LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 50, No.4 - Winter 2004
Editor of this issue: M. G. Slavėnas
Copyright © 2004 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
Translated by M. G. Slavėnas
"Hail, traveler, and when you return to
your homeland, take care not to forget me..."
No man has kissed me yet. And my voice is like a wave.
My body has never known a man's caress.
But I have always longed for one like you.
And we were drunk with wonder and weariness.
Blessed and cursed be the ball
I threw on the shore
where the linen was spread to dry,
as the two silly mules
on that golden old-time morning
pulled my little cart.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
I am Nausicaa -1 am of a seafaring race.
I have a keepsake from that
wonderful shipwreck on our coast.
My mother spins purple wool, a strand of joy.
My father's house is generous, noble and tall.
Under the skies of antiquity,
we will drink a simple royal toast
to the guest who is passing by.
You are strong and free. And yet,
You are hiding tears behind your cloak.
We will never understand you.
But we will not ask why.
And I - I just melt into the column
against which I lean...
Nobody shall know
how I stood alone
in the empty hall.
Nobody shall ever know what I felt.
I will not admit it even to myself:
I love you,
"He did not love the beautiful nymph
even though he rested in her bed,
in her bright room..."
No woman can match me in fairness of face,
my abundant hair, my built.
But the gods begrudge my happiness.
And I fear their wrath.
You are building a ship. I will give you
an axe and a drill. The sails I shall weave
myself - those wings cutting though time
like a gliding flag.
One more time you desire me. Parting you
hold my narrow waist in your hands.
I am jealous. So unbearably jealous
of everything close to you: your wife,
your dogs, your distant land....
This role is too hard for me.
Am I not a goddess?
Why did the gods endow me,
like a common miller's maid,
with this painful, plaguing desire?
You are bored with me now.
Yet - for seven years I had tied you
with my hands, my embrace, my hair...
You humbled me.
My only wish was to see you too be
immortal like the stars in the skies...
You spilled the ambrosia.
You shook off my loving embraces.
Sobbing you buried your face in the sandy shore.
Not even pity for me is left.
In my deserted blossoming grotto
only the sea understands.
I wished you well. I love you,
"...and time slipped by imperceptibly."
Forgive me, for they are only a herd of pigs.
And I must guide them from their trough to the barn.
If you are sad, they'll sit for you like props,
around the revolving table, when the feast is high.
Flashing torches, primal humans to the wine
disrupt the order and meter of this verse.
Prying eyes shining with glee
will stare at my bust
reclaimed form antiquity.
...When the fire goes out, the trivet will cool, the spell
These very hands will pour out the magic brew.
Circe will yield to the strongest man.
you will sleepwalk toward the feast,
toward the beckoning light.
I won't keep you by force. You can sail away.
If you fear to provoke your fate,
you can cut the red thread of the plot.
For your journey I'll fill these flasks with wine.
As my parting gift I offer you
my wisdom and my gentleness...
Thus let your flimsy ship take you safely to your journey's
To the rocks of your unattainable, non-existent
To spare you the pain
in my proud, wide eyes,
I will slip away without fuss.
I have given you hospitality.
I kept my word.
But you, strange man,
You, my only one,
I love you,
"...I will go to my grave with
Odysseus' name in my heart."
It is hard to have known your love.
There is no other like you. No other to take your place.
So who is to blame if I wait for you even a hundred years?
Turn deaf to the whistling and clapping in the halls,
the ridicule of the town, the suitors,
even my women slaves?
Who is to blame if I remain
this tedious, odd Penelope?
I wish to sustain the light of the hearth shining for you
through layers of walls and time.
Pure as an idea.
I wish to preserve for you untouched and clear the water filling your amphora.
And if at some other time other women
shall hear in a conch
the roaring sea
or confront an empty room,
may they recognize the waiting implanted in my heart.
For I, I am one to come home to.
One who is always there.
I am now renowned for having been patient and wise.
The blood form your hands I shall wipe
with my lips and hair.
At your knees sob with happiness.
I love you,
The midday square is sultry and loud.
Movie houses are empty.
They swarm in thousands: united
by brutal, inhuman
The post of shame rises
high above the roofs like
a strange dry tree.
My dying delirious gaze
(Crowded the typhoid wards, the
showers, the camp barber shops...
cut hair falling in layers of red).
Their anger mounts,
as if I were
from another planet.
Hoarse from mindless shouting,
their frenzied voices
A heavy chain grazes my throat.
The executioner waits.
Empty bottles fly from the tables
like mad explosions.
Truth: from my childish mouth,
Let the fire start... My body
yearns for the cleansing flame.
A deaf, demented bell-ringer
suddenly comes to
yearn for the heart of his bell.
The rusting keys
of his small, remote church
rattle at his waist
while he, at midnight,
during a storm,
crawls up into
the twisted narrow tower
and sounds the bell.
Its iron sound shatters the night.
From villages silently emerge
desecrated exiled Madonnas.
In the cold dawn of early autumn,
a Resurrection Mass
rings out for them.
In the tabernacle,
like a scarlet flame,
glows the blood of innocents.
The bell-ringer laughs...
Going mad from sorrow and love.
THE APPLE TREE
On the corner of Castle Street and Grand Street
stands the Orthodox Church built by Grand Duke Algirdas for his first wife, Marya.
Next to it is an apple tree: green, immortal, laden with fruit.
Its roots reach deep into pre-Christian soil, the beginning of time.
Like a fairy-tale tree: bright lights on top,
silver blossoms descend, fruit ripens and swells...
Sunlight above the old town, a white dove, the stillness of
a hot summer day.
An olive apple rolls on the dusty age-worn cobblestones...
This was perhaps the very spot to which she used to come and silently pray,
the young bride of Algirdas, little Marya Yaroslawna, Princess of Vitebsk.
For her, the shade of the apple tree and the marking on the stones
were as heavy as frozen lava.