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Syndic Literary Journal

Long-Ago Life Shimmers Through

Written by Ly Seppel

Translated from the Estonian by Ilmar Lehtpere

Narrated by Kristine Doll


Long-ago life shimmers through

the pool of sunlight on the house wall

the half finished wood-pile

the whispering of the bracken

How here in 1948 a collective farm was made

people ordered into the town hall together

The old coastal Swedes’ red paint 

on the walls of the village hall

won’t peel off it glimmers in patches

in the slanting rays of the evening sun

Nothing came of the young cherry shrub

today it lost its very last leaves

Nothing came of the collective farm either

but the founders are alive to this very day


And burrowing its secret ways

in the sandy soil beneath the grass

is the root of memory

It knows

It remembers everything


Ly Seppel is an Estonian poet and translator as well as a psychotherapist. Her latest publication in English translation (together with her husband Andres Ehin) is Shortening the Candle’s Wick (Carcanet, 2018).
Ilmar Lehtpere is an Estonian poet and translator. His most recent translations into English are On the Edge of a Sword  by Kristiina Ehin (Arc, 2018),  and Shortening the Candle’s Wick by Andres Ehin and Ly Seppel (Carcanet, 2018).
Kristine Doll is a poet and translator whose work has been published internationally. “My Friends” from her first collection Speak to Me Again was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry. Doll’s translations include poetry and memoir in Catalan, English and Spanish.  She is professor of World Languages and Cultures at Salem State University, Salem, MA, USA.





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