Kärlekens etos i Gösta Ågrens 1960-talslyrik
The Ethos of Love in Gösta Ågren’s Poems from the 1960s
Gösta Ågren is one of the most appreciated poets in contemporary Finland-Swedish literature. Nevertheless, his early works dating back to the 60s have been considered (not least by himself) to be of little interest. The common opinion is that his engagement with left-wing politics impoverished the aesthetic aspects of his poetry; when released from these ideological bonds in the late 1970s he became an important poet.
The aim of this article is to call into question the reasons put forth by the negligence of his early poetry. Ågren is one of the earliest examples of the 1960s left-wing movement in Finland-Swedish poetry, which per se is of literary historical interest. However, he combines his Marxist perspective with ideas recognizable in a broader tradition of history of ideas, which makes his ideological and ethical undertaking complex. In addition, he integrates political and existential aspects in his poems at an early stage.
In this article, I examine a central theme in Ågren’s early poetry from the 1960s: love. I relate his thoughts on the topic to various thinkers such as eodor W. Adorno & Max Horkheimer, R.W. Emerson, C.G. Jung and Rudolf Steiner. Although love between man and woman in many respects is a timeless issue, the contextual aspects of love are important in Ågren’s poems. Furthermore, in his early poetry dating from the rather dystopic post-war period in Europe love has an emphasized ethical function. In his efforts to find a solution to the problems of a contemporary world in distress, the very concept of “woman” becomes a metaphor for ideas such as peace, hope, love and freedom. Clearly, this is an idealist but also (more surprisingly) a feminist standpoint.