The rooftops all veiled in snow…

Except not, because there is no snow in Finland this Christmas. Stupid climate change.

Anyway! Hello! Bet you’re surprised to see me here. I am as well. I’m fully aware that I have let this blog and poetry in general kind of… drift to the background, while I’ve been buried under work commitments. I’m not happy about this so I’m going to try hard to make time for creativity and things-other-than-work in 2017. *pinky swear*

But let’s start with a seasonal post.

Here is one of my favourite Nordic/Finnish* Christmas songs, although it doesn’t mention Christmas once. It’s about a kotitonttu** doing his rounds and pondering on an important question. I may have spent quite some time translating the lyrics into English in a way that kept the meter (almost, there are a couple of lines that still sound awkward when I try to sing them) and the rhyme (pretty pleased with this) without compromising on the meaning too much (Finnish speakers, I’d be interested in what you think!). There is at least one another English translation out there but it is a literal one with, and I wanted one that actually fitted the song, so…

* The lyrics are a translation from a Swedish poem but the melody seems to vary from country to country
**Notes on the term ‘tonttu’: The word itself is a Swedish loan and
you can read about pan-Nordic mythology here. The Finnish word is haltija, and particularly here the song is talking about the kotitonttu or kotihaltija (house gnome, house elf, house guardian) rather than the Christmas version per se. I would also recommend reading the Haltija Wiki article. For the lyrics, I decided not to translate ‘tonttu’ because everything else (elf, gnome, brownie) just wasn’t quite right.

Anyway, here is the song…

With this I’d like to wish my dearest Flist:

Happy Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah…
However you celebrate, or don’t, have a lovely mid-winter time!

The lyrics translation is under the cut!

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Lyrics Translation: Veteran’s Evening Call

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I’ve been very busy and very stressed lately, which is not conducive to creativity of any kind and I’ve mostly been feeling like a dishrag squeezed dry and left moulding in the corner. I haven’t written any poetry for ages, and I haven’t even felt like reading any, and I have been keeping away from poetry events as well due to feeling antisocial and less than creative. It’s a slump, bring on the violins.

But. I did do a lyrics translation of a Finnish song in honour of Finland’s Independence Day on the 6th of December and I thought I’d post it here for posterity if nothing else. It was quite tricky but interesting to do. I tried to keep the meter and the meaning, so it isn’t a literal translation although it is pretty damn close most of the time. I’d be most interested to hear what Finnish-speakers think of my efforts!

Veteraanin iltahuuto
(lyrics and composition © Kalervo Hämäläinen)

Rannalle himmeän lahden aurinko laskenut on.
Kutsu jo soi iltahuudon, taakka jo laskettu on.
Taattoa muista sa silloin, askel jo uupunut on.
Lapset ja lastemme lapset, teidän nyt vuoronne on.

Hoivatkaa, kohta poissa on veljet, muistakaa: Heille kallis ol’ maa.
Kertokaa lastenlapsille lauluin: Himmetä ei muistot koskaan saa!

Hymni soi holvissa hiljaa, tummana kaipuuta soi.
Aika on korjannut viljaa, sarka jo kynnetty on.
Ammoin me marssimme kahden, tulta löi taivas ja maa.
Rannoilta Äänisen lahden kelle nyt kertoa saa?

Hoivatkaa, kohta poissa on veljet, muistakaa: Heille kallis ol’ maa.
Kertokaa lastenlapsille lauluin: Himmetä ei muistot koskaan saa!

Laineissa Laatokan mahti, kahlita kenkään ei voi.
Veljet sen rantoja vahti, konsa on koittava koi?
Ylväänä Karjalan heimo tuskansa kantanut on.
Maaäiti suojaansa sulkee, vartija poissa jo on.

Hoivatkaa, kohta poissa on veljet, muistakaa: Heille kallis ol’ maa.
Kertokaa lastenlapsille lauluin: Himmetä ei muistot koskaan saa!

 

Veteran’s Evening Call
(translation © Kat Soini)

The sun has set on the shores of a dusky bay
The evening call bids to here one’s burdens lay
Remember your elders, steps grown tired and slow
Our children and children’s children, now it’s your time to go

Take care, soon part our brothers, remember: For them dear was the price that was paid
Tell your grandchildren in songs and stories: These memories must never fade!

The vaults echo with a quiet hymn, full of ache and sorrow
Time has gathered its harvest, empty now stands each furrow
Once we marched together, the earth was in fire and the sky
From the sands of Onega bay, to whom of this can I cry?

Take care, soon part our brothers, remember: For them dear was the price that was paid
Tell your grandchildren in songs and stories: These memories must never fade!

The waves of Ladoga’s might, shackles all broken and gone
Brothers kept watch on the shores, waiting for sovereign morn
Karelia’s kin has carried its pain with honour and pride
Sheltered in earth’s embrace, now rests guard and guide

Take care, soon part our brothers, remember: For them dear was the price that was paid
Tell your grandchildren in songs and stories: These memories must never fade!

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