The Finnish original, “Ensimmäinen toukokuuta”, first published in Luonnollinen tanssi (1965)

It was the first of May.
Well we went out to drink lightly, and to dance.

She asked me to take even my wrist-watch off,
she asked me not to wound her with the ring.
She offered, in turns, an icy apple, and
one that was too hot.
The green plains boomed with a naked horse!
In space there were a thousand bulls, a thousand bulls!
Along with the roses, all that we touched upon, bloometh!

The houses staggered past and past.
The lines diffracted. The walls penetrated each other.
Past walked an unknown man who had legs.

I have read a thousand books,
and now, a clean page is as beautiful,
more beautiful than the one written full.
I’m tired of studying how you look like, O death.

I know already

that one day you will draw back the moving parts of the submachine-gun,
that one day you will let off,
that you will burn even the cabinet minister’s corpse into ashes,
that you will finally dig a mine even into the tyrant’s road,
when he’s busy expanding the empire
and wants to get rid of his shadow.
That you’ll be written under the young ebony faces,
when they shout and dance:
that, just for fun, you’ll try your pistol on them;
that they’ll fall mouthlong into the clay of night,
headlong to a stone; a curtain.

Now, a clean page is beautiful.
Hell is certain.

Let’s go out to drink lightly, and to dance.

The wine withers at the table like a flower.
It’s the first of May.
Don’t let it wither.
Flower, wine, lips, fruit:
Don’t let it wither.

A vast taxi:
ten stories, and a dash, a flash,
and we in their compartments.
Everything is at stake every moment.
A green light goes on – and is red,
and an iron distorts,
and a cloth tears, and flesh.
Drink ye brothers, it’s evening already.
And there will come the night that never ends.
Helplessness does not know its limits.