Onni by Lauri Viita translated into English by Lilli Erola


Thank you for giving me life, Mum.

I formed a few lines of letters today.

That’s all. I am happy.

There was once a group of friends

And a youth. Everything was alive.

Each day was like the Creation

still continued. Now

I am alone, a shadow of the former,

Rotten to the core by memories

A decaying, falling tree,

Bit by bit approaching the waste of the Earth, frustration.

Spring scenes: the bay,

a sauna by the lake, and a boat

and heat, the scent of the fir wood

flowers, flashing fish,

a child, some children, the children

and an old happy echo:

Dad, hey!

I made a song from a butterfly

and exhaled. It flew.

Warmth sloshed against warmth,

Spilled over. We went quiet.

When and where? Of course we didn’t know.

It was just the two of us and we loved.

A light flares in your window

You are back home, oh

I’ve been yearning for you there

And the North Star is in its place.

You stay to watch it light up your face.

The flow continues. From here to where?

You didn’t last a summer over here.

I only saw the stars appear,

Where the flower meadow is fair.

I got what I wanted; love,

and even still: am I happy.

What am I waiting for?

Every time someone knocks on my door,

my mind is flooded with delight.

Now what am I waiting for.

A thin path from the door to the garden overgrows.

In front of the window

There stands a dead apple tree

A backpack hangs from the nail by the door

A bird nest within.

When I am dead, when I have died,

Summer continues. Summer.


Lauri Viita (1916-1965)

Translated from Finnish by Lilli Eerola

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