by Jüri Talvet

Honestly – I don't understand. Your son
you said had become a famous scientist
in America, but now it appears
that all those years of absence he hasn’t
done anything other than catch rats
in the New York subway, for lab cats
who in Descartes’ opinion have no soul
(cf Kundera,The unbearable lightness
of being, trans. L. Metsar, Monokkel
1992, p 174). As for me, I send a letter
to James Merrill with thanks for “Laboratory
Poem” which I translated in New York,
in drizzle that fell from dawn to dusk.
(Even rain has soul) In the land
of the dead I will always win friends.

(Trans. H. L. Hix)

Isegi vihmal on hing (Tartu: Tartu Ülikooli kirjastus, 2010)

Jüri Talvet's picture

Poet, essayist, translator and university professor Jüri Talvet was born in Pärnu, Estonia, in 1945. He graduated from the faculty of philology from the University of Tartu. He received his PhD degree in Western literatures from Leningrad / Saint Petersburg University (1981). Since 1992 he is Chairing Professor (of world literature) at Tartu University. He made his debut with a book of poems, Äratused (Awakenings, Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1981). Besides eight books of poetry, he has published six essay books in his native Estonian, as well as numerous translations (mainly from Spanish). In 2008 he edited a major anthology of American poetry in Estonian translation. He has been awarded Juhan Smuul Annual Prize of Literature (in essay, 1986), Juhan Liiv Poetry Prize (1997) and Ivar Ivask Memorial Prize of Essay and Poetry (2002). Selections of his poetry have appeared in translation in Spain (Elegía estonia y otros poemas, 2002; Del sueño, de la nieve, 2010), Canada (Estonian Elegy. Selected Poems, 2008; Of Snow, of Soul, 2010), France (De la neige, des rêves, 2011) and Romania (De din somn, de din zăpadă, 2011). Also, his essays have been translated into English, Spanish and Catalan.

Last updated September 19, 2011