Elegia by Eino Leino -Eino Leinon Elegia

It is unvbelievably nice to be surrounded by my own culture. I know it may sound lame but there is so much ”Finnishness” as I call it that cannot be explained to people who are not born and raised in Finland. Some of these things are music, poems and literature. Despite this I will try today, explain a bit of it and share something with you.

Last night I watched ”Vain Elämää” (trans. ”Life Only”)  series on TV with my sister. It is an amazing concept. The series has seven Finnish musicians appearing in it. They spend the whole day and evening  together and each episode concentrates on the music of one of the artists. They talk about their feelings, the musicians explain how they ended up writing the songs, what they experienced in their lives at that time. It is touching, the songs open up so differently when you hear the stories. Some songs that you throught would happy songs were written in the middle of anxiety, fear and desperation. It is also so impressive to see different versions of the classic songs that are familiar to every Finn. Sometimes the songs are like different songs as they are intepreted so differently from the orginal. I have had tears in my eyes when watching the episodes. Particularly shaking was the episode where the poem from my most formative years of high school was intepreted. The song is based on the poem of Eino Leino, famous Finnish poet. Here is the new version of the song intepreted by Paula Vesala from PMMP. Here is the original song intepreted by Vesa-Matti Loiri.

 I loved Finnish language lessons, literature and writing. I guess I went through the period in my life when I was reading books every minute of my life and I was dwelling in the emotions, writing was to express them. I still remember sitting in the class room back in 2002. My mother language teacher was a musician herself, she was in the music group called ”Kitkerät Neitsyet” (trans. ”Bitter Virgins”). It was cold and dark winter day. She was wearing her cool looking leather trousers, she had black hair, strong black eye make-up and purple cardigan as usual. She stood there in front of the class room and started to pronounce this poem called Elegia. It describes youth and how it appears to you when you are older and you look back in time. I was young then but I was still able to imagine how this text would touch and feel when you are older and reading it. Like Finnish poems typically it is full of sadness, simplicity and melancholy but it is so lyric that later on it was written as a song too. I wanted to share this text with you. Finnish poetry is pretty rough.

Youth fading like a rolling stream,

strings of gray push from the golden beam.

In vain, O in vain try I and seize the hour;

no joy in friends, my wine’s going sour.

 

Gone are my proud days of will.

My spirit burned; now it lies still.

From all vales I rose; O why see I not another mile?

My heart’s wish: less pain but a humble while.

 

O true I know, peace there is deep in the mold.

The path of a seeker did no mellow rest hold;

stormy clouds cloaking the sun going down,

a fainting red burns like the deepest wound.

 

Gone in the sea is the blossom of my dreams.

I’m a penniless man; dear the price of the song, it seems.

My all I gave, but a while did I brave,

a grave heart did the gold of my dreams pay.

 

Tired I am, O my heart to the depths!

More it is than a man and he takes?

Or I’m of them with the will and no more?

All winnings void, yield an undying throe.

 

So for none did I bear all trouble and ail,

broken chains, burnt dearest ships of sail?

Now I did fall when the demand was my all?

Freezing to ice, scarred to answer the call?

 

Hopeless the struggle to the divine gate,

heavenly song to its child coming too late.

Queen the winter tears me down with these quills.

In the quiet of the gorge this dying beast stills

(Finnish original by Eino Leino)

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Rakastan ”Vain Elämää” sarjaa. Konsepti on oivallinen. On uskomatonta kuinka musiikki voi aueta uudella tavalla, kun kuulee tarinan laulun synnystä. Itselleni yksi koskettavimpia kappaleita sarjassa on ollut Vesa-Matti Loirin alkuperäinen tulkinta Eino leinon runosta Elegia. Se oli yksi nuoruusvuosieni koskettavimmista kirjallisista teksteistä. Kun kuulin Paula Vesala version kyseisestä kappaleesta kylmät väreet kulkivat ihoani pitkin. Muistan yhä kuunnelleeni alkuperäistä versiota toistolla ollessani 18-vuotias ja tunnelmoidessani nuoruutta ja sen katoavaisuutta. Rakastin  äidinkieltä ja kirjallisuutta koulussa. Opettajani kuului ”Kitkerät Neitsyet” yhtyeeseen ja oli melkoinen taiteilija sielu. Muistan yhä, kun eräällä tunnilla pimeänä talvipäivänä hän lausui luokan edessä Eino Leinon Elegia, jota seurasi hiljaisuus. Eihän nuoruutta voisi koskettavammin juuri kuvata.

