Days of Grace by Doris Kareva, trans. by Miriam McIlfatrick-Ksenofontov
Doris Kareva is one of Estonia’s leading poets, admired especially for poems that balance precision and control with passion and bravado. Her achievement, according to Estonian Literature, is in writing poems which are both ‘plentiful and fragile like a crystal…balancing on the line between the human soul and the universe, between sound and silence’. Days of Gracespans over forty years of her poetic output, showing how the sustained depth and clarity of her poetry lies in her ability to create ambiguity and suggest harmony at the same time, with a multiplicity of meanings generating the opposite of clarity: a form of hinting which at its most illuminating becomes utterly oracle-like.
Such is the metaphysical sensitivity of her poetry that its moral charge is sensed almost physically. She has also been called ‘a priestess of love’ who is fearless as well as discreet in her portrayal of love that is so ‘pure and elevating like mountain air’ that she seems to be writing from another time or dimension.
‘There is a fierce austerity and dark humour in the language.’ – Ciaran Carson
‘McIlfatrick-Ksenofontov’s translations capture the barely capturable essence of Doris Kareva’s poems which, quite suddenly, make me think of snowflakes, crystalline, and yet on the cusp of disappearance.’ – Marius Kociejowski