In the third line of this poem, lehekuiselt (nom. lehekuu) could be translated simply as “May.” But its root meaning (lehe, leaf + kuu, moon, month) is “the month of leaves.” Similarly, in the last line, the root meaning of küünlakuu, February, is “the month of candles”: (küünlal, candle + kuu, moon, month).
Aleksis Rannit (poet) was born in 1914 in Kallaste, Estonia, and served as curator of Slavic and East European collections at Yale. He is the author of seven poetry collections as well as numerous essays on poetry, art, and comparative aesthetics. His selected poems, Valimik, appeared shortly before his death in 1985.
Henry Lyman (translator) has published his translations from Rannit’s work in Poetry, The Nation, and other periodicals, and in two selections brought out by The Elizabeth Press. A collection of his own poems, Late Fire, Late Snow, was published by Open Field Press in 2016.
Winter with no trees.
as a month of leaves
would bless a month
of quiet candles.
vaikinud küünlakuu auks.