Andres Ehin
Andres Ehin was born in Estonia in 1940. He has been awarded many prizes for his poetry, including the Estonian National Prize 2001 for his poetry collection Subconsciousness is always jolly. He has travelled extensively and read his poetry at many international festivals. His poems have been translated into 30 languages. He has also translated English-language poets such as T S Eliot, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti into Estonian

Andres Ehin

deep underground breathe
                                              buried in dirt
if you dust one clean
                                 her cornflower plumage
                                 will shine bright and blue
such birds are
                                 moose beetle swallows
                                 ultramarine mole-eagles
with these birds
                          estonians play at being cherokees
                          cherokees play at being estonians 
but these birds will allow
                                       only indigenous peoples
                                        to phich their blue feathers
we estonians and cherokees come
                                        from the land of tricoloured dogs
                                        and underground birds
but where are we headed   

Translated by Patrick Cotter, Ireland

Cornflower is Estonian national flower, one kind of swallow (smokeswallow in Estonian, Hirundo rustica in Latin) is our national bird.
For some, Estonians are Indians of Europe.

to be a dog-apartment

to be a dog-apartment with three barking rooms
with a snout-bathroom
where one tap dribbles cold
and the other hot slobber

to be a dog-apartment with floors
that howl towards moon-yellow ceiling lamps at nights

to be a dog-apartment
that detests the smell of cats

to be a dog-apartment
whose sofa hairs bristle up
even at the stench
                             of distant felines


Translated by the author in cooperation with Richard Adang, USA


fish livers have been strewn on the ground
nuns chirp their songs under the ice
night tugs day by its feet
in towers clocks sprout like ears of wheat
the motley eggs of passion roll in the blue grass of sobriety

wind is heavy like radium
across good and evil
it flows like molten serum
cataracted forests
foam beneath us

to be sea
to embrace tender and ethereal islands
cats’ eyes full of the motes of autumn mists

away!  away!
here the satrap tried to place his heel on the last of primeval time
here dogs kiss the night

away!  away!
here silence has noodles up its nose
here punishment flares behind the mountains
like a great woolen maze
here snow grows like the balance of payments
its suffering is exhibited on a golden stand

your breasts expand
through the café window
like two pagodas

they are fondled by the young evening
love is polling them
like a glinting knife

screeching trees
recount on the boulevards
all they have heard
on the ignorance of humans
the disgusting behaviour of automobiles

lightning bolts hang
stationary in the sky
they sparkle there even now
dust and soot will gild them
will do their work

the Lord’s lightning fails to touch earth
under the tree no one can
embrace the salamander
of heavenly fire

even without hearing we know the score
about the stagnation in paradise
about plots
about putsches
about the corruptability of angels

Translated by Patrick Cotter, Ireland