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Review: A Landscape Blossoms Within Me, by Eeva Kilpi

The finest poems of the collection are ones in which an all-encompassing, transcendent love blossoms out of candid descriptions of physical aging. The inclusiveness characteristic of the pantheistic Christianity Kilpi believes in is illustrated best by the poem 'A Song about Love'. In this poem the poetic voice prays for help in accepting the love of all people, 'a love that so terrifies us'. The poem begins in medias res, a recurring feature in Kilpi's poems, with a lover imagining a future of 'stiff joints, rheumatism and lumbago', but a future in which she and her partner are 'hooked round each other'. The description of the aging couple is beautiful in its honesty and the image of the multiple becoming one is beatific. The description of suffering 'lumps and folds of skin' and the union of 'wrinkles into creases' is interrupted by the lover's 'soft' prayer for the other's easy death. This view of death as an escape from suffering must be read in light of the final lines: 'Arm in arm we'll walk together/And our sky will always be bright.' Kilpi views love as something that continues to exist long after physical deterioration and death. This powerful belief that love's potential to unify in life continues into death is wonderfully expressed throughout this and other poems in the collection.

A Landscape Blossoms Within Me is a wonderful collection of poetry that has elicited both laughter and contemplation from everyone with whom I have shared the poems. Kilpi's humorous quips about the differences between men and women and her concern with issues such as religious tolerance and global warming make her an accessible and profound voice in the contemporary moment. It's hard for me to find serious fault with this book. The dates of composition could have been included on the title page of each new section. Instead, the information relating to publication dates is placed, nondescriptly, in the notes on the text and translation. Matching the Finnish titles to the corresponding English ones is not difficult but could be avoided if the original dates of publication were printed next to the titles on the contents page. Having read this funny, emotive and provoking collection, it is easy to see why Eeva Kilpi is one of Finland's best-loved poets, and why her work has been translated into so many languages.