Paavo Haavikko
translated by Anselm Hollo
The Winter Palace

The First Poem

Chased into silver,
Side by side:
The images.
To have them tell you. . .

A many-crested roof,
To cut the wind and the birds as they pass.
            go the snow, the birds and the grass
(not much industry, there).
An aerial
                 arabesque or ear,
Strung in the wind.

Tree tree tree and tree
This is the song:

No time, no time to see the green before it bursts open.
Again it was spring,
The bird tried to sing, but its voice was confusion,
And there was a house,
And in it, a man, a woman, a child and an old woman.
Nine holes
                    in the soul.

A chimney-cap, spinning.
Three colours:
Green, black and grey.
The melting snow, the forest, the rushes, the river and the
Fir, and pine, and birch,
Alder and willow, the willow a bush,
And the hazel:
Here it grows up to the height of a tree.

Again it was spring.
Long weeks the woman breathes into it,
Then it cries out:
I am born!
l am a girl!
And l'Il go out by myself and play in front of the house.

Wooden birds: their beaks point at the sky.
Ail I can say here, Spring or Autumn, the wall sheds its
Snow, grass and birds go North
Or corne from the North and pass us by.

The clouds flake off the sky.
The sun is bald –
No one ever says that.

And did I tell you,
The trees, and their branches –
That the willows are bushes, here –
The hazel, a tree?

The station platform:
Such flowers.
Walking along it, it all depended
On your feet.
That is, on the left, or, in turn, on the right
There was also a pillar,
Stretching from ceiling to floor
Like a thick rope. . .
In this white city,
Written by architects
In their perpendicular hand.

Perhaps it is time
For some conversation?
Why not?
As follows:
And winter came into the armoured car,
Settled and stayed awhile and left.
This was where the snow, the birds and the grass passed
The winter left its gumboots behind
And went on,

Is it – one of those
Who crossed the Alps?

No, it isn't Hannibal.

Is it – perhaps – an elephant?

No no, it's an automobile.

But where

No no, he's travelling abroad.

Grab hold of your hat
– both hands, if you wish.
The wind took the birds,
The sea grows big
And the forest, bald.

And, briefly:
The old part (1754-1762) is known as
The Winter Palace.
Accordingly everything,
Floor, ceiling, walls
Is covered with these exalted beings:
Venus, Jupiter, many ladies
Of a full-bodied vintage.
You can still see how many a man
Lost head and hat
By the Berezhina River,
You can see that Borodino
Was a victory;

Of such
l'm talking, here,
Under the roof
Thatched by my hair.