I'd better start from the top...

Dr ?, I see where you come from, as a guy smeared in blood would be an off-putting thing for most people, I guess. However. I know for a fact there have been a handful of people - two, maybe three - in my life whom I have recognised from the crowd, as it were, and wanted with a wolf's-blood-encompassing totality. Furthermore I know I recognise in myself the desire for a total experience, which has led me to attempt to create, as it were, the experience where one wasn't to be had.

What can I say. This is potentially getting to the point where I'll toss and turn sleepless later on, unable to delete (because of a firm policy decision), both because of the level of personal revelation I'm entering here and the depths of stupidity I'm having to explore in my attempt to express myself. Let me just, in closing, say that it's lovely to see you and that you're most welcome here, even if you like your dudes freshly showered and sans blood.


Reading the Signs said...

I think the Doctor's version is brill, Anna and can take its place with honour beside the original. Jane Austen would have approved and the speaker of these words would definitely have got her man whereas we moon-riddled wolverines would be howling in the woods (sorry, my inner landscape breaking through) - or at any rate locked up for our own safety. Yes, well I wouldn't have cut it as a J.A. heroine.

The Duffy book that won the T.S. Eliot prize was Rapture. Surprised everyone.

The poetry (including link) you have brought here reminds me of the Irish love laments. If you haven't read it, Take a look at Donal Og, the version translated by Lady Augusta Gregory. Has a different kind to bite to it, I think, but is kindred.

But Why? said...

Ah, Anna, never fear - it takes much more than a sexually-charged simian anagram to offend me. I would have praised your genius, but I naturally thought you had used an anagram application. Knowing now that you haven't, well, frankly, I am speechless and rather flabbergasted. Yes. Really. Shocked, too. Astounded. Amazed. Why? When you could just have rearranged a few letters and callen me "Tub". I, well, I mean... it's beyond flabbergasting, it is quite superb.

Regardless, I really must maintain my stance that it's entirely acceptable to insist on potential partners being free from wolf blood and not wielding asps.

And as I'm no longer sure what I'm talking about (personal hygiene?), I think I'll stop there.

Tub xx

P.S. Is a policy of non-deletion compatible with the consumption of alcoholic beverages?

more on love and death and wolves said...

Signs, I was not aware of that poem till now and by God, I likes it. Thank you for bringing it here. In return, I need to make you aware of an all-time favourite read of mine - Sudenmorsian, The Wolf's Bride, by a Finnish writer Aino Kallas. I have a hunch it might speak to you... a classic story of a young forester's wife becoming a werewolf through love. Not long, not a wholly unusual storyline, but written so it burns from the inside. The writer herself was a married mother of several (in the 1920's, NB) and yet passionately, criminally, all-encompassingly in love with a fellow poet. I know it has been translated into English and according to my research reprinted quite recently [beginning of reasearch results - Aino Kallas (1928). The Wolf's Bride. In: Three Novels (1975). Translated by Alex Matson. Helsinki: Otava. The Wolf's Bride has recently been re-released in an anthology of Finnish fantasy literature, entitled The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy. This book is still available, among other places at Amazon UK - end of research results ], but as I don't know about availability and, well, just as a special treat for you (to make up for the lack of anagrams here), I shall attempt a snippet here. It is written to emulate a chronicle-style from the Middle Ages, so as a translation job it's plenty difficult. In the snippet Aalo, our lupine heroine, has finally succumbed to the (third) call of the wolves in the forest, on Midsummer Night, and has been running through the forest with their leader, in her brand-new wolf-being...

So the wind stirred the tops of the fir trees, sighed its sigh, and tired again.

Then the wolf with whom Aalo had been running suddenly changed his shape.

Throughout the forest blew a living and strong breath like of giant lungs, and the whole forest shuddered from the treading of invisible feet, and great wings whose width no mortal has yet measured, hid the forest in a darkness more secret than that found under the oldest spruce trees.

For this wolf was Diabolus sylvarum or the Spirit of the Forest, although he only revealed his true form now.

And thus a rapture which knows no bounds and which fits not into mortals came over Aalo, and an overflowing joy was poured into her soul, for which joy there can be no expression in human tongue due to the wondrous and bountiful happiness it gives for the thirsty to drink from. For at this moment she was as one with the Spirit of the Forest, that powerful Daemon who had her in his wolf-shape chosen and made his own, and all borders fell away from between them so they melted into one another as is the union of two drops of dew, so that no-one can tell one from the other.

