In Retreat



We retreat and retreat  for thousands of winters

The end to retreating comes only in dreams.

We never reduced our forests to splinters

We left water clean in the lakes and in streams.


We never turned lands that we left into deserts

Our greed did not crave any alien blood.

For three thousand years we have toiled here at present

Our hopes bind us firmly to field and to flood.


The quest for the last sea once guided us westwards

And here we were met by the salty sea air.

A twist in the fate that had driven us forward

Changed all our old songs and bleached white our hair.


Now we stand in retreat like trees in the forest

Our roots grounded deep here for five hundred years.

We have been deported to Siberian forests

Estonia still we have refused to forswear.


Pursued and driven with sword and with fire

Expected to scatter and fade in exile

Though many have tried to tramp us to mire

Our seed is yet strong, the earth still fertile.


And as new war clouds are looming in heaven

We yearn for an island we could call our own.

A White Ship would ferry us over together

If only such haven our eyes could behold.


We feel no disdain and no envy for others,

And though we retreat, we still shall survive.

And all our roots into thick turf has gathered

A language born in the twilight of times. 

Translated by Krista Kaer

First appeared in Linnamägi tuulte vallas. A Drumlin in the Wind

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