Title: Sport 12

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, March 1994, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 12: Autumn 1994

Jenny Bornholdt — Estonian Songs

page 3

Jenny Bornholdt

Estonian Songs

Waking the birds

Wake birds,
the sky loses its dark
because of you, light
slowly coming around
the corner to surprise

A lion worries a bone
into morning
and berries come out
from behind their green

Boats in the harbour
planes in the sky
the wings and wheels of the
modern world are

The titles for these poems are taken from Veljo Tormis’s song titles on
his recording Forgotten Peoples, which is a set of six song cycles from the
region of Estonia through Karelia and towards Finland.

page 4

Sang the mother, sang her daughter

Life is sad,
sang the mother
sang her daughter,
life is so sad,
because we can’t read
and listen
at the same time.

The arrival of wedding guests

All night my friend tells me
she loves, she loves, she
loves her life.

She is my wedding guest
she arrives with her face
of happiness
and someone strikes up
a tune.

page 5

Instructing the newly-weds

Listen bride
listen groom
don’t be afraid.
At night, the dark trees at the end
of the street—how frightening
they seem, then
morning comes and uncovers
nothing but leaves.

Praising the cook

They say the sexual impulse
is like a fiery horse.

When you break an egg
one handed

into the frying pan
it sounds like distant hooves
crossing a dusty plain.

page 6

When I, Chick, was growing up

I learnt many things
like what happiness
can do.

When he said
this spoon’s
for you

I felt so happy
and, years later,
so very sad.

A son or a daughter

On a night when the
moon moved solemnly
about the sky
a third daughter was born.
The unhappy doctor
went to the father
I’m sorry, he said,
it’s another girl.

Girls are good luck
said the father
If you don’t have a daughter
you only know you’re alive
because your shoes move.

page 7

My sister, my little cricket

Listen sister,
sometimes it seems life’s
not worth a bowl
of old onions
but, like travel,
you should stick with it
for the points of interest
along the way.

Take love for instance,
that’s interesting
in any language.

The ox climbed a fir tree

The ox climbed a fir tree
to see what he could see.

He cried ah, my love
this view from above
is quite splendid,
you are smaller
than a dove.

He cried
ah, my love
I am enthralled
but now I can’t see you
at all.

page 8

Ending and going home

Ending and going home
to where love
lives, high
above the town.

My favourite place,
where you find
sweet apples fallen
on the soft gound.

Urging her into the boat

I’ll take some of that expensive brie
for Beverly, he said.

Beverly? Beverly!
I cried, quick, get into the
boat. O shy and beautiful
Beverly, bring your brie
and come with me.

page 9

A weeping maiden

The world’s in a
spin. Yellow continents turn
and turn until the
little caravan of feeling topples
forward and runs wildly
down the road.


Sleep gently little one
the world is a ball
it knocks quietly
against your window
in the wind
sleep gently
nothing will harm you.