Ivar Ivask Mall JüRma - Essay

Mall JüRma

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)


Ivask's fifth collection of poetry has a remarkably meaningful title, Verikivi (Bloodstone), which sounds somewhat like an anagram of his name. Actually the title refers to a family ring that Ivask inherited from his father. The ring symbolizes not only the latest cycle in the poet's life, but other cycles as well….

It is the author's most personal book of verse, reflecting his innermost feelings. Alongside meditative nature poetry, motifs of life and death, separation, loss and rediscovery of love dominate. Death of family members and the loss of a close friend have influenced the author's verse.

The loss of his fatherland is … deeply felt after a visit to Estonia. The poems reflect the rediscovery of one's home as an intimate and secure place and a new appreciation of the world. They speak about the search for "life's vein of gold in the dust and ashes of dreams." Such lines were inspired by the exhausted gold mines of Colorado. Themes of loneliness, rootlessness, alienation, homelessness and assimilation occur. The forests of Colorado remind the poet of the pines and fir trees of his northern homeland. He compares his co-exiles with aerial rooted mangroves, detached from their native soil, yet continuing to grow in a foreign environment. (p. 470)

Despite all disillusionment, the poet's creative spirit forges forward with unsubdued vitality…. Ivask's latest poetry is not only a reflection of sad and painful memories, it is a creative act that gives significance and substance to his life and work…. His free verse is supple, and its often deliberately simple wording seems to engage the reader in a direct dialogue. (pp. 470-71)

Mall Jürma, "World Literature in Review: 'Verikivi. Luuletusi 1973–1976'," in World Literature Today (copyright 1977 by the University of Oklahoma Press), Vol. 51, No. 3, Summer, 1977, pp. 470-71.