Haihtuvi nuoruus niinkuin vierivä virta.

Langat jo harmaat lyö elon kultainen pirta.

Turhaan, oi turhaa tartun ma hetkehen kiini,

riemua ei suo rattoisa seura, ei viini.

 

Häipyvät taakse tahtoni ylpeät päivät.

Henkeni hurmat ammoin jo jälkehen jäivät.

Notkosta nousin. Taasko on painua tieni?

Toivoni ainoo: tuskaton tuokio pieni.

 

Tiedän ma: rauha mulle on mullassa suotu.

Etsijän tielle ei lepo lempeä luotu,

pohjoinen puhuu, myrskyhyn aurinko vaipuu,

jää punajuova: kauneuden voimaton kaipuu.

 

Upposi mereen unteni kukkivat kunnaat.

Mies olen köyhä: kallit on laulujen lunnaat.

Kaikkeni annoin, hetken ma heilua jaksoin,

haavehen kullat mieleni murheella maksoin.

 

Uupunut olen, ah, sydänjuurihin saakka!

Liikaako lienee pantukin paatinen taakka?

Tai olen niitä, joilla on tahto, ei voima?

Voittoni tyhä, työn tulos tuntoni soima.

 

Siis oli suotta kestetyt, vaikeat vaivat,

katkotut kahleet, poltetut, rakkahat laivat?

Nytkö ma kaaduin, kun oli kaikkeni tarpeen?

Jähmetyn jääksi, kun meni haavani arpeen.

 

Toivoton taisto taivaan valtoja vastaan!

Kaikuvi kannel; lohduta laulu ei lastaan.

Hallatar haastaa, soi sävel sortuvin siivin.

Rotkoni rauhaan kuin peto kuoleva hiivin.

(Eino Leino)

Five people I admire – Viisi ihailemaani ihmistä

I did artistic gymnastic all my childhood and youngster days. Whilst other kids were catching up after school or going to house parties I was in the trainings and prepared for competitions. I just loved gymnastics. As my mother put it she tried to take me to go to some dancing lessons but the only place where my eyes where truly sparkling was the gymnastics training. My biggest idol of that time (90s) was  Shannon Miller, an American, 1996 Atlanta Olympic games beam gold medalist. I watched her performance on VHS in repeat and I had to have the similar fringe.

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At the same time as the gymnastics filled my life I fell in love with Queen music and I have to say until these days Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen is still on the top of my list of people who I admire. As one of the first things in London was to go to see Freddie Mercury’s Garden Lodge house in Kensington.

freddie mercury

During the university years I went through a philosophy phase. I sold my soul to French existentialists and my student book shelf got new additions from authors like Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir. The one that mostly appealed to me was De Beauvoir. I read the whole series of biography she wrote and I booked my first trip to Paris just to walk on the streets she walked and visit the restaurants where she used to dine. I adored the life style of Sartre and Beauvoir and wanted to be one of those philosophy students back in 1930s Sorbonne, drinking wine, eating fois gras on baguettes, smoking cigarettes and enjoying decadent life style. The book ”The Second Sex” is still a cult work and a feminist classic. De Beuvoir is admittedly one of the most genius thinkers of 20th century. I love to quote her saying ”women are made weak by encouraging them to wear high heels as they cannot run and escape” or ”women’s independence relies on their financial independence”. Well, as much as I still admire her, I have to admit that I wear high heels every day and as being a housewife at the moment I live with the pocket money I get from my husband. There goes all the great feminist ideals that I once so furiously advocated.

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What comes to authors one of my favourites is Oscar Wilde. I love her irony, sarcasm and the richness of his English language. I admire how he plays with words and says things that everyone thinks but cannot dare to say. In London we went to see one of his theatre pieces called ” An Ideal Husband”. It was better than I could have ever dreamed of!

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Time goes by and I notice that the older I get the fewer people I genuinely admire. I guess that is due to a fact that as an adult you start realising that they are only human beings and their life is sometimes as ordinary as your own.

If I should mention a person who I currently admire purely based on his talent, it has to be Will I Am. I think he is a genius as a producer. He has an eye to not only what sells but what is entertaining, grooving and compelling. View the link of his recent production for Voice UK that he created in no time. Only a really talented person can put together such a show in a week.

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Bang Bang Voice UK -Leah and Will I am