Pauli Tapio - 1986-

We lived between wars,
we were returning into the unknown,
history ended and began again,
the great economic upswing ended.

We lived between wars,
we forgot more than we learned,
no one could solve the armed crises
in the east, the growing discord in the west,
and a revolution was followed by twelve revolutions,
we were returning into the unknown,
we grew to our parents’ age, their stature,
and we wanted the same as them.

We lived between wars,
full of groundless pessimism,
forests were felled on the borders of nations, barbed wire was raised,
and when we walked in the park our son or daughter
let go of their balloon, and we let go of our son,
our daughter, we turned the earth of our gardens, our backs ached
and we forgot more than we learned,
a new constitution came into effect and the currency changed,
skimming the headlines, we hurried to work,
we were returning into the unknown,
we paid our debts and took on new debts,
the economy grew, our knowledge of the future did not increase.

We lived between wars,
full of groundless hope,
science started teaching us that everything was simulated,
and belief in an afterlife did not end, prophesying
did not cease, we kept on calculating probabilities,
the first wave of oppression was brief but harsh,
we were exhausted, we went to bed early
full of groundless pessimism,
and when I turned seventy my eyesight declined,
sighing, you went from room to room, brought the medicine in silence,
we forgot more than we learned,
the ruins of an ancient city were wiped away,
and new ruins were born of new cities,
we were returning into the unknown,
the era lost its meaning, the names of grandchildren,
it all started to seem monstrous, alien.
We lived between wars,
this distance between stupidity and wisdom kept growing,
but do you remember that New Year’s Eve, when we came home
in the small hours, I opened the window and the sparrows chirped,
we were gentle and it snowed, the sky fell slowly,
and slowly everything changed, the child slept, and grew,
the wind panned for gold in the street lamp’s swirl, we yawned
slowly, and the beast who swallowed the world yawned too,
we were full of groundless hope,
the fossil fuels finally ran out,
each summer the scarecrow got a new colonist’s uniform,
full of groundless pessimism,
we reminisced about the network, and how much we lied in those days,
we came from the sauna and a long flock of cranes flew over the region
for the last time, we forgot more than we learned,
our inutterably stupid generation
had had to build a new culture,
we were returning to the unknown,
a time when we’re finally forgotten, chirp chirp,
said the sparrows after we had gone.

Translated by Kasper Salonen