Nature poems by Alexis Kivi (1834-1872). He was originally known as Alexis Stenvall. Kivi is the Finnish national writer, poet, playwright, novelist and the creator of modern Finnish literature. Kivi changed his name from the Swedish ‘Stenvall’, meaning ‘stone bar’, into the Finnish ‘Kivi’, meaning ‘stone’. This was because at the time Swedish was the language of intellectuals in Finland.
Kivi was the first Finn to become a professional writer. He published all his works in Finnish. His greatest work is considered to be the novel Seitsemän Verjestä (Seven Brothers) published two years before his death in 1870.
Nature Poems by Alexis Kivi
Sydämeni laulu (Grove of Tuoni, grove of night / Song of my Heart):
Tell me, my child,
My summer bright, tell me:
wouldst thou not sail away from here to a haven of everlasting peace
while the white pennant of childhood still flies clean?
On the shore of a misty, tideless lake stands the dark manor of Tuoni;
there in the heart of a shadowy grove,
in the bosom of a dewy thicket a cradle is prepared for thee
with snowy linen and wrappings.
Hear therefore my song; it wafts thee to the land of the Prince of Tuoni.
Grove of Tuoni could be translated as the ‘Grove of death’.
Finnish literature has its own very unique style. Finns, it is said, generally assume everyone is born in the forest, next to a lake, are used to temperatures of -20 Celsius, and are people of silence, few words and a very practical life. This therefore, is a very important part of their literature. In Finland winter lasts several months. It is a place where forest covers over 70% of the land and humans have established special ties with the trees. This culture and these ideas and thoughts are what transport you to the quiet Finnish lakeside.
From the poem Weariness:
Now dig my grave
Beneath the bay willows’ boughs
And with blackness cover it over again,
Then for evermore
Go from my domain:
I wish to slumber in peace.
What poetry would you choose for your funeral? What will it reflect about you? Will it reflect a belief in an afterlife or perhaps a love of nature?
For example, the first poem here might be suitable for the death of a child. I love the description of “My summer bright”. It brings to mind the love of a child, it is a term of endearment. “…the white pennant of childhood still flies clean.” This speaks of innocence and of a young age.
The second poem speaks of a final resting place beneath a tree and as it says is a place of peace. The second poem might therefor be suitable for someone who does not believe in an afterlife.
Both poems are deeply connected to nature and the second may be especially suited for a woodland burial.
In the current environmental crisis it is more important than ever that everything we do is sustainable and eco friendly. We can reflect our wish to help the planet not just in what we choose for our funeral, but in the spoken word too, bringing nature into the centre of of our lives as it really is. By sharing our love of and connection with the natural world we can inspire and help others to feel a connection to nature also also.
When considering poems for a funeral look beyond the mainstream to poetry from other cultures. Find something that is true and meaningful to you. This will really help create a meaningful and personal experience for you and your loved ones.
You can find out more about Finnish literature and the author