Kalju Kangur

Poems Kalju Kangur

Short stories


Kalju Kangur (25. X 1925 – 15. I 1989) is known as one of the most merited and prolific translators of Russian poetry into Estonian. He also wrote fantastical children’s stories and short prose, as well as numerous volumes of poetry.

Kangur was born in the village of Vana-Kuuste, Tartumaa county, the son of a farmer, and from 1933 to 1939 attended Sipe primary school and from 1939 to 1944 Hugo Treffner’s Gymnasium in Tartu. In the post-war years he worked as a clerk and bookkeeper with several South Estonian enterprises. From 1955 he was a professional writer, living in Tartu and Peedu.

Kangur’s first poems appeared in the newspaper Postimees in 1942. In the late forties and early fifties Kangur took part in the gatherings of the Tartu Young Authors’ Association. To his older colleagues he seemed exceptionally skilful with words and inventive with rhymes. Sonnets appeared to come to him with ease. Thus Kangur’s works earned the necessary recommendations to pass into print. Kangur appeared in the journal Looming for his Laul Stalinist (‘Song of Stalin’, 1949). From 1951 to 1953 Kangur was in disgrace for political reasons. His first poetry collection, Mööda jalgteid (‘Along the Footpaths’) appeared in 1957. After the publication of his second poetry collection, Üksainus rukkipea (‘One Single Ear of Rye’, 1959), Kangur was accepted into the Estonian Writers’ Union. His family spent their summers at a house in Peedu owned by the Writers’ Union.

The literary scholar Oskar Kruus has called Kangur the bard of solitude. The poet avoids completely the social discourse, he is devoted to painting the natural landscape, his tones are mostly pastels, his keys minor. In his later collections of poetry motifs from medieval towns appear. Kangur’s town is visionary, nostalgic and romantic in mood. Kangur’s last collections became ever more playful and remote from the real world.

Kangur preferred to write in classical verse-forms. There were four collections of sonnets, and he was the most prolific sonnet-writer in Estonian literature. His undisputed mastery of rhyme provoked admiration, but also criticism, as if the strict rhythm and rhyme scheme were oppressive to thought.

Kangur also wrote children’s poetry, numerous miniatures, a few short stories and one novel. Among young readers his children’s stories Timbu-Limbu õukond ja lumemöldrid (‘The Court of Timbu-Limbu and the Snow-millers’, 1969) and Unenäod kristallkohvris (‘Dreams in a Crystal Suitcase’, 1979) were popular.

Kangur’s poetry has been translated into many languages, and set to music. Large numbers of Kangur’s translations of classical Russian poetry (by Pushkin, Bryusov, Blok, Balmont, Beliy, Sologub, Bunin and others) have appeared in collections and individual books.

L. P. (Translated by C. M.)

Books in Estonian

Mööda jalgteid. Luuletusi 1954–1956. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1957, 75 lk.
Üksainus rukkipea. Teine kogu värsse 1957–1959. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1959, 80 lk.
Kivid ja kajad. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1968, 72 lk.
Vale mees vaadis. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1973, 80 lk.
Härmalõngad. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1977, 116 lk.
Sonetid. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1979, 135 lk.
Portselantantsud. Sonette 1979. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1981, 76 lk.
Möödumatus. Sonetid. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1982, 55 lk.
Sel sajusel suvel. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1984, 95 lk.
Sonetiraamat. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1988, 160 lk.
Sõna sees olek. Värsse 1946–1986. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1994, 93 lk.

Children’s poetry
Konnakübar. Luuletused kooliealiste nooremale astmele. Tallinn: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1963, 24 lk.
Hajameelne tramm. Lõbusad luuletused lastele. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1966, 52 lk.
Kuningalinna lood. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1973, 40 lk.
Laulumaja. Luuletused koolieelikutele. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1977, 24 lk.
Kuldsed krabid. Luuletused nooremale koolieale. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1982, 29 lk.
Punaste traksidega koer. Luuletused väikelastele. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1984, 32 lk.
Tiritammetõrud. Valik lasteluulet, 1960–1980. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1985, 48 lk.
Üle seitsme udusilla. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989, 29 lk.
Kass Karlotte. Tallinn: TEA Kirjastus, 2007, 52 lk.

Puud, mis virvendavad lindude laulust. Sigridi-raamat. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1966, 76 lk. [Lastele.]
Timbu-Limbu õukond ja lumemöldrid. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1969, 44 lk. [Lastele. 2. trükk: 2008.]
Päikesepaiste krobelistel kuusetüvedel. Miniatuure. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1975, 184 lk.
Unenäod kristallkohvris. Muinasjutud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1979, 33 lk. [Lastele. 2. trükk: 2008.]
Juturaamat. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1986, 189 lk.
Põgenemisruum. Ühe ametniku lugu. Romaan. Tallinn, Eesti Raamat, 1988, 173 lk.