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[Warning: Ending is PG] Tending the birds of Saaremaa


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Bina is a shortened version of a sestina. Not usually rhymed, the ends words on the lines repeat : 1, 2, 2, 1, and 2/1. I put three binas together, then for the fourth stanza I chose: 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2/1. Syllabic, not metrical. Saaremaa is an island belonging to Estonia.

He tends to the birds of his Saaremaa.
Embraces linger only in the past,
Clandestine lovers are lost in the past:
His now is for the birds of Saaremaa.
    At ninety, his past, too, is Saaremaa.

He will clean the hanging bath before dawn
And refill it. He will restore the seed
To the feeder; his pension is the seed
To motivate his rising before dawn.
    At ninety, the island's seed plies his dawn.

Never married, he has named every one
Of the birds that remained or have not stayed
To sing, to swim, to feast, to fly. He stayed
For them: there was no other way or one.
    At ninety, he who stayed is the blest one.

Six Soviet soldiers that over-stayed
Their welcome are in his cellar. Not one
Of them lived to shed progenitor's seed,
Not one of them greeted another dawn.
    At ninety, the past hides in Sareemaa.

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The fate of the Baltics, under Trumputin, is distressing. I fell in love with pix of Estonia and their capital, Tallinn. Their embassy in DC was kind enough to post (THEY posted) the sestina I sent to the ambassador.

Saaremaa is an island off the mainland. Under Soviet oppression, people did live there but travel TO it, even for Estonians, was restricted.

I am not even for the death penalty. I served in the peacetime (82-88) Navy. I wanted A Soviet loss in this poem.

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Marti, I love your application of this form of which I know nothing about. I just know that it works remarkably well for the topic at hand. The ending, the last verse, was unexpected for me as an American coming from an American, but as an Estonian I feel it, I get it.

Why I'm Estonian, I still wonder. Why the Estonian language, my first language -- it still fascinates me and makes me wonder. Why this language, this Finno-Ugric language, one of only a few among so many others that surround it on the Continent that, like English, are Proto-Indo European languages? It's a mystery to me. I do know that having another culture has opened up a wider world for me even when I look at what I enjoy here on this board and even going back to the Poetry Connection days: a better understanding of a worldwide membership, of our members who are not only from North America where I live, but from Europe, Asia, everywhere.

I would love to know more details about myself, to take one of those genetic DNA tests I see advertised, but something makes me pause when I consider that it would involve handing blood tissue to some corporation for non-medical purposes, lol. In any case, thank you for this submission. I loved this poem.


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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9 minutes ago, Tinker said:

I love the map, thanks for sharing it Tony.   


Here's another one, Judi. It features Estonian couples in national costumes from the various counties including Saaremaa.



Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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