LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 21, No.3 - Fall 1975
Editors of this issue: Antanas Klimas, Thomas Remeikis, Bronius Vaskelis
Copyright © 1975 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
VLADAS ŠLAITAS: FIVE POEMS
Vladas Šlaitas is a Lithuanian poet who writes about the irretrievable loss, of unredeemable nostalgia. Born in 1921, he was a teacher (1940-1943), a civil servant while still living in Lithuania. In 1945 he fled to Germany, and since 1947 he has lived in England.
Šlaitas' poetry and he writes only poetry is like the poet's dialogue with himself. He talks about his happy childhood, cheerful youth in his native town, in the serene landscape of Lithuania. He is seeking something eternal, something stable and permanent in his loneliness of displacement.
He started writing poetry in his high school days. Since 1949 he has published several volumes of poetry. In the free form, free-flowing poetry, he analyzes himself in the world that is lost, and in the world that surrounds him.
We present here five poems by Vladas Šlaitas: "The Monologue of Rain", "The Summer's Dream", and "Thirty Years" are taken from the collection Širdies paguodai ('For the Soothing of one's Heart') 1965, "About Myself" was token from the collection Antroje pusėje ('In the Second Half'), 1964, and "The Shadow of Love" was taken from the cultural journal Aidai ('Echoes'), January - February, 1972.
All five poems were translated by Julia Stelmokas.
THE MONOLOGUE OF RAIN
I can sit for hours and listen
to the monologue of rain,
although it says nothing to me.
It only brings sleepiness to my lonely heart
and takes me back to the days of long long ago.
Hundred years will pass,
and I'll be gone,
and so my world of memories,
just the rain will keep repeating
the same sad monologue of the bygone days:
Somebody else will take my place
and somebody else will listen
to the same melancholic monologue of rain.
THE SUMMER'S DREAM
That we could have it easier
to depart from this world,
old age is given to us,
deterioration of the brain
and loss of memory,
so the atrophy of senses
and impotence to enjoy life.
All this is given to us for the purpose,
that the journey on this earth could be cut short,
like one brief summer's dream.
This has to take place, as the saying goes:
man appears and disappears, and in his place
no memory remains.
After living so long
I came to the conclusion,
that there is nothing
I would like to repeat again.
All seems today like a big fire still burning
but never ending
and flooding the room with the dreams and memories
of the bygone days.
For thirty years the grave is hiding
your graceful shoulders from my eyes,
for thirty years this love of mine
unreachable there lies.
For thirty years I still walk searching
for somebody like you.
There was a time when I was proud and selfish
like all the egotists,
concerned only about myself.
Three things domineered my world
and they were:
My shoulders darkened the wide horizon,
my fellow men could hardly see;
and in this vast of God's creation
that everything was mine
and meant for me.
And to-day I strongly feel,
that I despise myself for this;
the blame, for hatred burning deep inside of me,
I try to put on the shoulders
of my fellow men.
Almighty God, come to my help
and change my heart
I know, you can,
that the blame for hatred burning deep inside of me
I would never try to put on the shoulders
of my fellow men.
THE SHADOW OF LOVE
When I write,
I write just to me,
because poetry brings joy to the lonely heart, l
ike the autumn sun brings joy to the dying plant;
all, who used to talk to me,
they don't talk to me anymore.
Their lips are tightly closed,
their eyes, they see the sun no more,
the soil, dark soil embraces their remains,
their shadows are gone to the night's domain.
Nothing is left,
except the soft whisper of grass,
nothing is left,
except the gentle breeze of wind,
nothing is left,
except this slow rhythm of autumn,
only deep in my heart remains
the gentle shadow of your love.
Translated by Julia Stelmokas