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||Severi Nuormaa (1865-1924) - surname until 1906 Nyman|
Finnish journalist, educator and poet, who assisted the poet Arvid Genetz (1848-1915) during his journeys in Carelia and East-Russia. Nuormaa was influenced among others by the Swedish poet Viktor Rydberg (1828-1895), whose lyrics he translated into Finnish. During the period from the late 19th-century to the early 20th-century, when Russian government started to integrate Finland more firmly with the rest of the Empire, Nuormaa's patriotic works had a deep influence on public opinion and strengthened opposition against Russian authorities.
Severi Nuormaa was born in Pälkäne, the son of Reinhold Nyman, a blacksmith and farmer, and Helena Salomontytär. Reinhold Nyman gained fame as a blacksmit but he never became wealthy. In one poem Nuormaa depicts his father, who works in his smithy, all in a swelter, and later carries his son home with his strong arms: "Kylän lapset ne vain näki raatavan sun hikivirrassa huoaten, kylpein, mut minä, min' olin ylpein, käsivars se kun kantoi kotihin mun." Although the family was poor, Nuormaa's parents sent him to Helsinki and Hämeenlinna to continue his studies. He graduted from lycée in 1888. Next year he travelled with the linguist Arvid Genetz in Eastern Russia, collecting folklore and linguistic material. Their journey to the Urals took half a year, and Nuormaa wrote during this period some of his earlies poems, such as 'Näköala Kremliltä' and 'Näköala Uralilta'. Between the years 1891 and 1893 Nuormaa edited the newspaper Hämeen Sanomat. In 1893 Nuormaa received his M.A. from the University of Helsinki. He worked as a director of Etelä-Häme folk high school (1894-1898) and the Worker's Institute of Tampere (1899-1903). In 1894 Nuorvala married Hilja Dagmar Ernestine Wendell, the daughter of a district police superintendent, who was politically active in the passive resistance movement against Russia. She also participated in many ways in municipal politics in Turku.
To collect material for his doctoral thesis Nuormaa visited the universities of St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, Copenhagen, and Uppsala. He was also highly popular orator, whose speeches arose suspicion among Russian authorities, who had started campaign to restrict freedoms. He also angered clerical circles in 1902, when he accused the Church of forgetting the oppressed. "Kuinka kova onkaan se uskon käsitys, joka tahtoo lyödä jo lyötyä, sortaa jo ennestään sorrettua. Kuvittelen mielessäni maassa makaavan sidotun raukan, jota piestään ja tallataan, ja jonkun uskonnon kannalta vaientavan kärsivän liikahduksia: olet paha, nöyristy, nöyristy! Epäilemättä Jumala sanoisi moiselle lphduttajalle, niinkuin hän sanoin Jobin ystäville: te ette ole oikein minuista puhuneet." Nuormaa was dismissed from his office at the Worker's Institute of Tampere, after General-Governor Bobrikov received several letters from informers. To avoid arrest, he left the country. Between the years 1903-05 Nuormaa lived with his family in the United States, where he edited the magazines Päivälehti and Amerikan kaiku. After returning to Finland he worked as a journalist and director of the Finnish Workers's Institute of Turku (1908-1918). He edited the newspapers Tampereen Sanomat (1905) and Helsingin Sanomat (1906-09), and from 1911 to 1914 Nuorvala worked for the magazine Kodin Kuvasto, and then for the newspaper Turun Sanomat (1919-24).
"Samaran-Ufan rautatiellä elok. 2 p. Aro, tukahduttava kuumuus. Vaunusta on loppunut vesi. Eräällä asemalla oli tatari tullut tarjoamaan suuresta, mustasta pullosta kumiskaa (hevosen maidosta tehtyä juomaa) ja olimme juoneet sitä kumpikin 3-4 lasillista. Oikaisetessamme penkillä toisiamme vastapäätä Genetz alkoi viheltää iloista säveltä, ja minä olin näkevinäni, että hänen silmänsä loistivat kummallisesti. Vihdoin hän kohottausi paikallaan ja sanoi: - Kuule, minä luulen, että me olemme juovuksissa!" (Nuormaa's foreword in Muistoja ja toiveita by Arvi Jännes, 1918)
Nuormaa's major works were published during a period, which was marked by resistance to Russification policies. National themes dominated literature, and deep tensions and social unrest burst into the surface with the Great Strike of 1905. Among his friends was the poet Eino Leino, who influenced his writing. As poet Nuormaa made his debut in 1895 with Kotoisilla rannoilla under the name Severi Nyman. It ws followed by Runoja (1900), Seitsemän runoa (1902), Elämän ulapoilla (1904). These collections were characterized by enthusiastic patriotism, forcible rhythms, idealism, and solemnity. Nuormaa published also studies, and translated into Finnish works from such authors as Alexander Petöfi (1892) and Viktor Rydberg (1896). From 1906 to 1908 he was the chairman of the Writers' Association. The Finnish Civil War (1917-18) left Nuormaa politically disillusioned. As a poet he felt he had lived past his own time.
In 1918 Nuormaa resingned from his office at the workers' institute. He moved for a short time from Turku to Helsinki where he edited the military propaganda magazine Sotilas-Viikkolehti. As a humanist who read Homer, Horace, and Heinrich Heine, and associated with writers and artists, Nuormaa was not happy with this kind of work. He returned to Turku where he worked as the editor of the newspaper Turun Sanomat. Nuormaa died of pneumonia on June 11, 1924, in Turku. His friend Eino Leino had sent him postcard greetings, which arrived a few days later, asking is he still writing: "Vieläkö helskytät, hei, / tätä suomesi soipoa kieltä: / Veljesi Eino Leino." Nuormaa's last book, Risti ja runo, came out in 1922. It was more personal than the previous collections, which were coloured by political and social upheavals.
For further reading: Uudempi suomalainen kirjallisuus I-II by O.A. Kallio (1928); Aleksis Kivestä Martti Merenmaahan (1954); Severi Nuormaa: Kansansivistäjä, sanomalehtimies, runoilija by Urho Verho (1956); 'Routavuosien Severi Nuormaa' by Marja Niiniluoto, in Helsingin Sanomat (15.10.1965); Matkan määränä kansan menestys by Raimo Vahtera (2004); Kansan, sivistyksen tähden: Severi Nuormaan vaiheita kansallisen murroksen vuosina by Mauri Nest (2005) - Note: Oskar Merikanto's song 'Kuin hiipuva hiillos' was based on Nuormaa's poem