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Tähetund : valik luuletusi ja poeeme door…
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Tähetund : valik luuletusi ja poeeme (editie 1966)

door Betti Alver, Ott Kangilaski (Kujundaja)

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Lid:alanteder
Titel:Tähetund : valik luuletusi ja poeeme
Auteurs:Betti Alver
Andere auteurs:Ott Kangilaski (Kujundaja)
Info:Tallinn : Eesti Raamat, 1966
Verzamelingen:Jouw bibliotheek
Waardering:*****
Trefwoorden:In Estonian language, Eesti keeles, Eesti luule, Estonian poetry, facsimile edition, 2021 reading challenges

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Tähetund; valik luuletusi ja poeeme door Betti Alver

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Star Hour
Review of the Eesti Kirjandusmuuseum online facsimile edition (2014) of the Eesti Raamat hardcover original (1966)
The collection of poems "Star Hour" was published in 1966 and was sold out instantly. In addition to its original poems, the collection also included Estonian translations of Kristjan Jaak Peterson's German language poems.
"Star Hour" was associated with an important event in the poet's life, the poetess turned 60 years of age. The publication of the poetry collection was a cultural event - Alver returned with dignity to her central place in Estonian poetry.
- translation of the Estonian language synopsis.
I had an odd reaction to Betti Alver's first poetry collection Tolm ja tuli (Dust and Fire) (1936) as its overall themes of sorcery and hauntings reminded me of doom metal lyrics written many years before their time. Tähetund (1966) is a more balanced collection and is in fact an anthology of much of her previous work, although many of the poems had not been previously published.

In addition to a selection of poems from Tolm ja tuli (I estimate about 20 of the original 57 or so), Tähetund contains a substantial portion of the early narrative poem Lugu valgest varesest (The Tale of a White Crow) (1931) and about 100 other poems or fragments dated from 1931 to 1966 and 3 poems by early Estonian poet Kristjan Jaak Peterson (1801-1822) translated from the German language. The collection represents Alver's re-emergence as a major poet after her period of silence (also due to suppression by association by the Russian authorities) following her first husband Heiti Talvik's deportation and resulting death in the gulags in the Soviet Russian occupation of Estonia after the Second World War.

The overall effect of Tähetund is an overview of a master of poetry, from tiny excerpts to long narrative structures. These are all very musically rhymed and Alver extends her rhyming repertoire by often introducing other language and names from classical literature. My so-called 'doom and gloom' poems from Tolm ja tuli are spread throughout the collection, so that they do not have a dominant depressing effect. Some of them, such as Demon of Freedom, are printed intact, but with their former titles removed. Or a poem such as Witch has been re-titled with its first line Heavily the Wax.

The collection includes what is perhaps Alver's most endearing and enduring poem Tulipunane vihmavari (Fiery Red Umbrella) which had its own self-titled anthology printed later in 2012. The poem tells of a little girl's yearning for her own brightly coloured umbrella which she likens to the sun and her joy with it and then her sadness at its loss when it is broken and how nothing would ever replace it. Alver's rhyming makes for a difficult translation which loses the original's musicality, but here is an excerpt from its conclusion:
I suddenly didn't squirm anymore
Did not realize in the least.
My little sun on the bench
was broken
It was broken.
It was broken in the middle.

The big sun
seemed far away all at once.
The tables and ceilings were the same,
but much lower.

I was little
I didn't understand anything
I did not understand, did not notice anything else
when I put my head against the wall
and cried
my life’s
first mourning.
I didn’t know how to ask, to answer
nor with words to complain.
I wouldn't let myself be comforted.

Mother promised to buy
a new umbrella that was even nicer.
But a new one,
A new one,
I didn't want one anymore.


Trivia and Links
A YouTube stream of the documentary biographical film Betti Alver - Ilmauks on irvakil (The Door to the World is Partially Open) (2020) is still posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFDxZ1u-pPA as of this writing May 15, 2021, although it will likely be deleted soon. It is in the Estonian language but without subtitles, there was a sound problem at the front end, which isn't corrected until about 6 minutes into the stream.

An English language biography of Betti Alver can be read at the Estonian Literature Centre.

Facsimile, text and download (epub format) format editions of "Tähetund" can be read online or downloaded at the Kreutzwaldi Sajand (Kreutzwald Centenary) site of the Estonian Literary Museum.

A download (pdf format) edition of "Tähetund" can be downloaded (laadi alla pdf) at the Estonian Literary Museum. ( )
  alanteder | May 15, 2021 |
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