LITUANUS
LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
 
Volume 23, No.1 - Spring 1977
Editor of this issue: Thomas Remeikis
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright 1977 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
Lituanus

SELECTIONS FROM THE POETRY OF HENRIKAS RADAUSKAS

Translated by Dr. JONAS ZDANYS

DEATH'S ANGEL

He comes across the granite yard, 
Grizzled feather glint in his black wings. 
He strokes the tree, the water and the cat, 
Glances at the mirror of the day.

And the pond shivers though the wind has stilled, 
And the cat on the door sill attacks the air 
Like a mouse. The tree's blood begins to jell, 
Day falls in stains on the brown grass.

The hundred year old oak door
Screeches like a newborn. Through yellow fog
The patient's eyes see: rainbows
Slump to earth like cackling parrots.

The clock counts out the time for the living, 
A spider hangs his web among the stars, 
And the angel, having entered the hearth, 
Turns into smoke, ashes, embers.

HOT DAY

A thin cypress scrapes the sky, 
Pours itself on the landscape's wounds. 
Delicate needles pierce the heart; 
Fainting she smiles and hears 
Her own screams but cannot die, 
The way you and I cannot.

She hears: a metal bird sings 
In a glass tree, copper fruits trundle, 
Tremble in the dizziness of dying. 
Toward an old faun's golden foot 
Soft music swims.

Having merged with the glass tree's invisible buds 
You don't care if tomorrow ever comes.

SUNDAY

In a room dead for twenty years
An old woman's shadow yawns, turns an empty
Coffee grinder, the dock shows Sunday,
The cuckoo quiets, a guest is stabbed in the inn.

A sleeping woman reads a scorched book:
The Terrible History of the Demon Belphegor.
In her palms are Saturn's broken lines.
The double walls are filled with ducats and bones.

An anemic voice runs up the cellar stairs,
Coloratura dripping candles and tears.
The wall rips, the rubber girl falls.
Violins carry the bloody heart out to the garden.

A giant laughing maple knocks at the ruddy 
Coffin decorated with flutes and fioritura. 

Poveri fiori. Poisoned violets faint. T
he shadow of the voice runs to the vanished house.

MIDDAY

Crying out that he had no soul 
He jumped to earth from the crooked tower. 
Beneath him lakes glittered with coins 
And grass fed on bubbles of milk.

The flying shadow shouted with joy. 
The gray air didn't hear the screams. 
The king's dogs chased a happy fawn, 
Red orchards choked with apples.

A legless Italian angel crawled along 
Dragging a large bag of metal birds 
For orphans. Shadows of sweet-flags 
On the river bank said to the shell beauty: 
"Why do you hide your lips and eyes?"

HARBOR

Locked up in a midday hard as diamond 
My eyes begin to fail. 
The shore is charged with a fierce light: 
A holiday of nails, broken glass, daggers, -
Who will give me a helping hand?

And steamer and locomotive 
Sirens carve the rippled air, 
And crabs and lobsters crawl 
Between fishermen's stone hands, 
And a crowd of screaming blacks 
Pierces me like knives.

The shore is charged with a hot light. 
Who will cover the fire of clouds, 
Help me to wait for the cold night? 
A holiday of lightning, flames, embers.

And the ocean rocks with boats 
And glitters with crooked mirrors.

IN THE HOSPITAL GARDEN

Through the hospital window chloroform
flows from a broken bottle
Into evening's garden,
And a poplar's feet fall asleep
And his hands get lost in dreams.

And petals of wild rose buds 
Chase air like fish, -
A bush winces and staggers. 
Grabs with its branches at a low 
Cloud, and collapses.

And the nightingale can't
Count to three:
The melody melts on the third trill,
Falls into a yellow pond,
And suddenly the whole garden lights up:

I burn like a funeral candle

Near my hanging coffin
And swim into the bottomless box.
And the weather vane in the tower
Tosses terrified and squeaks prayers
To chase away the chloroform
From the rose, the nightingale, the poplar,
And, not remembering my name,
It hysterically turns and whines
And chokes.

CLIO, THE MUSE OF HISTORY

A wind blows from the pyramids, 
From kings and from castles, 
From churches slender as spears, 
From corpulent baroque flowers.

O, how pretty is History!

Heads of paint die in frames. 
Letters pray on stones. 
The smell of withering roses trembles. 
The echo of war songs melts.

History smells like a mortuary!

A powerful man rules the country. 
Black slaves turn grindstones. 
Blood flows, poison and wine, 
A sword rings, and money.

I tremble reading History.

And the old whore Clio, 
Seller of used truth, 
Fears neither poison nor swords 
But only the light of the sun.