Mihkel Veske

PoemsMihkel Veske

Mihkel Veske (28./16. I 1843 – 16./4. V 1890) was a poet, linguist and folklorist.

Veske was born at Veske farm, Paistu parish, Viljandi County. He studied at Pulleritsu village school and Paistu parish school and was a non-credit student at Tartu Gymnasium. From 1866–1867, he studied at Leipzig missionary school and from 1867–1872, he was a student of comparative linguistics at Leipzig University. He defeneded his PhD dissertation Untersuchungen zur vergleichenden Grammatik des finnischen Sprachstammes in 1873. The same year he started contributing to the Neue Dörptsche Zeitung in Tartu and to Eesti Põllomees that was led by J. V. Jannsen. He was also active in Vanemuine Society, the Learned Estonian Society and the Society of Estonian Men of Letters (Eesti Kirjameeste Selts). From 1874–1887, he was a lecturer of Estonian language at the University of Tartu and from 1878–1881, an Estonian language teacher at the Tartu Teachers’ Seminary. He took many language research trips from 1875–1884 and wrote Eesti keele healte õpetus ja kirjutuse viis (’The Teaching and Writing of Estonian Language Sounds’, 1879), Soome keele õpetus I-II (’Learning Finnish’; 1881, 1883) and other shorter studies on Estonian language and folklore, including on toponyms. He published the folk songs he collected in the anthology Eesti rahvalaulud I-II (’Estonian Folk Songs’; 1879, 1883). As a supporter of the radical C. R. Jakobson, he rose to the top of the Society of Estonian Men of Letters and served as its president from 1882–1885. He was also active in the Linda Trade Vessel Society and was a member of the Estonian Alexander School head committee. In 1884, he founded the magazine Oma Maa, dedicated to “science and stories“ and to introducing Russian culture, which made the Baltic German population increasingly hostile towards him. He went on a study trip to Hungary from 1885–1886 and in 1887, started teaching Finno-Ugric languages at Kazan University. In Kazan, he published Исследования о наречиях черемисского языка (1989) and Славяно-финские культурные отношения, по данным языка (1890). He died of a heart attack in Kazan and is buried in Uue-Jaani Cemetery in Tartu. The monument on his grave (by A. Weizenberg) was removed after WWII and he has a memorial plaque at Veske farm, Holstre.
Veske started writing song lyrics already as a gymnasium student. He was influenced by the runic verse form and the national spirit. He wrote the collections Laulud Viisidega (’Songs with Melodies’, 1874) and Dr. Veske Laulud (’Songs of Dr. Veske’, 1899), which was published posthumously. His gripping patriotic poems Kas tunned maad, mis Peipsi rannalt (‘Do you know the land on Peipsi beach’, originally Kodumaa (’Homeland’); melody from the song ‘Ma Normandie’ by Frédéric Bérat,) and Mingem üles mägedele (‘Let’s go up to the mountains’, originally Ilus oled, isamaa (‘You are beautiful, fatherland’); melody by K. A. Hermann) are classics among national songs. His poetry expresses love and longing for his country, and sympathy for orphans, farmhands and military recruits. His love lyrics move from village themes, romantic sentimentality to heinesque humor. His nature lyrics and shepherd songs also include recollections from his youth. Despite simplicity, his style is captivating. Veske has translated Russian, German, Finnish and Hungarian poetry as well.

A. M. (Translated by A. S.)

Selected works

Laulud Wiisidega. Luuletanud ja toimetanud M. Weske. Tartu: K. Mattiesen, 1874, 10+67 lk. [2. trükk: 1875. Kättesaadav: http://dspace.ut.ee/handle/10062/8033.]
Dr. Weske Laulud. Õndsa lauliku järele jäänud paberitest kokku kogunud M. Weske. Viljandi: A. Tõllasepp, 1899, 144 lk. [Kättesaadav: http://dspace.ut.ee/handle/10062/8131.]
Laulud. Korraldanud ja redigeerinud M. Jürna ja E. Nurm. Tartu: Eesti Kirjanduse Selts, 1931, 204 lk.
Valitud laulud. Järelsõna: Karl Taev. Tallinn: Ilukirjandus ja Kunst, 1949, 143 lk.
Kas tunned maad…. Koostanud ja järelsõna: Ene Nagelmaa. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1996, 204 lk.

Bericht über die Ergebnisse einer Reise durch das Estenland im Sommer 1875. Von Dr. M. Weske. Verhandlungen der Gelehrten estnischen Gesellschaft, Bd. 8. H. 4. Dorpat: 1877, 76 lk.
Õntsa keisri Aleksandri Esimese elu ja olu. Pidukõne Aleksandri I 100 aastase sündimise päewa mälestusepühal 12. Tets. 1877 Wanemuise saalis Eesti seltside ees pidanud Dr. M. Weske. Tartu: Schnakenburg, 1878, 39 lk. [Kättesaadav: http://www.etera.ee/s/HdK8Otdr9B.]
Awalik wastus öpetaja härra J. Hurt’i “awaliku kirja” peale: Lisaga wale põhjuskirjadest. Kirjutanud Dr. M. Weske. Tartu: [M. Veske], 1883, 74 lk. [Kättesaadav: http://www.digar.ee/arhiiv/nlib-digar:268853.]