Sand martins sea-stone blackgulls sea-foam whiteyou screech over the harboursweep over the churchescircle over the city wallsthe breaking waves and mebirds city birdswhat tales do you tell of Tallinn
You tell ofhow the alarm bells were runghow mothers ran with their childrenwhen everywhere walls were in the wayand the Russian bombers kept coming and comingfrom the eastwhen it was all burning screaming and crumblingcracking and bursting
Even now I hear the weepingthis stony medieval beauty’sthis age-old city’sblack dresses rustlingI feel the windthe soothing soft wind of the presentthat makes feathers and sand fly
In the original Estonian:
Kaldapääsukesed merekivimustadröövkajakad rannavahuvalgedkiljute sadama kohalsööstate üle kirikutetiirlete kohal linnamüürimurdlainete ja minulinnud linnalinnudmida te pajatate Tallinnast
Räägite jukuidas siin hädakelli löödikuidas emad lastega jooksidkui kõikjal olid müürid eesja Vene pommilennukid tulid ja tulidida poolt pealekui kõik põles karjus ja varisespragunes ja lõhkes
Kuulen praegu veel nuttuselle kivise keskaegse kaunitariiidvana linnaleinakleitide kahinattunnen tuultvaigistavat pehmet olevikutuultmis lennutab sulgi ja liiva
by Kristiina Ehin
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This untitled poem, copyright © Kristiina Ehin, 2010, is taken from The Scent of Your Shadow, translated by Ilmar Lehtpere, and published in a bilingual edition by Arc Publications.
Notes courtesy of Arc:
Kristiina Ehin was born in Rapla, Estonia in 1977.
She received an M.A. in Comparative and Estonian Folklore from Tartu
University in 2004. She has published five volumes of poetry in her
native Estonia and has won a number of prizes there, including Estonia’s
most prestigious poetry prize for her fourth volume, written during a
year spent as a nature reserve warden on an uninhabited island off
Estonia’s north coast. She has also published a book of short stories
and written a play. The Drums of Silence (Oleander Press,
Cambridge, 2007), a volume of her selected poems in English translation,
was awarded the Poetry Society's Corneliu M. Popescu Prize for European
Poetry in Translation in 2007.
The Scent of Your Shadow, from which this poem is taken, was
the Poetry Book Society's Recommended Translation for summer 2010, and
features an introduction by the poet Sujata Bhatt. In her introduction,
Bhatt describes Ehin as 'a visionary poet with a discerning and
distinctive voice, a voice resonant with genuine passion, close to the
primordial world of spirits and myths, but also rooted in history and
in contemporary life.'
You can read more selections from the book at this link, and find out more about Kristiina Ehin here.
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