24 Apr “Days of Grace” – Doris Kareva (Bloodaxe Books 2018) reviewed for Mslexia by María Castro Domínguez
“Days of Grace” – Doris Kareva (Bloodaxe Books 2018) reviewed for Mslexia by María Castro Domínguez
Doris Kareva is one of Estonia’s most widely acclaimed poets. And her mind-stirring poetry collection “Days of Grace” certainly underscores her pre-eminence.
The collection´s foreword, written by her translator Miriam McIlfatrick-Ksenofontov, comments on Kareva´s last text ‘Lesson in Harmony’, where Doris explains how her creative process was stimulated by her father the composer Hillar Kareva; consequently many of Kareva´s poems have a special musicality, which I suspect must be even more evident in Estonian.
The collection is divided into three parts: ‘Pass of Silence’, ‘Clouds Letter to the Sand’ and ´Leeward into the Light’, each evoking an emotional response to three different stages in the passage of life, beginning with: ´Yes. / In the beginning was the Word´, and ending with: ‘then the mind within will see/ the mind without’. The majority of poems are small and all are untitled, sustaining an implicit continuity throughout.
Kareva touches nature – her poems bring to mind the French painter Claude Monet- but with a spiritual and universal impressionism that connects with the human experience. Each poem transcends artificial frontiers and achieves a completeness that seeps deep; polarities between nature and humanity, light and dark, blend softly together.
In one of the stanzas of the first part the poetic voice powerfully claims: ‘All you need will come your way / in one or another veiled form. / If you recognize it / it will be yours’; finishing with a shocking line: ‘The cost comes later’; which brings to mind Oscar Wilde´s quote: There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
Doris´ clear minimalism, latent in lines like: ‘Stay uncut crystal’ or ‘twigging to the dream’ takes us to a higher level of meaning where less is much more. Kareva´s poems offer the reader her unique vision of the world and like her poetic voice says: ‘When I write/ I shepherd unheeding words’.
The poems of “Days of Grace” shine with a lyricism and emotion that lingers on, like a beautiful tune slipping forever in our heads.
(A seaside house) by Doris Kareva
A seaside house
always feels like it is a ship,
Every night it goes wandering
across endless oceans,
Around it drift the stars,
in its heart weeps the hearth,
that no one kindles.
As a dog yearns for his master,
so a house by the sea
waits for its captain.
Translated by Tiina Aleman