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Martti Haavio

Martti Henrikki Haavio (writing under the nom de plume P. Mustapää)
Born 22 January, 1899, Temmes. Died 4 February, 1973, Helsinki.

Master of Arts, 1923, Licentiate of Philosophy 1930, Doctor of Philosophy, 1932, University of Helsinki

Docent, Finnish and comparative folklore studies, 1932, University of Helsinki
Poet and folklore researcher.
Archivist, Finnish folklore collection, 1931–34, Director, 1934–48, Manager, 1948, Finnish Literature Society.
Clerk, literary division, 1924–31, 1941–46, Director of Literature 1946–51, WSOY publishing house.
Acting Professor of Finnish and Comparative Folklore Studies, 1947–49, and Professor 1949–56, University of Helsinki.

Member, Academy of Finland, 1956–69
President, Student ‘nation’ for Finland Proper, 1923–24, 1927–28, Inspector, 1951–56 and honorary member, 1966
Member, Kalevala Society, 1933, working member, 1941, and Honorary Member, 1969
Deputy-member, Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, 1933, and Member, 1947–49
Chairman, Finnish Society for the Study of Religion, 1963–69
Correspondent member, Ôpetatud Eesti Seltsi–The Learned Estonian Society, 1938
Member, Litterarum Societas Esthonica, 1938
Member, Kungl. Gustav Adolfs Akademien för svensk folkkultur (‘King Gustaf Adolf’s academy for Swedish folk culture’), Uppsala, 1953
Involvement on boards of various learned societies and foundations.

Photo: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura
Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta
Translated by John Calton

P. Mustapää = Martti Haavio

At the beginning of his university studies, Martti Haavio met Elsa Eklund (who changed her surname to Enäjärvi in 1922). It is said he fell in love with Elsa at first sight. He composed poetry about his muse Elsa under the pen name P. Mustapää, though at first, she did not realise she was the object of his affection. His poetry collections, Laulu ihanista silmistä (‘The song of wondrous eyes’) (1925) and Laulu vaakalinnusta (‘The song of the fabled bird’, 1927) were dedicated to her. More of his early love poetry was published in his later P. Mustapää collections in the 1940s to 1960s.

Elsa and Martti married in 1929, and had five children. Elsa Enäjärvi-Haavio was a prolific researcher of folk poetry, and also an active member of several organisations. She died of cancer in 1951. About ten years later, Martti Haavio married Aale Tynni, a poet and translator.

Haavio was associated with the literary group Tulenkantajat (‘Torch bearers’), but he could not identify with their expressionistic ideals and bohemian lifestyle. One member of the group in particular, Lauri Viljanen, publicly criticised Mustapää’s Laulu vaakalinnusta, even though it won a government literary prize. It took another 20 years before Haavio was to publish again under the name P. Mustapää. In the meantime he worked for WSOY and the Finnish Literature Society, served in the Winter War and Continuation War, and continued his research on both folk poetry and mythology.

P. Mustapää’s poems are emotionally charged. They combine playfulness and passion, which was something new at the time. His poems are down to earth and they reflect the contemporary culture. Many of the poems were inspired by Haavio’s summer villa in Sammatti. In addition to the poems, Martti Haavio published a number of children’s books in a series called Kultainen koti (‘The golden home’, WSOY). He also edited many picture books for children as well as school textbooks. One of his most famous poems is Laulu Nukkumatista (‘A Song of the Sandman’); it was recorded by the popular balladeer and all-round Finnish hero, Tapio Rautavaara as Sininen uni (‘The blue dream’) in 1952.

Haavio is said to have invented the pen name P. Mustapää while visiting Tallinn across the Gulf of Finland. He had ties to Estonian folklore, literature and culture up until the Soviet era. His pen name remained a secret until it was revealed by Olavi Paavolainen.

Martti Haavio died after suffering a heart attack in 1973. Aale Tynni-Haavio completed the sequel to her husband’s memoirs, Olen vielä kaukana: Martti Haavio - P. Mustapää 20-luvun maisemassa (‘I am still far away: Martti Haavio – P. Mustapää in the 1920s’, 1978).

P. Mustapää, alias Martti Haavio fishing. Photo: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura.​

Sources and further information on P. Mustapää’s works (In Finnish)

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