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|P. Mustapää (1899 - 1973) - real name Martti Haavio|
Finnish folklorist and poet, member of the Finnish Academy 1956-1969. Typical for Haavio's poems is irony, relativism, and skillful use of poetic rhythm and free metre – later in life he began to use traditional metrics with masterful freshness. Haavio is considered with Aaro Hellaakoski the most important poets of the transitional period between traditional and modern verse.
"Grey grief he's had his measure
Martti Haavio was born in Temmes, the son of Anna Lydia Ahlgrén and Kaarlo Haavio, a priest. At an early age, Haavio began to write short stories and poems. After the Civil War broke out in 1917, Haavio joined the Civil Guard. He studied at the University of Helsinki, receiving his Ph. D. in 1932. Although he had reserved nature, he was active in different student organizations and wrote for student magazines. From 1932 to 1949, Haavio was a lecturer at the university. In 1949 he was appointed professor of folklore. From 1924 to 1931 Haavio worked at the publishing house WSOY as an editor and from 1946 to 1951 as the director of literature department. Haavio's double position as an influential figure in literary circles and a director of a publishing company was criticized by V.A. Koskenniemi, who had been the leading poet between the world wars. Koskenniemi believed, that Haavio and Hellaakoski have formed a clique against him.
Haavio married in 1929 the critic and folklorist Elsa Enäjärvi; they had five children. She had reviewed Haavio's first collection of poetry, written under the pseudonym 'Mustapää', in 1925, praising his poetic intuition and untamed temperament. Her own dissertation, The Game of Rich and Poor (1932), was a comparative study of singing games. Enäjärvi-Haavio's other publications include Über die nordischen Kinderspiele (1936), Inkerin virsi (1943), and Pankaamme käsi kätehen (1949). She died in 1951, at the age of fifty, after suffering from cancer for some years. In 1960 Haavio married the poet and translator Aale Tynni, whose works were published by WSOY. With her Haavio wrote ABC-books and readers for schools. Their marriage was a happy union of two creative souls.
In 1939 Haavio, a member of the Center Party, ran unsuccessfully for Parliament. During the Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union (1941-44), Haavio served in the army at the information depatment and edited with Olavi Paavolainen the illustrated work Taistelu Aunuksesta (the battle on Aunus), which was never published. Haavio's Me marssimme Aunuksen teitä (1969), based on his war diaries.Under Haavio's direction, WSOY published after the war a number of classical and modern works of world literature in Finnish.
Haavio's academic work consist of basic research of formerly incompletely known types of folklore: stories, legends, myths etc. Among these studies are Suomalaisen muinaisrunouden maailma (1935), presenting the culture which created Kalevala and ancient Finnish poetry, Suomalaiset kodinhaltijat (1942), exploring trolls, spirits, fairies and other such creatures in Finnish folk mythology which have become part of everyday life, Väinämöinen (1950), about Kalevala's major hero figure, and a study of Finnish mythology Suomalainen mytologia (1967). As the director of the Finnish Literature Society's Folklore Archive from 1934, he organized collecting, research, and publishing projects.
As a poet, Haavio's approach to the tradition of poetry was playful – he did not feel necessary to create his fame in this field, but it was a supplementary activity for him. Often his verse had a slightly archaic tone. His poetic program Haavio summarized in Koiruoho, ruusunkukka (1947): "Into my song, I, further on, / my sweetheart's likeness shall lay, / a dream, a flower, a children's play. / Puck. Oberon."
Haavio's first collection of poems, Laulu ihanista silmistä (1925), appeared under the pseudonym Mustapää. It was followed by Laulu vaakalinnusta (1927), in which Haavio had abandoned free verse. He had started to develop ballad metre and was inspired by Aleksis Kivi's poetry and the lyrics in the old hymn book. According to one explanation, Haavio took his pseudonym from a middle-aged house, which he had seen in Estonia, on Toompea hill in Tallinn's old town. The collection was coldly treated by Lauri Viljanen, the leading critic of the literary group Tulenkantajat (The Flame Bearers). Haavio had a close connection to the group without sharing its enthusiasm in exotism, urbanism and machine romantics. Mentally rooted in the in the cultural landscape of Southwestern Finland, its old churches and vicarages, he never wanted to go to Paris. And the bohemian lifestyle did not attract him.
