The moon was glowing the forest darkening the swing creaking the pond shimmering
the lemmeleht in the overgrown water its blossom calls a maiden
come from here over the water take me and bear me
the lemmeleht seemed to move the pond did not ripple
what will be given in return it knows how to make demands the lemmelehtthe plant knows how to haggle the dawn grass to reckon
the face of the maiden wilts but the lemmeleht burns side by side with a star in the pond
the maiden pleads the lemmeleht burns
promises to give jewellery and silver beads pendants and brooches and from over the heart a clasp but the lemmeleht stays silent under its leaf a frog just croaks
she promises to give her father's plough her brother's horse her sisters's spinning wheel her mother's cows Maasik Lehik Lillik
and little Muu and grandmother's loom
the lemmeleht doesn't move demands something else it glows like day it rings like a bell the maiden pleads and begs and
no help to be found anywhere
and quietly the lemmeleht says promise me your home your home promise me nothing else the lemmeleht stirred the water rippled
and she promised her home
and the lemmelehtwas near her mouth beneath her heart and on her head but her home was gone
the lake was left the maiden tore fescue from her head from beneath her heart scraped the knowing plant from her mouth she struck the lemmelehtthe fescue didn't argue any more the lemmeleht lay still
her home was gone the lake was left
a duck quacked and a frog croaked
by Kauksi Ülle translated by Ilmar Lehtpere and Mari Kalkun
*The lemmeleht is a mythical plant in southern Estonian Seto folklore.
News from the Centre: many thanks to everyone who entered our International Poetry Competition. The judging process has now begun, and our shortlist and winners will be announced in December!
On Monday 21 September from 4-5pm, Peter Hainsworth and David Robey will be discussing Dante in a free event at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford. They will be giving a very short introduction to Dante and his work in the 750th anniversary year of his birth. Visit the website for more details.
‘Lemmeleht’ is copyright © Kauksi Ülle, 2015. It is reprinted from Six Estonian Poets (Arc Publications, 2015) by permission of Arc Publications.
Notes from Arc Publications:
Kauksi Ülle is a poet and cultural activist. She has become something of a symbolic figure, an icon of ethno-futurism, the focal point of an ebullient era with its own worldview, currents of literary life, identity issues, conflicts and impassioned debate. ‘Lemmeleht’ appears in the book Six Estonian Poets, in which the editor, Doris Kareva, presents us with the work of five highly individual poets of the younger generation together with that of the most influential figures of their parents' generation. You can read more about the book on the Arc website.
IlmarLehtpere had a bilingual upbringing in Estonian and English. He is the translator of Kristiina Ehin's The Drums of Silence (Oleander Press, Cambridge, 2007), which was awarded the Poetry Society Corneliu M. Popescu Prize for European Poetry in Translation. His other translations of Kristiina Ehin's work are Põletades pimedust -Burning the Darkness - An Dorchadas á Dhó (trilingual Estonian-English-Irish selected poems, Coiscéim, Dublin, 2009), A Priceless Nest(short stories, Oleander Press, Cambridge, 2009), Päevaseiskaja -South-Estonian Fairy Tales (Huma, Tallinn, 2009) and Noorkuuhommik- New Moon Morning (selected poems, Huma, Tallinn, 2007). He has also translated her play, A Life Without Feathers, and has already started working on her next collection of poems in English.
Read more about the work of the translators: Ilmar Lehtpere and Mari Kalkun.
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