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Aale Tynni (1913-1997) - in full Aale Maria Tynni-Haavio


Finnish poet and translator, who edited and translated into Finnish a comprehensive anthology of European poetry ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day entitled Tuhat laulujen vuotta (1957). Aale Tynni's own poems, written in rhyme, explored such general themes as love, human realtions, and conflicts in life. She also used myths, ballads, and historical subjects, especially in later works. In Miten kirjani ovat syntyneet (1969, how my books were born) Tynni stated that "my primary aim in poetry – has not been to tell of myself, nor to confess or promulgate," but "simply to create poetry."

"I'm still young, and I awake rejoicing,
as amazing morning shines at my window.
My heart is pounding with happy loving -
Oh my land, I love the look of you so."
(from 'Summer Morning,' in Lehtimaja, 1946)

Aale Tynni was born in Kolppana, Ingermanland, a Finnish-speaking province around St. Petersburg, into a large family of seven children. His father, Kaapre Tynni, was a journalist and director of a school, and mother, Lilja (Piipponen) Tynni, was a teacher. After Russian revolution, the family moved in 1919 to Finland, and settled in Helsinki, where Kaapre Tynni worker as a teacher. Tynni began to write poems in her childhood. At the secondary school she published her works in the school magazine.

After graduating from Helsingin Suomalainen Tyttölyseo in 1932, she studied at the University of Helsinki, receiving her M.A. in 1936. Two years later Tynni published her first collection of poems, Kynttiläsydän. "No, my friend, life is not a poem," she declared, as if a reply to Uuno Kailas, had a profound influence on her generation of poets. In 1939 Tynni made a journey to France and Italy. When the war broke out, she had to return to Finland. In 1940  Tynni married Kauko Pirinen, who became professor of church history. They had three children. Tynni worked as a teacher at a number of schools. In 1947, she began her acclaimed career as a translator of poems with Henrik Ibsen's famous verse play Brand.

Main themes in Tynni´s poems in the 1940s are sensuous love, joy of life, and motherhood, as is seen in Vesilintu (1940) and Soiva metsä (1947).  Throughout her career, the work of a poet was in the focus of several poems.  In 'Nuorallatanssija' (Lähde ja matkamies, 1942) Tynni associated the role of an artist with the loneliness of a tighrope walker: "Niin korkealla / kuin tornisi huippu on kultainen, / minä tanssin silmiesi alla / koko päiväni helteisen." Lehtimaja (1946), which came out after the war, reflects the diffucult period but Tynni did not fall into the pessimistic camp; she was too purposeful and energetic for that. 

From the beginning, Tynni's favorite poetic form was the ballad. Ylitse vuoren lasisen (1949), in which Tynni based several of her poems on fairy tale characters, includes her most popular poem, 'Kaarisilta' (The arch bridge). However, the poems are not intended for children.

In 1948 Tynni received the Gold medal from 'Hellaan laakeri' (The Laurel of Hellas) at the London Olympics of Art. In her poetry collections in the 1940s, a polarity is set up between the destruction wrought by war and cumulative life force embodied in motherhood. The earth, trees, and wind were the central elements in her work. During the 1950s she used historical and fairy-tale material. Everyday observations were connected to philosophical problems, but Tynni avoided giving straight answers. Irony and humor were often a part of her expression.

Tynni´s translations include works from such authors as William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, William Butler Yeats, William Wordsworth. She also translated with J.A. Hollo ancient Icelandic poetry contained in Edda. Her Tuhat laulujen vuotta (first printing in 1957 with Saima Harmaja, Uuno Kailas, Otto Manninen, P. Mustapää, Aino Kallas, Kaarlo Sarkia, Juhani Siljo, Elina Vaara, Lauri Viljanen and other writers) is among the most popular collections of western poetry published in Finnish. In its foreword Tynni asks the question, is it worth to translate from other language to another, especially poems – perhaps prose translation would be enough. She sees, on the other hand, that poems are not only ideas and pictures, the poems live in rhythm, and that is why she has tried to follow the rhythm of he original text as closely as possible. In practice, this meant that occasionally she had to introduce new rhythmic elements into Finnish language.

Tuhat laulujen vuotta was criticized by Lauri Viljanen, who thought that Tynni did not have ear for rhythmic subtlety and pointed out weaknesses in her translations. Viljanen represented the view that the original text should be rendered into another language as faithfully and literally as possibly. Especially he was annoyed because Tynni had altered some of his own texts. The highly influential scholar and critic, V.A. Koskenniemi, took Viljanen's side. Martti Haavio, a member of the Finnish Academy, defended Tynni, his protegé, pointing out that some of Viljanen's own early works were not free from errors.

Poem and translation
'The Sick Rose' by William Blake

O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm,

That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy;

And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy

Olet sairas, ruusu!
Mato, jota ei näy,

joka lentää yössä,
kun myrsky käy,

ilovuoteesi löysi
Sinut tuhoaa tumma
salarakkaus sen

From 1960 Tynni was married to Martti Haavio (alias P. Mustapää, 1899-1973), a poet and folklorist, who called Tynni his "muse". They had been close to each other for a long time, but Tynni stayed in her marriage because of the children. Tynni and Haavio just met at cafes and talked. Some of the poems in Tuntematon puu (1952), including the ballad 'Puutarhurin tytär' and 'Metsässä tuulee,' were born as a result of her separation from Haavio during the summer.