As an editor of a publishing house, Haavio followed international literary currents and was influenced by Kilping, Bertolt Brecht, Birger Sjöberg, Erik Axel Karlfeldt, and the Estonian poets Marie Under and Henrik Visnapuu. Brecht's Three-Penny Opera (1928), translated by Haavio, was performed in Finland in 1930. From the Finnish poets he admired most V.A. Koskenniemi and Aaro Hellaakoski, who shared his dread for conventional expression. In the 1920s Haavio adopted the national idealism of AKS (Academic Karelian Society), which stressed that, as prerequisite for the formation of a Greater Finland, the whole country would first have to be transformed into a consciously national and patriotic state, free of any remaining remnants of foreign influence.
Oi, Linblad, onkiessas,
Lauri Viljanen's sullen critic was perhaps the primarly reason for Haavio to stop writing lyric. After a long silence as a poet, Haavio published Jäähyväiset Arkadialle (1945), which established him as one of the most important writers. The work was born during the hard war years, expressing the sense of disappointment and resignation typical of the post-war Finnish middle class. "Yes: that black mob of jackdaws / blinded the poor fool: / in the country of the jackdaws / drastic laws are the rule." (1945) Two years later Haavio published Koiruoho, ruusunkukka, a long verse about the tinsmith Lindblad, who represented a way of life that had already largely disappeared, though there were still two tinsmiths in Sammatti, where Haavio spent his summers. The general tone is peaceful but somewhat melancholic; originally the title of the collection was "Summer Night's Dream". Lindblad, a soulmate of Karlfeldt's Fridolin, is a folk musician, philosopher, hard working craftsman, and unrealistic dreamer, who falls in love in the summer, loses his love to a rival, and eventually finds consolation in the thought that he is one of the Magis. Lindblad is buried in the winter; his funeral marks also the end of idealism. The reader meets again Lindblad in Ei rantaa ole, oi Thetis (1948) in the poem 'Uusi virsi' (new hymn). Lindblad is in Heaven. There he plays his accordion for the Apostles – sometimes the instrument is attributed to the Devil, which Haavio must have known.
In the poem 'Selitys' from Koiruoho, ruusunkukka Haavio emphasized that he did not have a certain philosophical position. The prevailing mood of his collections was pessimistic. In some poems he also asked is love possible at an old age, referring most likely to Aale Tynni, his "muse". However, they had to put off their marriage for several years because of family reasons. Haavio's later works include Linnustaja (1952), in which several poems drew on classical mythology, Tuuli Airistolta (1969), which included nostalgic autobiographical poems, and memoirs Nuoruusvuodet (1972). Martti Haavio died in 1973. After Haavio's death, Aale Tynni edited the second part of his memoirs, Olen vielä kaukana, which came out in 1978.
For further reading: Voices from Finland, ed. by Elli Tompuri (1947); 'P. Mustapään lyriikasta' by Kai Laitinen, in P. Mustapää: Kootut runot (1948); 'Kerrostuneen runon mestari' by Kaarlo Marjanen, in Näkökulma (1958); A History of Finnish Literature by Jaakko Ahokas (1973); 'Läkkiseppä Lindblad, oppinut herra ja P. Mustapää' by Maija Larmola, in Rivien takaa, ed. by Ritva Haavikko (1976); Olen vielä kaukana by Aale Tynni-Haavio (1978); 'P.Mustapää' by Annamari Sarajas, in Orfeus nukkuu (1980); A Way to Measure Time, ed. by Bo Carpelan et al. (1992); A History of Finland's Literature, ed. by George C. Schoolfield (1998); Suomen kirjallisuushistoria 2, ed. by Lea Rojola (1999); Suomen kansallisbiografia 3, ed. by Matti Klinge, et al. (2004)