Volume 20, No.3 - Fall 1976
Editors of this issue: Antanas Klimas
Copyright © 1976 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


Eight Poems

Kazys Bradûnas was born in the village of Kirðai, county of Vilkaviðkis, Lithuania. After graduating from the University of Vilnius where he studied Lithuanian language and literature, he taught in secondary schools. Later he was the editor of several youth, literary and cultural journals. He also edited several collective works on poetry and literature. Since 1961, he has been the editor of the Saturday cultural supplement of the Lithuanian daily Draugas in Chicago, Illinois.

Bradûnas started writing poetry in his high school days. Many of his poems have been published in journals and newspapers. His first book of lyrical poetry, Vilniaus varpai ('The Bells of Vilnius') appeared in 1943 (21947). To present, he has published ten books of poetry, including one longer poem, Maras ('The Plague'), 1947.

The main trait of Bradûnas' poetic technique is the blending of opposites and the interpretation of logical processes in terms of emotional experience. His interest in Lithuanian folklore has bound him closely to the folk song, but he transforms this expression into unpremeditated imagery of his general world view. His poetry uses deceptively simple phrasing, graceful and lyrical.

We print here the translation of eight of Bradûnas poems. Some have appeared in his books, some in periodicals, and some are published here for the first time.

In 1965 several of Bradûnas' poems were published in Lituanus (vol. 11, No. 4 (Winter, 1965), pp. 61 - 65).


Every star —
Eternity's dust —
Is silent.

Only the heart —
Universal presence —
Is beating.

That is enough,
No more is needed —
Only to feet,
How a song slumbers,
Freezing into a snowflake...


Have a seat on the rock —
We have come to the edge of the planet,
To the limit of this earth,
To the infinity of heaven
Chewing the bitter crumbs
Of a long and lean journey.

A cold wind blows from the sea,
Hot gusts from the deserts;
The sun, like a dandelion puff,
Descends and rises, —
But you, please rest.


Silence loves the mute rock.
Cosmos is carved out of silence.
Why do you feed the carnivorous beast?
To stop his howl? With the holy sun

Peace descends upon the orchards.
Now you kneel at the evening's source,
As all star-studded infinity
Shudders in your heart's scream.


I am a nation rooted in you,
I'm not a nomad tribe.
History has not uprooted me,
And death is but a toy.

I'm not a flaming grass blade of the steppe.
I am a flower of ice in the north.

Blown by God's breath,
I shatter into millions.

But again I am welded by kindred spirit —
It is me you receive at birth.


Only the sun of our folk songs
Ever visits your grave
And so day after day
On frozen hands it descends.

Those hands — our whole country —
Unclenched to the bright sky,
Lift from beneath the grass
A heart, like a precious stone,

Which cleaves not with heat,
Disintegrates not to white dust,
But only in an ancient song
Rises as the sun at dawn.


Exiled poets — desert cactuses,
No moisture,
Only sand all around,
Yet they grow and bloom
Spiny red blossoms.

Years fade,
Sand covers their tracks.
Only the exiled poets
And bloom
With painful crimson flowers.

When your heart and mine
Is pierced by a poem's spine,
Let us not cry —
Exiled poets — desert cactuses
Feed on our blood.


Barbarians fear the letter:
Burnt into the clay tablet of law,
Into the parchment of prayer,
Into a book of poems
And into the samizdat fragment
Of Holy Scripture.

Barbarians tremble before the letter,
That fends off the dagger,
Gently strokes the lyre
And resonates the word
In a hymn.

Barbarians ambush
And strangle the letter,
Trample its ribs under hoof
And toss it into flames.

But the letter lives —
Like a legendary bird,
It rises on wings of flame
And descends
On a prison wall
Inscribing — FREEDOM!


The taiga burns in northern flames.
Graves clutch crosses.
Above them, slowly winging,
Glide hawks, black hawks.

A storm assaults the sky.
Underground blows resound.
The souls of the dead are tranquil,
The homeland voices are calm.

Enough sod for the bones.
Yet easier in ashes.
Blooms a blood red flower
In the palms of eternity.

There is no one around.
No one ever comes.
The earth is equally good,
If in suffering you tired.

Northern flames dim in the taiga.
Graves don't release their crosses.
And upon them, slowly winging,
Settle hawks, black hawks.

Translated by J. B.