The Wedding of Salme

The Wedding of Salme*


* Adapted from Tähemõrsja (Starbride), an ancient Estonian runosong

And composed in memory of my mother, Salme M.


On a field moist with morning fog,

by a craggy shepherd’s path it lay.

A little hen’s egg, left alone,

no nest, poor thing, just dew.


Walking there a widow spied it,

lifted it gently, clutched it closely

into her apron pocket she tucked

the tiny treasure, a chilly shell.


Then the egg she did warm,

three months, another and then a day.

The foundling was born, a child emerged,

a girl so sweet and full of grace.


Salme blossomed, into beauty

she grew. A maiden chaste who

many courted, wooed with gifts

and begged her to wed.                                                                                    


Not to the Sun with fifty horses,

Nor to the waxing-then-waning moon,

but to a celestial suitor, steady and bright,

son of the North Star, she did consent.


“Wed, Maid Salme, with Starry Youth,”

I did whisper, hidden in time.

“So airy and light and silver-voiced,

your daughter fine I can be.”


The tall wise oaks and dashing alders,

their trailing catkins, roots and branches,

all to your wedding who come, then

my uncles and aunties – my kin shall be.


So Salme, in silk, and Star, a-shimmering,

the Cross-Cane danced upon the green,

Thus betrothed, the chariot alit,

they ascended to dwell in the sky.


Now fearless and free, I may dance

across earth or foaming sea.

Mother, your shield casts from above,

so constant, so bright, ever on me.