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Online poetry by www.efn.org

“Musa Domestica” is translated by Jonas Zdanys and “Untitled” and “The Three Wrights” are translated by Vyt Bakaitis

The translations by Vyt Bakaitis are from Breathing Free: Poems from the Lithuanian, selected and translated by Vyt Bakaitis (Vilnius:Lithuanian Writers' Union, 2001)

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An essay by Laima Sruoginis

Vytautus P. Bloze Vytautas P. Bloze


Translated by Jonas Zdanys Jonas Zdanys


Musa Domestica

in the camp, among the tents, and later in the castle's cellar, sat a young
Ruthenian from Lithuania, one of the underage recruits
he said he had been sentenced for a song, which he didn't even know
we didn't believe him, asked him to sing it, but he

said he didn't know it, and that was it. The castle's tribunal had sentenced him
for an anti-monarchic song: students from his old dormitory having betrayed him
          testified
that he had sung, but that it wasn't him, that he didn't know that song
hadn't heard it, didn't have an ear for music nor the voice

we believed him, but then one night, the moon shining through the bars directly on his
          face
he arose, we saw it, and walked quietly, carefully, eyes closed like a blind man
touching nothing, not stumbling, not bumping into anything, as if guided by hearing
          alone, feeling everything
walked like a herdsman following after the cows and sang quietly

and beautifully. it was an old Lithuanian song about a king, from where
had it awakened? perhaps in chilldhood he had heard them singing while he was asleep
and perhaps it lodged in his unconscious, in that other memory, in the world of
          moonlight
and awakened even without him knowing it

having sung it he came back the same way, quietly, eyes closed
and seeing nothing he lay down again among us, on his bed
and there was no modern inflection in that old song, as if his ancestors' spirits
          submerged in unseen experience
had possessed him and had fulfilled something and having said something, without him
          realizing it, let him fall asleep peacefully again

I don't know what we are singing, don't condemn us
until we lie down again, having arisen, don't judge us
and don't wake those whose eyes are closed, near the abyss of risk, until we fall asleep
           having finished
and lay down in our place beneath the lindens

only the white eyes of the clocks will remain open and will stare at us and keep watch
above all, who share the same fate, all, who awaken perhaps against their will, who
          are called out to sing
about you and your ships coming back burned, where
will your spirits depart to? and what will they, perhaps already wakened by us, sing in
          the moonlight

1971-1985



Translated by Vyt Bakaitis Vyt Bakaitis


[ Untitled ]

     for Kazys Boruta

they lean on their shovels
and listen to the eulogies
by the edge of a black abyss
getting to know the person

their erudition has grown
over a span of years
regarding coffin and decedent
they know what each is worth

their eyes are calm
searching out strong lifelines
they take in and evaluate
unexpected cultural merit

the shovelling sounds a harsh
somber applause
to the beauty
of human
life


The Three Wrights

Three wheelwrights went down the road, singing:
“Had we no need
belly to feed,
having eaten our fill
get drunk as well,
for justice in the world, there'd be
equality! fraternity!”

Three wrights went down the road, saying:
“What the hands earn, belly eats up.
What the hands earn, belly eats up.”

Three wrights went down the road, swearing:
“String 'em up, the bellies. We'll string 'em up!”

Then all three jumped a ditch and went deep into the woods.
And stopped in front of three oaktrees.
And strung up the bellies.

Then they breathed easy.
Walked back out.
Grabbed a cab.
Back to town.

All around them people were eating and drinking,
and starving to death.
And the wrights whistled as they went on with their work.
Rims for the Big and Little
Dippers.
Rings around Sun and Moon.
And on the pond's surface.
Also sleds.

The years went fast.
More and more now, in dreams, they drank wine and prepared roasts.
Then one day
while out to get fresh lumber for a set of spokes
they came across the bellies they'd left behind in the woods.

These gluttons had gnawed the three oaktrees down and lay withering
     in the sun, on three stumps.
The three lit a cigaret each
and took to thinking it over.

The wood-doves cooed.
There was a smell of hay off the fields.

The wrights picked up their bellies.
Stuffed them full of roasts and swilled wine in, saying:
“Let belly eat up what the hands earn.”

And when they slept, blossoms no longer fell on their faces.