The earth has found peace
as the autumn harvest ripens
and the corn is cut.
It will sleep in peace
when the snow of winter covers it.
– We children of earth will have peace
when the harvest of days ripens,
when the harvest of life is cut.
You who are holy and unknown, incomprehensible, holy and invisible,
give us peace.
Peace to those who have slept in darkness and silence.
Peace to us, hurrying onwards still
amid the lights and hubbub of the world.
Give us peace.
Peace to those who are whirled by joy and pain and longing,
peace in which is humble joy and sorrow
and the strength to finish the day’s task.
And give peace also
to hands that have fallen from their task,
to eyes that are shut in sleep –
the peace that unites those who sleep and are gone from us
with those still wandering here.
The peace which passes all understanding,
give it to them, and to us.
About this poem
I first heard Nummi read at the Edinburgh Festival about thirty years ago. Later, while working in Finland, I was drawn to his Requiem sequence (Otava 1990). Keen to translate it, I got in touch with him. He was quite unlike my image of the ‘grand old man’ of literature – unpretentious, youthful in spirit, and kind in setting me right about my errors, of which there were more than enough. From the sequence I formed an impression of a religious sensibility – not unexpected – but also one that left space for uncertainty. His poems are modern in the sense of allowing and even sympathising with the scepticism of the age.