Poetry by Uku Masing

by Uku Masing
translated by Ivar Ivask, Küllike Saks

ONLY THE MISTS ARE REAL

The wind is a shuttle made of elm-wood,
I am but an airy web of dusk
Which God’s tapering fingers of a unicorn’s bone
Wove in the warm room of the stars.
The wind is a shuttle, but of what yarn the woof
On the earthen loom is, I do not know;
The radiance of mists, perhaps, when their power died,
Since my head did not reach to the clouds.

Translated by Ivar Ivask

 

You are the mountain that our herds fear,
for the large stars hold council there every night,
also Your house guests and the shadows of Your longings
each one has a chain of Your thoughts on their belt.
Knowing that all winds pass once and dwindle,
men deny Your existence,
even when they see You being crucified again,
they still continue to catch their lost days.
And when they weep, You laugh.

Oh, let us leave today, to travel together.
You are the wind and I am Your tree,
the wave before You, and the rose from Jericho,
You are the sky, and I the waxing moon
and the windship has oars of light.

Translated by Külliki Saks

 

At night You grow into a lake. From its bed
all who were petrified in the limestone suddenly rise
as if Your hands in Your lap had uttered spells
or the solitude around us had brightened into dawn.

Do You know or only feel that You are greater now
than time? All of a sudden you reached infinity,
the tree leaves softened so that root is more root
and what was just an islet grew into an island…
And when You peep at the tingling spirit in the summer
can You see that two people have come?
One pulsates so joyfully that he has no peer,
and the other is a corpse only one span in height.
You are the silk of their flowing robes,
for them the forest of Your eyes is full of ancient flowers,
in Your laughter are songs that once hardened into jade
and the vase of Your blood cradles sea anemones.

Do you feel it? Don’t answer! Being alive like this
is painful for a while, at the same time it’s just like dreaming,
because clubmoss twines all about my temple veins,
so lush that it settles like a forest round my head,
which has long served only to beat against iron walls
and never once to sense where heaven begins.
But now a flickering ray of sun combs down
the bent-grass sprouting from the grey moss of my hair.

Translated by Küllike Saks

 

Strange that Your eyes do not fear me
when the day has thrown the dead overboard
and has not a single splinter of skull on its belt.
What I’m looking at, I dare not ask myself
since surely I would never find out,
it might be something that heaves beyond the lakeshore
on that hill where the wind is water and earth.
For they are as clear as if on a winter noon
in a snow-drifted field I’m having a forgotten dream
that tastes just like the first apple
suddenly laughing on the sky’s edge in the snow.

Tiny furrows twitching like light
between your eyebrows, whether they are of pain or joy,
I do not know, but like ancient stone quarries
their summer heat gladdens my heart.

And I curse my hands for being so cowardly,
for being made of clay as they are,
the fences of the sun-flock go unthanked
on my overly short path.
Why can’t my hands do something good
to Your face, so serious and still,
why am I a child who peeps round the corner
at the foreign visitor with head held high?