Finnish poetry is rich, vibrant, and complex. Finland has a long poetic history dating back to the days of the great epic poets and runesingers of Kalevala. The Finns are a musical and a poetical people, and the culture still fosters poetic expression. The average Finn doubtless does not realize it, but he could most likely recite a snippet of the Kalevala, a few poems, and the lyrics to countless Finnish folk songs.

The Finns are a people who are passionate about preserving their culture and traditions; it is in that spirit that this site is created. This collection is yet but a fraction of Finland's vast body of poetry; it should not be considered as a representative selection—just a small sample of what Finnish poetry has in store, according to my own personal tastes. Included are also song lyrics; since the original Finnish poetical impulse was for the sung word, I see no reason not to include lyrics as poetry.

Translating Finnish poetry into English is a frustrating task for any who has tried it. The Finnish language is full of nuance — every word carries with it a connotation, not just of a value judgment, but its inherent environment. There are a plethora of adjectives and descriptive words which have no equivalent in English, or cases in which the English counterpart is "flatter," devoid of meaning, whereas the original word carries with it a specific context of emotion, time, location, or quality. Much of the flavor and rhythm of the language is perforce lost.

That said, I hope my translations will at least somewhat lift the veil and offer a glimpse of the beauties of Finnish poetry.

—Anniina Jokinen

The Kalevala

Song XV. Excerpt. Mother of Lemminkäinen. Lemminkäisen Äiti.

Modern Finnish Poets

Risto Rasa

Eeva Kilpi

Finnish Songs and Lyrical Poems

Site © 2002-2006 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.
The original poems are © their respective copyright holders. Translations © Anniina Jokinen.