Esther by Hans Kaltneker

translated by William Ruleman (July 2015)


O how before all other women, she

Arises shimmering as the stars overhead.

With what a lovelier reality

Her maiden’s form adorns her master’s bed


When, as in death, the floods of white moonlight

Roll on sans cease upon her radiant breast.

The king rides on their waves throughout the night,

Urged by relentless, dumb, and wild unrest.


Unmoved by his divine love’s darker needs,

She strolls at morning where, ‘mid bloom and vine,

The golden lion in the garden bleeds,

From sable throat, a deep red wine.


And then she kneels to let her cool knee kiss

Strange gods like bold peacocks. You understand

That she will have to die quite young, and this

Because she is the loveliest in the land.



William Ruleman is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan College. His recent publications include poems and translations in Ezra, The Galway Review, The Pennsylvania Review, and The Sonnet Scroll, as well as two books of translation: of prose and poetry by Stefan Zweig in A Girl and the Weather and of poetry by the German Romantics in Verse for the Journey: Poems on the Wandering Life (both available from Cedar Springs Books via

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