Volume 48, No.1 - Spring 2002
Editors of this issue: Violeta Kelertas
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 2002 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.



I will walk to Czestochowa
On foot to the holy place.
I, the sole scoundrel, I, the sole sinner,
I, the sole black stain on this vast white orb.

My Bacchanalia of love was heard 
By all the earth and all the heavenly heights; 
And the final sin, upon awakening, 
Flooded my eyes with pain and suffering.

But there was fortune even in misfortune— 
Tiny, distant, still, unknown; 
And it was thus: hara-kiri in the city market 
By many names intoned.

All night the silence wails silently,
The silence wails, the night cries out to me.
So I shall pray in divine words, like a prophet working
/miracles, And I shall remove my disguise.

Translated by Jūra Avižienis


Who are you, where are you going, traveler—
To the unknown, to night or storms? 
Or will the skies of morning, when they brighten, 
Find only your sad grave beside the road?

I am the one earth nurtured,
The one whom heaven blessed,
The one for whom the nights clear when days are darkening—
/ am the one, I am that man.

From sunsets I collect the morrow's fire,
From midnight I collect resplendent stars,
Alive I traverse seas, the depths, abysses,
Rivers—without bridges, mountains—without paths.

I am the one who trampled on black death, 
I am the one who won't be carried off by storms!.. 
The one you will not find at garden celebrations
Seek me in nation, storm, and song.

Translated by Aušra Kubilius


You walk the earth. Alone. And not alone.
Deep gorges, crags, and granite sound.
Who answers there?—The traces of your days,
The footsteps of your treks, the morning of your fate.

And you walk like a child through a field of miracles, 
From that great joy an eloquent mute... 
At morning you saw God as if living, 
At day
—you did not grieve losing  Him along the road, 
      at evening you wept as if discovering dew...

Who beckons to you there? The wing of His solace. 
The ancient Eden tree is offering you shade... 
And you fall on your knees like the most obedient servant, 
And you rejoice at nightfall for the morning's return.

Translated by Aušra Kubilius


When after heat the earth's assailed by cloudbursts, 
When angry lightning strikes against house walls
God, You are the shelter of the fragile violet, 
And Your hands, God, are here protecting us.

When darkness cloaks the earth's connective highways 
And when all expectations dash against 
The reefs of death, skeletons sing hymns to You. 
You, only, in that darkness are a light.

The smallest blade of meadow grass perceives You, 
The highest arch of sky is filled with You, 
For You the earth turned, the sun shone, the stars burned; 
You were not noticed, God, only by man.

Translated by Aušra Kubilius


Beneath a kerchief of May blossoms B
y my window, two cherries fell, 
Trees like twin sisters, side by side; 
A wild apple tree succumbed as well 
Under the burden of a wreath of buds, 
Like a mother, a mother adorned in white.

Beneath the ridge, two chimney swallows 
Wove a nest of dawn, clay, and moss, 
And their song flowed in streams-
Like those warblers of luminous spring, 
Like that paean on an eternal journey, 
I, too, came into this world to be.

A brother to those anguished cherry trees, 
I will proceed to life's farthest distances; 
Like an offspring of that aged apple tree, 
I will reap my homeland's harvest,
Through storms of war and paths of peace, 
Until the burden subdues my heart, 
Until my limbs yield to earth.

Translated by Živilė Gimbutas


You are the source of my joyful dreams,
My only compass at the journey's crossroads,
You are my guiding light, sun and star,
          Land of my ancestors.

The memory of meadow's blossoming hues, 
Old castles on the Nemunas' hoary shores, 
Highland dales and glistening Baltic dunes
          Land of my ancestors.

And the buzzing of bees 'round white bee-hives, 
The mounds' quiet calm, a hush on the heath, 
And winter, profound like the white path of death, 
          In the land of my forebears.

Stirring beneath the rough, frozen earth, 
Secure on the banks of a river of sorrow, 
Adorn yourself with new blossoms and mirth, 
Lithuania, land of my ancestors!

Translated by Živilė Gimbutas


I was born into this world not for the blink of an eye; 
I came for quite a long time. 
Into the world's river You immersed my soul, God, 
But I don't know why.

