Tag Archives: Henry Lyman

Henry Lyman

Henry Lyman’s book The Land Has Its Say was published by Open Field Press in 2015. The Elizabeth Press has published his translations from the work of the Estonian poet Aleksis Rannit. He edited Robert Francis’s posthumous collection Late Fire, Late Snow and an anthology of New England poetry, After Frost, both published by University of Massachusetts Press. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.


A Pool in the River

Draining no less slowly than it brims it stays in sun
between two mudbanks, takes on a look of sky
at noonday, and where shadows cut across reveals
a few small fish suspended. It holds a shape where bare
dark women once undid their braids and swam
among the splashing children. Where a century later
farmers dropped their breeches and waded in,
cupping in hand what in two hundred years
Claire and Joyce would part with their breaststrokes
while Max stood waist deep and Ed floated face up
watching for some sign of rain. Sun and shadow mingle
as I dream of generations diving to the bottom
summer after summer and always out beyond them
off wherever Max has gone and Joyce a decade after him
then Claire. Behind me Ed at ninety-seven
is mowing even still, and I see him with the others
coming through the trees, making the best of a river
by handing each other down into it daily, canes
left lying at the edge of what would casually lift them.

Aleksis Rannit

Translator’s Note:

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.
Touch me
as a month of leaves
would bless a month
of quiet candles.




Puudeta talv.
Puuduta mind
vaikinud küünlakuu auks.