July 6 – Eino Leino Day in Finland

Posted on July 6, 2017

Fly your flags, Finland, in honor of poet Eino Leino! 

In the past, I noted that Finland celebrated the birthday of its National Poet and of the thousands of verses of Finnish folklore and mythology that is the Kalevala. Well, this poetry-loving nation also celebrates Eino Leino, who was born on this date in 1878. Leino is known as a pioneer in Finnish poetry.

Leino was one of ten children, the youngest of seven brothers. He published his first poem at age 12, and by 18 he had published a collection of poems. He earned a lot of positive reviews from critics and joined literary circles and became a journalist. 

His influence as a journalist started to wane (dwindle) when the Finnish Civil War ended with Finland under the sorta-kinda rule of Germany - and this while Germany was embroiled in World War I! I read that Leino's optimism and idealism about an independent and unified Finland collapsed. About half a year after the civil war ended, World War I ended - and suddenly Finland WAS free and independent!

At that point, Leino was given a state writer's pension, and he continued to publish a lot...but his health went downhill, and he died at age 47.

Here are some beginnings of several of Leino's poems:

Moor hen's song dwells lonely in my ears
above the spikes the full moon is burning
summer night is my own happiness
on the valleys, clearing smoke is shrouding. - Nocturne

He who is Fire, let him serve the Fire.
And from the Earth who is, be Earth entire.
But for who wants to climb Heaven along
With Kantele a player sings a song:
What are we? Only ashes? Only dust?
No! For the thought rises from Earth with trust.
It's our destiny to be ashes once. - Hymn to the Fire

When over the woods the daylight was dawning,
the young maid was walking on the grass,
the flowers already opened their buds-morning
that yesterday evening they had closed their eyes. - When Over the Woods

Remember you, love at first sight,
nightingales sing in empty soul
in darkness of my empty night. - Apart

Finland has so much natural beauty, no wonder so many people are inspired to write poetry!

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