And she was diffused into the rush of the wind in the fir trees, was squeezed as golden sap from the red side of pine trees, disappeared into being the green moisture of moss, for she belonged to the Diabolus sylvarum and was the prey of Satan. ...

Anna MR said...

Robot Duct, Why? - hello and super pleased to be so gloriously stroked upon my ego by your good self. Thank you. I have (only recently, as it happens) been made aware of such aberrations (anagram applications) but assure you every single one of my anagrams is lovingly hand-crafted to suit the character, past history, etc of the recipient, and thus (if I may say so myself - and I may) are infinitely more precious and personal than any machine-generated cleverness. Yes indeedly.

My dear Tohtori, you are heartily welcome to prefer your companions washed and sans vipers. It is so late at night now I hardly know what I'm saying anymore, but I do know I like people to be clean, too (although the (clean, recent) sweat of a man who's been at some manly manful task - chopping a fallen tree, painting-decorating, that sort of masculine activity at which I'm totally hopeless - can be a frightfully attractive thing). So as I see it, we have solved this threateningly-looming difference of opinion and reduced it to a mere quibble only, which is why they should always employ scientists and Scandinavians to run peace talks because no stalemate can resist the combined onslaught of clean, logical reason and total and complete bollocks.

On that high note, I bid you goodnight for now, Mutta-tohtori...


Reading the Signs said...

Blimey. I will have to look into this, do a bit of research. Do all lovers wish to be obliterated? This loss of self arises again and again - a primal desire for boundaries between "I and thou" to be gone, and the self returns to the place from whence it came. Or takes on another shape entirely. Well now. Time for me to be completedly mad and have a cup of tea, toast and marmite.

mohvvv - more verevolf verse?

But Why? said...

Well, what can I say? I am heartily pleased to have repaired the damage caused by my non-understanding of the depth of blood, sweat and tears poured into your labours of letter-juggling. And you are quite right, they are more meaningful and astounding than any amount of brute-forcing could ever be. (Thinks: Phew - that was a close one!)

Now then, Robot Duct, huh? I like it. I can just imagine them all, tumbling off their production line into The Thames via some duct-type thing. Just as well they'd sink, otherwise they'd cause a serious hazard out on the water.

But yes, it is a quite fantastic and genius idea to have all diplomacy carried out by scientists and Scandinavians. Or perhaps go one better and have it all carried out by Scandinavian scientists? Mind you, the last time I met a Scandinavian scientist, I was terrified into making smalltalk about her research. I hadn't the foggiest what it was about (something aerosoly and atmospheric, but that's about as far as I got), and then she launched into a tirade about glass ceilings. Twenty minutes later, I found myself feeling responsible and apologising for the apparent existence of the said glass ceiling, wondering whether it did in fact exist, or whether the lady in question was just a little bit off her rocker, and possibly bitter.

So, provided you can tee that woman up with whatever outcomes you need, I'm sure she'll fix the problems of the world in a few short poster sessions.

Anna MR said...

Yes, Signs - it does seem obliteration of self is an essential part of loverdom. We have touched upon these issues off and on, as I'm sure you recall - but naturally it is a subject quite inexhaustible.

I am wondering whether the Freudian sex brigade (which we also touched upon elsewhere, and only recently. We are so clever - NB any blog-based Fringe-scriptwriters) would interpret this obliteration will as a wish to return to the womb, or as a death wish, or both? I myself would still say it's about the desire to lose the grinding awareness of self. Maybe. I don't know.

I like "completedly mad". There is a satisfying sense of madness and completion there.

Anna MR said...

Oh, Dr ?. She sounds out of this world. Quick, quick, get her to Kenya, the Gaza Strip, Kosovo, everywhere. I reckon she is the hope of mankind, terrifying everyone on the war foot into an apologetic laying-down of arms. Go to it, But, make way for the Scandinavian Scientistess, for you shall be known as But the Baptist and shall make way for the one who comes after you, and we shall have peace on earth. Verily.

(I have known a Scandinavian lady scientist quite well. She is totally kooky (hello, Dr DH, if you still visit), too.)

