Thursday, April 23, 2009

Finnish Cultural Assimilation Lesson # 39

Yet another installment in my series of lessons for those who wish to be assimilated into Finnish culture, or merely wish to try and understand the modern Finnish soul.

Viidestoista yö (the 15th night)

Juice Leskinen, often described as the "Bob Dylan of Finland" was a prolific poet and songwriter. As the result of a poll in 2004 he was ranked 38th of the 100 Greatest Finns. Fifteenth Night is but one of his many great songs, apparently written after a 14 day drinking binge. Juice passed away in 2006.

My unpoetic translation of a bit of Viidestoista Yö:

1st verse
In my eyes, the look of a lost orphan-a child that's lost its way
The remnants of your love make my chest ache
The darkness hits me like a squadron of bombers
And I don't even ask at what price.

I watch the world with you
and I see the same dream
Like a madman I cry out after your love.
I curl up in your arms
and if you let me I'll spend the night
and when morning comes I won't know where I am.

Vanhojapoikia Viiksekkäitä (old bachelors with whiskers)
(don't let the unfortunate wardrobe choices made by the background singers affect your enjoyment of this song...)

Juha Vainio composed over 100 songs, as well as wrote and or translated lyrics for nearly 2000 more which have been recorded by various Finnish artists.
Old Bachelors with whiskers is one of his very own. It tells the story of Nestori Miikulainen, an old bachelor destined to live his life alone on a windblown island on Lake Saimaa. An old Saimaa seal sympathizes with Nestori, they are both a dying breed.

Again, an unpoetic translation on my part.

On an island on Lake Saimaa is a tenant farmer's plot
Nestori Miikulainen sits on the steps
playing a harmonica and a Saimaa seal
rises to the surface splashing
Below the waves it heads towards the musician
because the melody is really familiar.
The song tells of how it feels to be alone
and the seal understands that well.

Nestori never had a wedding
the world lured away his bride.
Old bachelors with whiskers
is what they both are.


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