Shortening the Candle’s Wick II

Gerhard Richter, Drei Kerzen (Three Candles), 1982

Over the wet alders the wind gallops
along the road raging, swinging a club.
Then tired out in the high pines’ lap
like a child after crying still sobs.

Wet, the colour of tree trunks, lifting up
her skirt’s hem, the old woman quietly goes.
Gathered from roadside bilberry shrubs
in her billy can the dark fires glow.


The Learned Pig


Shortening the Candle’s Wick

Do still come and step inside
and move through my mind,
pluck from time to time
a string on some instrument.
Touch the handle of the door,
and even make it rattle,
passing by for just a moment
let me hear you chortle.
Sit down for a little while,
don’t just keep on going,
sit down at the table
even if we aren’t eating.
Do still come and step inside
and rest your feet a bit,
in the crackling of the hearth
shift a piece of firewood.
Don’t just pass by without
me even noticing.
Don’t be afraid to come by
even when I’m dreaming.

Stay away only if
at the sunset hour,
in the damp and darkening
you have to rush up high
lifted by a sudden whirlwind –
so very far off that
the journey keeps you away,
so fearfully high up that
the eye cannot see.
Don’t be daunted, believe
in your own understanding,
even if there is no hope
of ever meeting again.
Shortening the candle’s wick
I am only now learning
in the language of the sleep faerie,
how in a spirit of joyful gratitude
I can let go of you.

. . . . . . – translated with Sadie Murphy


Shortening the Candle's Wick

These two poems by Ly Seppel have been translated by Ilmar Lehtpere and extracted from Ly Seppel & Andres Ehin, Shortening the Candle’s Wick, published by Little Island Press.

Please click here for three poems by Andres Ehin, also extracted from Shortening the Candle’s Wick.


Part of The Learned Pig’s Wolf Crossing editorial season, spring/summer 2017.

Cover image: Gerhard Richter, Drei Kerzen (Three Candles), 1982


The Learned Pig


The Learned Pig

Launched in November 2013, The Learned Pig is an online arts magazine with a love for plants and animals. Our thinking has grown out of our engagement with landscape aesthetics and environmental ethics and these days we try to bring together multiple perspectives on bodies and places, interspecies interactions, and alternative conceptions of that which has rather too frequently been defined as “nature” or “the animal”.