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

what will be given
in return
it knows how to make demands
the lemmeleht
the 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

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 lemmeleht
was 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 lemmeleht
the 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

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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