But as for glass ceilings, wouldn't they be lovely? I mean, at least for me (I live on the top floor) - even if they didn't have the good sense to fit a glass roof in my building as well, at least I'd get to watch the bats and pidgeons and what-nots in the attic. But if they did install a glass roof too - man, that would be beautiful. Imagine the amount of light, and how interesting rain would look when it splatted on my beautiful glass ceiling.

I'd have lots of rugs, though, But. Lots.

I'd better go. I sound mad. Laters, Robot Duct...

But Why? said...

Why the rugs?

But, yes, a glass ceiling and roof would be lovely...

I wouldn't want a glass ceiling in my bedroom, though, as that would allow me to see into the kitchen whilst lying in bed, and that's a very bad plan. It would also allow any passengers armed with powerful binoculars on the approach to Heathrow airport to see through my kitchen to my bedroom, which again is something I'd rather prevent.

I did live in a building with a partial glass roof for a year as a student. It was the most superb building for watching storms in.

Yes, on consideration, I'd choose a glass ceiling and roof. I'd just install a curtain in the horizontal plane to shield me from the kitchen and holidaymakers. I'll ask that diplomatically gifted scientist I met if she has any bright ideas on solving the gravity-impeded curtain problem...

Turbot Cod xx

Anna MR said...

Dowry to Butch - yes, rugs. I shall disclose a personal detail and tell you I live on the tenth floor. Never mind your worry that strangers could look at you in bed from above - my neighbours could look at me brushing my teeth from below, if I didn't have an ample amount of rugs. Because naturally, you see, here in Scandinavia we would allow everyone in the building the glass ceilings, being as we are, an egalitarian society. Yes.

I daren't even read the time stamp under your comment I'm so late in responding. My apologies are both huge and heartfelt.

Reading the Signs said...

"l'amore è più di una Sanguinosa ripperoo"

The perfect introduction to one's autobiography, perhaps?

I am glad that your apologies to the good Doctor are huge and heartfelt, even if you do disclose information ("I live on the tenth floor") that I would rather not hear because as far as I am concerned you live in an igloo. And a tenth floor igloo is just a stretch too far for the imagination.

But Why? said...

Well, step-tu foam fury and hasten you to IKEA, home of all the world's known rugs and soft furnishings to protect your tenth floor igloo abode from the prying eyes of you altitudinously-challenged neighbours, all intent on taking a peek into the secret world of your dental hygiene.

Really. I think you should. Laws may be passed now, today, leaving you in your neighbour's line of sight just as soon as they can find a builder to replace their ceiling and your floor with a less obtrusive, transparent material.

There's no time like the present. Get to it...

wjcjwzdh: Muttered under his breath by the man who fixed the fridge...

Ms Sanguinosa Ripperoo said...

Signs, by Jove, you've got it - you've managed to find the sentence that can now stand forevermore as my motto, my condensed wisdom, me to a T, my life in a nutshell, my biggest load of bollocks ever in a neatly Italian wrapping.

Thank you, thank you, dear heart. And rest assured, I'll sort you out (sooner or later) with photographic evidence as to how this little igloo of mine actually stands on the balcony of the tenth-floor flat, in which lives my alter ego, the one who has to go to work and be all bespectacled and respectable (not really - I only wear my glasses when I'm going to bed. But it's still a good tongue-twister). The Clark Kent incarnation, in other words, whom I swiftly derobe myself of and abandon in the flat whilst I hasten to have fun with the Real Crowd in the Igloo World. Do please note the glow which emanates from my wee igloo... that'll be the blogtime conversations, lighting up the dark darkness of the planet. Indeedly and verily, yes.

Anna MR said...

Nah, come to think of it, But (and may I in the same breath express my impressedness at having you at the anagram compulsion nightmare now too, and my regret for arriving empty-handed in that department now. It's late, okay, Butkins? My brain is fried), I think a glass ceiling and/or floor is so passée. What I now want is under my signature link (especially the one with the wee swimming men in it whom escape your touch. Hours of fun, I reckon, frightening them to bits (bits, bits, geddit, geddit). Mind you, what with you being clever and all, you probably designed the damned thing. Ah well.)

Reading the Signs said...

Just spotted this. Whatever it is, it's wonderful - your work?