In one of his poems Haavio asked, is love possible at an old age. Their marriage was happy, a union of kindred spirits. With her husband, Tynni edited ABC-books and children's readers. Haavio's works include basic research of formerly incompletely known types of folklore: stories, legends, myths etc. After his death, Tynni edited a collection of Haavio's speeches and writings. In the collection of poems, entitled Tarinain lähde (1974), she expressed her longing for his company. However, in her popular lectures at the University of Tampere and the University of Helsinki on P. Mustapää's poetry, Tynni avoided intimate subjects.

For further reading: Aale Tynni by Yrjö Oinonen (1946); 'Aale Tynnin runous' by Unto Kupiainen, in Kootut runot by Aale Tynni (1955); Miten kirjani ovat syntyneet, ed. by Ritva Rainio (1969); A History of Finnish Literature by Jaakko Ahokas (1973); 'Maan sydän - Aale Tynnin runouden tavoitteista ja ilmaisukeinoista' by Kaarina Sala, in Rivien takaa, ed. by Ritva Haavikko (1976); A Way to Measure Time, ed. by Bo Carpelan et al. (1992); A History of Finland's Literature, ed. by George C. Schoolfield (1998); 'Keskiaika, aika keskellämme - Aale Tynnin balladi kahdesta rakastavaisesta' by Satu Grünthal, in Runosta runoon, ed. by Sakari Katajamäki & Johanna Pentikäinen (2004) - Other Finnish translators: Otto Manninen, J.A. Hollo

Selected works:

  • Kynttiläsydän: runoja, 1938
  • Kansa kalliolla: maanpuolustuksen kultainen kirja, 1939 (editor, with Matti Kuusi)
  • Vesilintu: runoja, 1940
  • Lähde ja matkamies: runoja, 1943
  • Lehtimaja, 1946
  • Soiva metsä: runoja, 1947
  • Ylitse vuoren lasisen: runoja, 1949
  • Tuntematon puu: runoja, 1952
  • Kerttu ja Perttu ja muut talon lapset, 1953 (illustrated by Helga Sjöstedt)
  • Kissa liukkaalla jäällä ja muita satuja, 1954 (illustarated by Helga Sjöstedt)
  • Torni virrassa: runoja, 1954
  • Vieraana Vihreällä saarella, 1954
  • Satuaapinen, 1955 (editor, illustrated by Maija Karma)
  • Heikin salaisuudet, 1956 (illustrated by Usko Laukkanen)
    - Heikkis Geheimnisse (übers. aus dem Finnischen von Maria Mencke; illustr. von Usko Laukkanen, 1962)
  • Kultainen aapinen, 1956 (editor, with Martti Haavio and A. Hinkkanen, illustrated by Maija Karma)
  • Kultainen lukukirja, 1957 (editor, with Martti Haavio and A. Hinkkanen, illustrated by Maija Karma)
  • Yhdeksän kaupunkia: runoja, 1958
  • Kultaiset aapissadut, 1959 (editor, with Martti Haavio, illustrated by Maija Karma)
  • Kultainen kotiseutu, 1960 (editor, with Martti Haavio, illustrated by Maija Karma)
  • Maailmanteatteri: runoja, 1961
  • Balladeja ja romansseja, 1967
  • Pidä rastaan laulusta kiinni: Runoja, 1969
  • Tarinain lähde: runoja, 1974
  • Olen vielä kaukana, 1978
  • Kootut runot, 1955
  • Valikoima runoja, 1958
  • Muuttohaukat, 1965 (play)
  • Martti Haavio: Puheita ja kirjoitelmia vv. 1960-1973, 1974 (editor)
  • Vihreys: runoja, 1979
  • Valo ja varjo: lyriikka ja grafiikkaa, 1983 (with Aune Mikkonen, edited by Ritva Ahonen and Kaarina Sala)
  • Vuodenajat: runoja, 1987
  • Inkeri, Inkerini, 1990
  • Rautamarskin aika, 1991 (play)
  • Kuva kaivattuni. P. Mustapään runojen taustaa, 2005 (edited by Riitta Seppälä)


  • Henrik Ibsen, Brand: runonäytelmö, 1947
  • William Wordsworth, Runoja 1949 (with Yrjö Jylhä and Lauri Viljanen)
  • Emil Zilliacus, Toivioretkiä Hellaassa, 1950
  • Adam Oehlenschlager, Alladin eli ihmeellinen lamppu, 1954 (radio play)
  • Tuhat laulujen vuotta: valikoima länsimaista lyriikkaa, 1957 (with others; new edition in 1975)
  • Tulisen järjen aika: kymmenen modernia ranskalaista lyyrikkoa, 1962 (2nd ed., 1981, contains poems by Apollinaire, Perse, Eluard, Breton, Cocteau, Aragon, Michaux, Desnos, Queneau, Prévert)
  • William Shakespeare, Sonetit, 1965 (introduction by Tauno Mustanoja)
  • W.B. Yeats, Runoja, 1966
  • František Halas, Lasten paratiisi, 1968 (illustrated by Ota Janeček; original title: Kinderparadies)
  • Kaksikymmentäyksi Nobel-runoilijaa, 1976 (with Tuomas Anhava, et al.)
  • Eddan sankarirunot, 1980 (see Snorri Sturluson)
  • Eddan jumalrunot, 1982
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hiawatha, 1985 (an excerpt; illustated by Susan Jeffers)
  • Rouva Satakieli: keski- ja eteläeurooppalaisia kansanlauluja, 1985 (editor and translator)
  • Jean Racine, Faidra: viisinäytöksinen murhenäytelmä, 1986
  • Lounatuulia, 1990 (with Saima-Liisa Laatunen and Otto Manninen, illustrated by Elly Christoffel)
  • Edith Södergran, Elämäni, kuolemani ja kohtaloni: kootut runot, 1994 (with Pentti Saaritsa, Uuno Kailas)

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