Wednesday 8 July 2009

Kristiina Ehin's The Drums of Silence (trans. Ilmar Lehtpere)

Translated from Estonian, The Drums of Silence won The Poetry Society's Corneliu M Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation in 2007. The book can be purchased from Thanks to George Ttoouli for introducing me to Ehin's work.

you learn a foreign language
and chirp the dark sap of your feelings out
but the tall trees of my childhood
have rolled up their swings
and are fleeing for the sea

"Come what will"

the stars crackle
like fires on marsh islands
"your heart falls into my lap"

the moon is making a heavy rope
from the hair of a corpse
and is coming

"the moon howls"

a good man
puts a woman out to grow like woundwort


long so long are the years
life is fleeting

"woman of gold"

what are we to believe then
here in this land of tree worshippers
where the pulpits still flow with spilt blood
the tree gods were without

last stanza of "the afternoon sun..."

the time is at hand
when you dance your ungainly dance
rub your hips against your shadow


the time is at hand
when the iron door of your heart is open
earthen tiles will not burn
the handrail will not waver
you can see what mineral you're made of
what plain water
what rarefied air

"the time is at hand"

fidelity--rough as a man's cheek
raw meet that draws you close
a trail that remains
a trail that can't be abandoned

last stanza of "I smell you at the crossroads..."

our mouths close
innocence and death
tremble in my nostrils
innocence and death
vibrate in your fingers


two days later we were suddenly superfluous
our glances strayed along the muddy town
soaked through
we sat in the snack bar
and didn't see through each other's city faces

"on the way to Siberia"

magnanimous night
the gentle fever of sweet scent
in your hair

opening of "magnanimous night"

woods barren of berries and mercies

"it is a time you can see"

...thoughts those free elusive
fly hither and thither
looking for food from feelings

"to walk and to walk my own road"

the steep shores of sincerity

"down below the city growls"

I paid and went
in dream's muddy buses
no notion of waking
no fear of inspection

the last stanza of "in a dream"

the day lingers
and it's gone
suddenly even the maps are frozen solid

the last stanza of "fog appears imperceptibly"

icicles drip and
the hall door is open
so we can cry
our laughter out

spring came
over our feathered shoulders
and our hearts were kindled aflame like
cleansing spring fires

"man and bird"

dreams are like deer
shy and self-contained
I am a hunter on the foggy shore of dreams
a hunter who never takes aim
but never takes
her eyes off

first stanza of "dreams are like deer"

1 comment:

  1. Ilmar Lehtpere has given me permission to repost his email here.

    Dear Carrie Etter,

    I thought you might like to know that a new selection of my translations of Kristiina's poetry has recently been published by Coiscéim in Ireland. It also includes Irish translations by Gabriel Rosenstock from my English translations. The book's title is Põletades pimedust - Burning the Darkness - An Dorchadas à Dhó. A Priceless Nest, Kristiina's short stories in my translation, also appeared recently, published by Oleander. Arc will publish a new volume of my translations of her poems next year.

    Best wishes,
    Ilmar Lehtpere