Paavo Haavikko
Translated by Anselm Hollo
from The Winter Palace

The Eighth Poem

This tree, standing here
In the middle of the plain:
How can I bring it down
When it has to be sung down,
And I have no voice?

It is one of the beings
Who slept with a woman that was barely a virgin,
Shady slit, Aphrodite, meeting-place,
Origin of tales spreading far and wide;
But it is all
A dream.

Be silent, and I shall come through the gates to meet you
When the roses push up through the cinders.

I am moving away,
Leaving my place which was
Between the world of things and myself
Whom I don't want to meet:
To meet a grey man who is the sound of his steps on the
       road. . .
And who wouldn't be silent here, under the fir-trees
Where the treetop is hidden in clouds?

This is descriptive, and everything is as usual,
Many times have I tried, no luck,
Against the wild force
Of equilibrium,
Pulling the tree
Up into the cloud,
Parting the grass like hair. . .
I suppose it is autumn.
I sit here, polishing my coin;
It will grow mouldy and stink, whatever I do.
A slow child, leading myself by the hand
Toward myself who is coming to meet me.
I want to have my say,
Especially since this isn't worth all the trouble,
I hardly get my own back;
But here, I am fully in power,
The tree in the cloud's, and man, in woman's power. . .
And it fell silent, the greedy poem,
It swallowed up much in its silence
As I go on walking towards myself and am here,
A walking plant,
A small step
And a childless soul.

Fear is to be feared,
Most of all,
But I let it go, and how it did scream,
Stung by the branches,
Hopping on one foot, a heron
It jumped about in the yard, a heron, why?
The heron can't take the cold, it cried for the trees to

And here, the few lines
That were to have been a catalogue:

Round table-top, marble, one leg, cast-iron, nicely
        bronzed –
Whatever, a list, of anything, what I wanted and didn't
But I am now leaving this poem,
Why should I try to write them, am I Musset?

O, Great Satan,
Take this perforated soul
All I want in exchange
Is a little oakum to make me look whole again
This non-commercial world makes me ill at ease,
I promise you this sieve, let me sail away

Old man, spirit of light,
Always full of ideas, O hands filled with torches:
Don't hold this impertinent offer against me,
Though it reminded us of the past:
You thought lucre was filthy, and you ought to know.

But Prince, allow me to depart,
I was one of your men, you can afford to let me go,
Don't you have organs appearing with much greater
I promise, I'll be your envoy, elsewhere.

I know you don't care for money, I know
You want all children to play here, happily;
But let me go, I've deserved it, I don't feel at home here,
In this non-commercial world, constructed at random,
And where shall I:find room, now that the Rose is
Not in this Palace,
Where it is hard to turn in your sleep.
What world could accommodate two stories?
Greedy ones, at that,
Not content with bran.
No, the Sea cannot take two Fishes,
All of it
Is impossible.