Weather-beaten Poetry


Tuuldunud luule

Weather-Beaten Poetry (Poetry, Estonian)
Published by Varrak, 1998, pp. 184

It was in 1887, when for the first time one anonymous versemaker used the word "Tuulemaa" (a Land of Winds) as a synonym for Estonia in one of his poems. For more than a century, a number of outstanding poets have been using and further developing the motif of Tuulemaa. On the one hand, the motif has taken roots in patriotic poetry, on the other hand, the motif is confirmed by the geopolitical reality of Estonia. It is situated on the boundary of the different cultures of East and West; it is open to winds from all points of the compass, which could either mark progressive influences or hostile invading forces.

Peep Ilmet (1948), who published his second selected collection Weather-beaten Poetry last year, has made wind the dominating motif of his poetry. In his poems this wind motif can be found in every possible aspect and shade of meaning, giving his texts the impression of constant billowing, moving, and blowing. Another keyword,  significantly often repeated, is "mind", which in the present-day context is often "cracked" or deformed in some way. We can guess at the attempts here to restore an archaic Finno-Ugric way of perceiving the world in his poems. There are attempts to unveil some kind of primeval revelation, which also give specific meaning to Ilmet's motifs of wind. According to Estonian folk belief, the movement of ancestors’ spirits raises wind. Ilmet's poetry is therefore, like any mythology, an attempt to restore the original order of the world, to find harmony with the spirits of ancestors, and to overcome the "cracked mind", if we cite the title of one of his earlier collection of poetry. His ecological motifs, which reach epigram-like sharpness in a few poems about every-day politics, stem from the same ethical and nature-conscious worldview of ancestors.

The form of Ilmet's poetry also helps to evoke this archaic picture of the world. His poems do not imitate Finno-Ugric folk songs, but their suggestive ways are not very different from the incantations of the shamans of primitive peoples. On the other hand, Ilmet is well familiar with modern music, his texts have been sung by a rhythm'n blues group "Ultima Thule". These songs evoke the sadness and gloom over the centuries of retreat before destroyers and conquerors.

Text by Rutt Hinrikus and Janika Kronberg

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