Marie Under (1883-1980): The Orphan

Translated by Timothy Adès

An Estonian poem

Both texts online, Modern Poetry in Translation

Maadligi, vettligi maja,
külgpidi sees –
laeni täis lainete kaja,
kajakad läve ees.
Orb oma ainsama lamba
õhtul koju tõi mäelt,
all poiste pilava kamba,
kinni pidades häält.
Istus ja nuttis siis hilja,
jalgadel merevaht.
Küpset ruugavat vilja –
põimis palmikut kaht.
Viires kas hüüdis ta nime?
Kuu kuldas lainetel tee.
Ühtaegu valge ja pime –
kaelas tal voogude kee…
Maadligi, vettligi maja,
külgpidi sees –
laeni täis lainete kaja.
Pisarad läve ees.

House bent to earth and water
One side sloping more
Echo of waves in the rafters
Seagulls around the door
Orphan bringing her lambkin
Home at dusk from the hill
Bully-boy gang was sneering,
Saw her silent, still.
Late night waking and weeping
Sea-foam on her feet
Ripe gold corn she was weaving
Twin plaits braided neat.
Was it a tern that called her?
Gilding a wave-track, the moon.
Here the light, there the shadow,
Pearl-string streaming down.
House bent to earth and water
One side sloping more
Echo of waves in the rafters
Sea of tears at the door

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

This entry was posted in Poems and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.