Paavo Haavikko
Translated by Anselm Hollo
from The Winter Palace

The Sixth Poem


Here, everything is as usual
Except for the thousand ships
And those roofless towers.
Like a river into the sea,
I bring full darkness to the night;
A woman, her dress in full flower,
But when the scent is gone
She would suddenly laugh, a bad dream
And smile, with her teeth – no,
I won't stop here.

A woman would like to be blind
As a mirror, and undress alone;
You may walk by, but the night does not halt,
A woman sleeping alone knows well
That the summer is a cold region.

Two women I have drawn for you here,
On the dark field of night,
But you are not tempted.
I wonder,
ls it Helen you want?
Odysseus bathed in her eyes. . .
Who complained, Troy burns
And yet it is cold,
Who complained, in this house
The fire freezes your bones. . .

And what is the subject of this poem,
And is it a poem?
Now, here
A woman who looks past and at you:
Carnivorous, a trap, a little meal
With a soft hunger: would she not please?

And she woke up, lightly,
And listened to the night .

Or this one – a tortoise,
Overturned, always struggles
To get back onto its belly, but this one
Does not even try;
Would she not want to be a beautiful rose,
For the night?

And the woman got out of the tub,
Bending, under the weight of her hair;

And as she dries her hair,
In her shoulder appears
A quiet little dimple, and disappears:
Her limbs were smiling.

The terror, to move, always move, and in the end
You live there, with an old woman, alone:
There is no such thing as a sad woman, in the singular,
No need to stop here,
There is
No happiness here.