Anna MR said...

Ha. Finally, Signs - I've been having a totally dreadful time fighting the need to tell you somewhere straight up that I've left you this picture, which would be completely against the cool spirit of things. Phew. It has been agony, I can tell you.

Yes, my work, and I'm delighted you approve. It is a traditional lumilyhty, snow lantern, when it's not being my pixel igloo.

But Why? said...

Well, to sum up, feta fry, How utterly amazing! I want one. Lots, in fact. On every conceivable surface. but perhaps not the ceiling. They may be wasted there.

They may also drive me insane after a few short minutes.

Yes, on second thoughts, I think perhaps I should limit myself only to visiting abodes in which these are installed. I may otherwise go quite, quite loopy. A magnificent find, nonetheless. I congratulate you wholeheartedly.

interior designs 'r' us said...

Hello, hello, Worthy Cod-But. I'm pleased to find not only do you hammer out a fine anagram but also have an eye for what's truly pleasing in interior decoration. What with your busy yuppie lifestyle, though, I understand you would prefer a calming something in your own home (and then go wild at your friend's places with the product we discussed previously). For a truly zen experience - a thing of beauty to take your mind off menial matters - try the item I bring you here. At a mere 7250.00GBP + shipping, I think you'll find it's a right bargain for a professional such as your good self.

Again, apologies for the total lateness of my reply here. Hoping you are well.

But Why? said...

Ah, now that is very beautiful interior design, but I must ask - what is wrong with a fish tank and a plywood top??

The only reservation I have with fishy furniture is that it would remind me of too many student nights spent at balti houses on the Bristol Road trying to make friends with the fish which lived in the walls and the floors. For some reason, it seemed a perfectly rational thing to do at the time - I suspect the "bring your own" alcohol policy which most of these places operated may have had something to do with it.

Nowadays, I'm glad to get high on a mug of tea and breakfast at the cafe by the rowing clubs. It's a wild, wild yuppie life I lead...

Apologies for the lack of anagram, I feel all jumbled out by a busy morning spent shopping in the nearly-haute-couture establishments of Chesterfield, and admiring the famous crooked spire.

By the way, should Kindablue ever head your way, I would remove the stove from him before he enters your igloo. He appears to be blaming you for the recent weather Merseyside has suffered. Personally, I feel that no weather is too bad for Merseyside, and that wonderous though you are, you are no more responsible for KindaBlue's bad weather than I am for the snow suffered by poor old(?) Signs.

I must go now and retrieve my car from the lake which has formed outside following the recent downpour. I'm going to blame KindaBlue for that...

I've solved the dust problem for you, too said...

Oh, But, row thy cod - of course I forgive you the lack of anagram. As long as you promise to forgive me the fact it's taken me longer than I'm prepared to look to come up with one for you. However, I am also proposing a solution to that problem with dust and books - and also the bother it is to carry them (the books - not suggesting you take your dust with you) whenever you move house. Yes.

I don't know KindaBlue at all, so it would at first glance seem rather preposterous that he'd blame me for the Merseyside weather. However, only the other day Signs herself pronounced the snowy weather she's been having to be all my fault (prompted by me, granted, but regardless). So it may well be I have unwittingly effected flakeyness on Kindablue too. Ah well, he should be grateful. The inhabitants of the Bikini Atoll went and danced in the nuclear fallout, so I'm told, for they thought it snow. I reckon they exhibited better appreciation of worse stuff than the snow-hacked Scouser. But there you are. There's no pleasing some people.

But Why? said...

Oh, how superb!

But, how am I supposed to read them all? Then again, I tend not to get through my reading pile anyhow, so perhaps this is the best solution, after all. Yes, you are quite the genius, Anna.

Now, go off tu yum repast. 'Tis tea-time after all.

Slowly but surely, the blog hostess returns said...

Hmmm. I seem to have left you to your tea for a fortnight, non-anagrammatic But. Sorry about that (at least you had some books to keep you company). However. Next time you get caught on an older blog thread for some while, make sure you are equipped with one of these. Provides comfort for those long hours spent poring over the contents of the library, and personal hygiene matters are solvable most conveniently too.

The lack of anagram I come not bearing is beginning to piss me off. I'll need to publish and leave before I start working one out and it takes me another fortnight.