Flags are flying for poet Eino Leino

Born in the last part of the 19th century in Kuusamo, Eino Leino was an influential poet, journalist and translator who helped shape the ideals of national romanticism.

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File picture of waving Finnish flag, with Helsinki in the background / Credit: iStock

Flags are flying in Finland today to celebrate summer, and for revered Finnish poet Eino Leino.

The young poet, born towards the end of the 19th century in Kainuu, wrote his first work age 12, and by age 18 had already published a collection of his original poetry.

Leino graduated from secondary school in Hämeenlinna and went on to study at the University of Helsinki where he mingled in literary and journalism circles.

During his life he published more than 70 books of poetry and stories which draw extensively on Finnish folklore in the style of the national epic Kalevala, and he’s considered one of the most influential Finnish writers who helped shaped the concept of national romanticism, which characterizes the works of other young talented Finnish artists of the time like composer Jean Sibelius, artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela and architect Eliel Saarinen.

Eino Leino himself contributed a great deal to Finnish culture also as a translator, by translating the works of writers like Runeberg from Swedish, and Goethe from German into Finnish. He was also the first person to translate Dante’s Divine Comedy, written in the 1300s, from Italian to Finnish.

However after independence and the Finnish Civil War, Leino lost faith in national unity and his influence as a writer, critic and journalist faded. He died in 1926 aged just 47-years old.