Pentti Saarikoski
from Trilogy: The Dance Floor on the Mountain
translated by Anselm Hollo


Let me say this one last time
now that he's dead
he was a cruel man
everybody liked him
sentimental, he was a fascist
(they are stiff gymnasts
and don't have good singing voices)
a hypocrite
General disguised as a Sergeant-Major
straight-backed, a patriot
and everybody liked him
I beat him to death in the mountain pass
in the Spring in the afternoon
when the mountain was blue and brown
Not a stupid man, but his lies
put a strain on his heart
he had no strength to laugh
except when reminiscing about schoolboy pranks
when on their Russian campaign
they had cut up a baby and boiled it
in a pot then served it to the prisoners
and those barbarians had found it tasty
He came toward me
his straw boater at a rakish angle
the sun that never had shone for him
truly shone that day
the mountainside glowed
he shouted "Out of my way, you twigs and pinecones!"
and I beat him to death
in the Spring, in the afternoon, he was buried
in his hometown and now
I'm building out of all that happened
a tangible tale
which I'll be reading
in springtimes to come when I am blind
and wait for my own slayer