And the river flows—it hasn 't frozen yet— 
With the happiness of spring 
And with the God-fearing bird song, 
Grows ever louder and louder.

...And they sing, drunk on elemental air. 
And I, like a reed, turn in every direction, 
Not tiring, not bending in the wind 
And not breaking, I become ever stronger.

Translated by Birutė Puirius Serota


Someone's life, like a sailboat, sails off 
into the distances;

someone else's, like a beggar on his knees, 
never stops praying for handouts.

Someone's life, like a pillar of fire, 
shines for all nations to see; 
someone else's, like a tulip, lies 
broken by a whirlwind on a muddy path.

I walk the good earth—singing, 
I see what misfortunes will befall the beggars... 
I see fields where the divine harvests ripen, 
I see oceans, I see boats.

I see the blazing pillar of fire,
its light falling on my face.
Astounded by that fiery light, I close my eyes.
I go where the earth takes me, divinely led.

Translated by Algis Žolynas


Lord, through Your fingers time runs like sand, 
Through Your fingers, Lord, it flows like water, 
And like a child gathering blossoms, I gather its leavings, 
And I search for rivers before they submerge into autumn.

White sand will run ceaselessly, and stars will blaze and fall, 
But I'll be content with those leavings of cold light 
Because You decorated them with the day's miraculous blossoms 
And You, my Lord, are the evening's light.

Your rivers will flow ceaselessly like our years,
But for me the current's song and cold raindrops will suffice,
For in a flood of death, You are Ararat's summit,
And You, my Lord, are the eternal deep.

Translated by Algirdas Žolynas


On a theme in a painting by M.K. Čiurlionis

In this world, where nights do not yield 
Themselves to pure dawns and fair days, 
Through the unembraceable galaxies of stars, 
A friendship of souls briefly illumines us humans.

Hands carry it held high, like an immense, 
Precious, and holy secret.

From the abyss, from the depths, and from the skies 
It blossoms, transformed into love's holy flower.

Hearts carry it, like a bud among thorns, 
Plucked fearlessly through storms and downpours, 
Shining on earth like a heavenly miracle 
On the morning of the heart's awakening.

A sun, like God's face, it rises, never
Setting in its heavenly journey eastward,
And the harmonious symphony of the cosmos envelops
Our world of winter melting into spring.

Then, then, where the nights did not promise 
To blossom in pure dawns and bright days, 
Through the unfathomable galaxies of the heart, 
We're granted a friendship of souls.

Translated by Algirdas Žolynas


Three variations on a theme


We look for fulfillment in this world, 
Sometimes finding it, sometimes not, 
And waking in the middle of the night, 
We console ourselves with old legends.

We look for the wellsprings of poetry, 
Every day wading through prose... 
And from life too, alas, I ladle 
A good dose of poetry and prose.

Sometimes a word is a flower, sometimes—a wound,
Lacking in rhythm or warmth of tone,
But even in prose we may find
Poetry, like precious yellow amber in the sand.

Awakened in the middle of our lives' dark night, 
We console ourselves with legends of our youth. 
We look for this world's fulfillment in poetry 
But find only the endless return of spring.


We look for fulfillment in this world, 
A thing small as a poppyseed; 
We shut our eyes before the sun of our souls 
And die disappointed in this earth.

We search for ourselves somewhere in great 
Stratospheric heights and breadths, and 
Nurture our hungry longing. Angry, we're people 
Who are no longer people and thus, unfortunately,

Life bursts with tropical luxuriance
All around us even as we lose it, and
we stand confronting death,
Surpassed by the grass, trees, and children.

But there is fulfillment, even in the smallest speck of 
Light in darkness, and all of it is whole 
In the greatness of the microcosm, touching us 
Upon our hearts' awakening in God—bright, abundant and pure.


We look for fulfillment in this world, 
Sometimes we find it, sometimes not. 
Not at midnight do we lose hope, 
Nor in the throes of misfortune and pain.

And when the earth is blanketed with clouds, 
When the flowers are snowed in by wicked winter, 
We keep faith in our homeland's future; 
We keep faith in the Lord's just and righteous will.

Translated by Algirdas Žolynas