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Prologue

by Nils-Aslak Valkeapää (1991)

Nils-Aslak Valkeapää delivered this prologue during the opening ceremony of the North Norway Festival in Harstad in 1991, the year he served as ”Artist of the Year.”

FINN 1991 konsert Foto Anders Cederløv Nordlys
Photo: Anders Cederløv | Nordlys

Birds.

Birds.
They did come. This year too.

 

The spring rain
soaked the backs of the reindeer calves.
Nature was woken. The grass. The leaves. Turning green. About to bloom.

 

As if these winters are heavier.
I wait almost fearfully for the sun to return. Will it really come?
It did come.
This year too.

 

As if the darkness is darker.
Longer. Heavier.
Hunger. Sickness. Hurricanes.
Afrika. South America. Bangladesh.

 

Birds.

 

They did come after all. This year too.
A lot of them.
But many have become fewer. They are missing. And many you don’t see at all.
Alaska’s shores. Italy’s beaches. The Persian Gulf.
Oil.

 

The rain.
Has woken nature. This year too.
But many places are polluted. Poisonous rain.
Many places, not green anymore.

 

These years, heavier.
The darkness darker.
That people never learn. Do not grow, as human beings.
The East European countries. The Baltic region. Iraq.
Kuwait. The Kurds...
                                   The whole world.
War. Terrorism. Racism.

 

As if this cold is colder.
As if fear hurts, waiting for the sun.

 

But the sun is here after all. Now.
Both night and day.
The sun.
Heals hurt feelings. The pain.

 

And the goddess of all green plants, of bird song, gives me joy.

 

I celebrate the reindeer, their beauty, their elegance.
The foundation of northern life, the ballet of the tundra.

 

And the fish gives me joy.
The fish.
The shimmering of the water, the silver of the sea.
The life of life. The children of the moon. The rainbow of the waters.

 

I celebrate the sun.
The sun, giver of life.
The golden ring, heaven’s smile.

 

Smiles.

 

Warmth.
Illuminate this gloom, the mind’s dark season.
Melt frozen feelings.

 

Make us smile. Joyful. Green. Sing like birds.
Make flowers bloom.
Our hearts.
Tenderness. Love.

 

You.
I look for you.
Your smile, your warmth, tenderness, love.
You.
And you. And you. And you...

 

And then there is us, and then we are more, and even more,
and we love to see the dark world turn light,
we smile mildness into the winter of the senses,
we.

 

English translation by Lars Nordström and Harald Gaski