Volume 23, No.4 - Winter 1977
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1977 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.



by Ivar Ivask


One day all of us will be translated
yes even from the Estonian
the most difficult verse forms
will not deter eager Americans
looking for something new
always something new
pioneers discoverers defenders
thanks to their enthusiasm
one day we will become song
in Shakespeare's tongue
don't give up friend write
write poetry till you too
will be translated
into Whitman's language
and you can peacefully
give up your ethnic ghost
between the hard covers
of a fat American anthology

Translated by Astrid Ivask and the author


/ have always liked to look at water
down to the deepest rock
in a glimmer of refracted rays
under clouded sadness
leaving their plaintive cries
to the waves
to me
a curving promontory
a path
between one blinding darkness
and the next


Foliage foliage
autumn wind constellations
clarify nothing for me
nothing changes but shrill voices
punctuate unspoken sentences
unfold on the wind
carry strangely
hourly for the owl
the years unfurl
but it does not count
fish-like the soul
slips into the coolness of fall

(from October in Oklahoma,l973)


/ am the shepherd of the heavenly flock
a white infinity of sheep is below me
what sheared curly hills of wool
I am a humble and quiet spirit
on the snowfield of the endless North
a flaming blue sword
leaves my hand a swan
with the fingers my limbs
abandon me
I descend to the eternal snows
to brood on the world's egg
/ lean against the pale shell of the visible
holding on to the North Pole
giving up the ghost
I sway in the space of space
icier than an ice floe
I run back into myself
fleeing from the radiant peak
on which vision
fades into invisibility
no one can deny me
to vanish into my own tongue
a seed of seeds

(from Gardens of History, 1970)

Translated by Astrid Ivask and the author

by Juris Kronbergs and Gunars Salins

Juris Kronbergs

be calm, don't rush
be calm, digest yourself slowly
digest yourself thoroughly, carefully, with understanding
with understanding, that is important
because no one else will do it for you

digest yourself all
spare only your skeleton and your eyebrows

because your skeleton holds you together
and with your eyebrows you express astonishment

Gunars Salins


In the cold my voice grew hoarse 
and one day my
was frozen solid.

I drank hot milk and honey 
and recited a single prayer: 
for the
song to return — if only like 
he moos of cows or bees' buzzing.

Then it happened: in the night, when all 
who tended me were gone, 
from the waterfront slaughterhouses 
attle broke onto the streets.

Thirsty, they mooed the city full. Galloping, 
with their hot breaths and bodies 
they melted the snow from windows and trees, 
from skyscrapers and squares.

I pushed open the window — a scream 
thawed my voice. From it, as from a river, 
cows were drinking at noon. Soaking 
their warm udders in my song
their warm udders in my song.

Translated from the Latvian by 
Laris Salins

Gunars Salins


As if a temple. 
As if a communion. 
As if the eve of the flood.

But over the loudspeaker come stock reports, weather 
   forecasts ("Mostly sunny . . ."), lectures on


and a red-haired woman in a bathrobe, 
her legs dangling over the balcony rail, 
plays the cello -
or is it her legs? 
And two young people in the corner play ping pong.

In the meantime
God has stepped out by the altar
and indeed is building
the flood -
blue waves, green waves -
                    higher . . .
The youngsters stop their ping pong match 
and switch to 

On my right a Pakistani or Indian woman with beautiful skin
asks for the time 
or a safety pin. 
I show her the in-
ide of my fin, 
but the cellist starts on an Irish spin.

God glances over his shoulder,
dismantles the waves
and takes them back to the flood warehouse.

Suddenly someone rises and shouts: 
"Stop these antics -
liberate the captive nations!"

What? Was it me who shouted? Sweating 
I collapse in my
seat. "Oh, / see -
you, too, have a part in this mystery," 
marvels the Pakistani woman 
with that beautiful skin.

And over the loudspeaker — stock reports, weather forecasts. But then

I see: at last
demonstrations have begun. People come
with posters. No, with totem poles down the aisles
come the vanquished Indian tribes,
the ancient Incas along their rope bridges,
and the ancient Jatvingians, ancient Galindians, ancient
          Old Prussians and 
dinosaurs, labidosaurs, 
alosaurs, trachonons, 
diplodoci, triceratops, 
tyrannosaurus rex -

they come in procession
with the Jatvingians, with the Galindians, with the Old Prussians
('It's kind of fun to be extinct," 
a ghastly diplodocus whispers in my ear) - 
and they disappear where God disappeared. 
And over the loudspeaker
— stock reports, weather
     forecasts, lectures on horticulture. 
From the cello, from the balcony rail 
cries of fishes, laughter of earthworms, twittering of
And the Pakistani woman walks around and distributes 
forgiveness of sins? mercy? the flesh of God?

          I sense 
through my leg, through my shin-bone someone is ringing
(as if by telephone) — and then at my ear I hear 
a dreaming skull -

     waters mix with sounds, 
     fire mixes with rocks,

     hills with the sun, with the moon, with the stars, 
     plants with the air
A dreaming skull

Translated from the Latvian by the author

Note: "It's kind of fun . . ." quotation from Ogden Nash's poem "Next!" in The Private Dining Room and Other New Verses.

Gunars Salins


(for Janis Strods)

NIGHT. We're by the ocean. And there
on the waves like on rolling vineyard slopes
mooncities are born
and dazzling as if in flashes of shattering fate
they rush toward us, toward the shore and disappear
into the darkness, the sand, ourselves.
          Ah, Noah's wife,
when the flood came, you didn't desire to be saved 
with your hundred year old husband, but to stay in those
that dazzling disappear — drunk on hundred year old
and the Lord's anger
          Did you,
Eve's knowing daughter, take their rocking with you 
in Noah's Ark
— may be in your lap? — and send it i
nto the cleansed world? With this rocking, 
already rose the smoke of Noah's first sacrifice? 
And was it for just this reason it seemed so sweet 
and familiar to the Lord
— as if from your lap?
          From your lap
with the rocking of flood and ebb 
wine was born again
— and on it as if on the flood: 
rolling cities, shattering fate, day and night.

          Ah, Noah's wife 
as it was in the beginning, 
is and will be: with bone frames and flesh walls 
we live in mooncities built on waves.

Translated from the Latvian by 
Laris Salinš



Drawing by Ivar Ivask for his Verikivi (Bloodstone; Lund, 1976)