Стихотворения Янины Дегутите (в переводе на английский язык)

* * *
I don’t want to be writing poems.
Don’t believe there’s joy in that. It is false.
I would like to be kneading bread, or rocking a baby,
And carry my summer in crease-lined palms
All through the haymowing season.

And yet winds rock the streetlamps this evening,
And I walk the plowed fields in bare feet.
Life is palpable, like a scar,
And my star-filled nights, breaking into words,
Yield a bitter dew.

And it’s in words the morning comes flowing,
With the pigeons loudly traipsing my ledge,
And a chill wind in autumn, where the shoreline roars;
With a smell of mint off the river, and a sunbeam
Perching on your shoulder like a bird
That flew right in through the windowpane.

And nothing will fit the words:
Neither black midnight’s repressed cry,
Nor the red and violet asters picked at midday.
Everything you shove away into words will settle in the veins,
Both the dizzying spell and bitter aftertaste.

If I carry the small handful of snow
I dipped from a drift like a branch of cherry blossoms,
Don’t think that it’s easy to manage.
I don’t want to be writing poems,
But the pencil in my hand vibrates to my heartbeat,
And there is no way back.

* * *
I pray to stars and to grass.
To the sacred bubbling of a living spring.
I pray this evening for everyone, –
for the sainted, for the accursed,
for the righteous.
A savage bridge of conflagrations and gore
connects catacombs, inquisition courts
and concentration camps.
The mountain of ashes is piled high.
A gray evening. A gray bird.
This evening I pray for everyone.


Farewell, my bridegroom – I have never kissed you.
Farewell, my son – who never was.
Love brought me here and love will show me out…
In trembling hands the flutter of a captive morning gust.
But I will come again.
A thousand times.
Across the desert sand,
the rain-soaked clay,
the firesites, –
I will be back.
To bury brothers in the dead of night.
I will come barefoot.
I will be unarmed, with empty hands.
The law which calls me stands above all laws.
And if – they curse me,
or ignore me,
Or have their courts condemn me for the thousandth time, –
I shall not be condemned.
And I will come again
and haunt them
as I walk the battlefield at night –
This salty crust –
in which
I bury brothers –
black and white.
A tyrant’s shadow hovers heavy over land and sea
And names of slaves are scorched on our faces with the mark of shame, –
And thus – I must be back.
A thousand times.
To breathe the dark in which your body is enshrined.
To hold your helpless head.
To place the blade against your side.
Condemned a thousand times.
Your sister.
Your Antigone.


The thousand and one nights
Of insidious, snake-like delays…
The thousand and one nights
Of prisons and fairy tales. –
Talk, Scheherazade… The sultan is listening.
Your executioners are close by.
Talk… And as you talk let your words
Unlock the incredible heights of the sky.
Talk, Scheherazade… The sultan is listening.
The sultan is ravenous. Your fate waits in suspense.
Do not stop! The executioners are quick to obey.
There is bitterness in your throat and your voice is tense.
But you must talk… And with each trembling word which you say at night
You pay for each new breath of air and for another hour of life,
You pay for your strength and your helplessness
And for all that which may be lost or possessed.
Talk, Scheherazada… The sultan is ravenous.
Your words flow slowly like blood from an open wound.
But, oh, do not yet give up… For the thousand and first night is still far
And the last handful of clay is still unpaid.


Rain waiting happiness a lily
sweet linden scant –
all this fits in your name.
It is easy
to walk against the wind
for the spark
from those ancient fires
of a hundred years ago
is still alive
in us.
Springs throb
when your palm touches the earth.
A bird soars
in your sky.
Happiness is
to leave
with your name
on the lips.


Today I saw you off
on your immeasurably long journey
To the other side..
To where you are now,
on the other side of the mirror.
On the other side of hope.
So much suffering must have had a meaning.
Everything has a meaning.
I don’t believe that this small heap
of frozen February earth
is the end of a life.
Just one falling star
can light up the darkest night.

You always begged me not to die,
for how would you live alone?
Could it be that this agony
was meant to bond us closer than joy?


He will not return, your Odysseus, this time he will not return.
No Penelopes with their spindles are waiting for him
by the steady hum of the spinning wheels.
The Cassandras are silent, the voiceless Cassandras are silent.
And Achylles without his armor is frail like a child
and falls like grass.

The gods will play and punish and avenge and die.
But Ithaca and Troy will rise again – from the night,
from smoke, from flames.
And the Homers – blind and all-seeing –
shall walk through a thousand years,
from South to North, and call
each country by its name.


This restlessness with no name
overcomes us and drives us on
And we run away from home
in thoughts or on trains or planes
And we spill into the streets
and fill hotels and cafes
Or set out on a raft alone –
to confront the seas.

Our eyes have gone blind
from the clever dazzle of numbers and rocket glares,
Our ears are deaf from loudspeaker words
and flutes in the spheres, –
Stunned and still
we taste from a hand
the sharp seed of the hemp.

Our spines are soft
but we find it hard to hide behind the walls of concrete and glass
and we slide up and down on the spiral stairs
Until one day we will face our own self.
We wish to be like gods
on the First Day of the World.

* * *
…What if pain be not a foe?
for man enters the world
through pain,
for man rises godlike
from inquisitions
and the blaze of crematories,
and godlike creates
a new world –
from the clay of daily life,
from the voice of the corncrake,
from the colors of the ash bole,
from small words,
articulated for thousands of years…

* * *
To live is to long for eternity,
to plant a tree – to pave the way
to another world
which is in us –
to drink up love to the last drop
so to halt the fleeting moment –
to bear a child under your heart
so to prolong your longing –
up on a sky-high
silvery lily
to climb to a star
and there
in the infinite
to leave your footprints
as a sign
that we’re bigger than ants.


After your mother the first to kiss you was the sun.
Like a distant red island
It shone above the stork’s nest.
And the first sadness of farewell
It left you one evening.
And from the east to the west
An unquenchable fire
Envelops you in an arc on this earth.
And your blood quietly ripples
Your forefathers’ prayer to the sun.

By the sun you sought your path.
By the sun you sought your home.
And by the sun you sought your bonfire.

After your mother the first to kiss you was the sun.


In the hot sunshine at the end of summer
the little towns, in mallow to their roofs,
with lindens growing up to the very white sky,
with their verandahs
where toys and children lie asleep after their lunch;
so quiet,
so far away
from noisy crossings, railway stations, airports,
those little towns
like grains in an unbending heavy wheat-ear.

* * *
I bring to you this poem,
this cottage where a white cloud lives,
where you can come and warm yourself
or be alone.
At table here
they don’t serve silver spoons.
Red carpets aren’t spread out here either.
But I don’t want
you to remain
without a roof.