Pentti Saarikoski
from Trilogy: Invitation to the Dance
translated by Anselm Hollo


Sir Samuel Baker
tries to persuade Commoro
chieftain of the Latooka tribe
on the banks of The White Nile
in the early 1860's
to believe in the soul and its immortality
it was like pouring water on the back of a goose
finally Sir Samuel
resorted to St. Paul
took a seed
made a small hole in the ground with his fmger
said that represents you when you die
that grain will decay
but from it will rise the plant
that will produce a reappearance
of the original form
Commoro told him I understand
what you're driving at
but you're not thinking straight
when I die I decay
the way the seed decays
the plant produced by the seed is a product
a new thing
the way a man's and a woman's children are
new things not known before
and Sir Samuel wrote
that in this wild naked savage
there was not even a superstition
upon which to found a religious
Their brains are like a marsh