Finland, the End of the Eighties

Rami Saari

This is real life, far from it all, here in the place
Where nothing significant ever happens, in the land
Where most tastes are bland except solitude and the seasons’ colors
Among some fundamentals of existence: plenty of sky,
Stone, moon, water and pines – above all pines,
Birches as well, but without too much sun, or without sun
Enough, here and there some good people but not the sort to be gurus
Or pals, workers devoted to their trades
Whom its strange to get close to, different to befriend.
Faithfully they do their jobs, even when the government,
Understanding its best to tiptoe, knowing that progress marches
On, keeps out Hungarians displaced from Transylvania
But grudgingly, to assuage world opinion, invites northward
Three hundred Kurdish refugees, with no inkling at all of
What will fall on its citizens’ heads, those in the forests living
Their real lives, laconic in cottages out on the islands
While the pine watch the skies, the mothers boil coffee
And in Helsinki, the distant capital, Pandora’s box swings open.

Translated from Hebrew by Vivian Eden, The 2nd International Poets’ Festival, Jerusalem, 1993

FINNISH POETRY translated by Saari to Hebrew
FINNISH PROSE translated by Saari to Hebrew
Rami Saari’s page

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