Стихотворения Юдиты Вайчюнайте (на английском языке)


Where the yard like a sea shell guards
the tiny graceful church,
where green shutters and windows open
onto the sooty snow,
on the pavement’s cross section,
onto clay lives,
and the depth under peat,
where the tree’s holiness rotted,
where the sun’s magical circle
still guards the fireplace flame,
and the green bronze sand,
the bear’s thousand year old mask,
the boar’s teeth amulet,
the ghostly enchancing dance above it –
in medieval clay,
where the alley deepens
towards the Neris’ missing ford.

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


By the railroad tracks and the market,
by the trolleybus stop under snow
I still found the cafe with pigeons –
old women and gypsies gather there,
there I heard the pigeons’ coo
and the morning rustle of their frosted wings,
there I picked up
a snow feather
from the dirty stone floor
and took my bag,
and, with a torn heart
glanced swam into the distance,
through the crossroad’s fading stars,
February clouds…

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


In the central post office
fresh from the springtime sun,
still with their primeval feathers
ferns sway
in shaded flowerpots –
old as the world
they sprouted in the dark,
they spread for the present,
they spread for hope,
and I crumpled up my letter –
I too belong
to that primeval world,
a shaft of sunlight still so green
earthy and eternal
in the post office,
fresh from the springtime sun.

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


In winter’s oblivion, in the snowbound cabin’s
unheated sitting room
only my grandparents’ portraits
have returned to the empty farmstead –
I stumble upon them, by the frozen well at night
as if in a dream
where centuries old midwinter linden trees
reach toward heaven on tiptoe,
and in the dark on a bleached
frost-like wall
so lonely, painted after their deaths,
mourning in midwinter
my country grandparents’ portraits,
every day they become more familiar, every day
I come to resemble them more,
myself evidence of their existence.

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


A shred of newspaper lies on the table. A common statistic.
The people are divided into men and women. There are
Twenty million women.

Nature doesn’t recognize divisions. A shadow grows
Between the two worlds, falling from the unknown soldier’s grave,
Burning the faded lettering –

Twenty million.

They were meant for one another. He was buried.
She remained.
The laments must have been horrible when twenty million
Wept by the grave.

Light loose skirts turn there in the sun.
Here, in this dark corner, twenty million lean heads on hands
Grasping mourning handkerchieves.

There the world’s glare is absorbed by newly opened eyes.
Here twenty million speak to unknown infants and bemoan
And unborn love.

They’re testing the atom somewhere. A shred of newspaper
Lies on the table.
It’s not necessary to say anything.
The paper counts out the dead –
Twenty million.

Translated by Jonas Zdanys


“…and time unfeelingly passes…”

Forgive me if they’re only a herd of pigs.
I herd them from trough to pen.
But if you’re sad, they’ll sit like mute actors
Around the festive table…
And the goblet’s former song, and the drenched black-and-whites
Will muddy the hexametric order,
And eyes brimming with laughter will raise my antique statue…
…But, once the flames go out, the three-legged pot will quiet.
Curses will die.
The same hands will throw out the poisoned pot.
And Circle will obey the most astonished…
And you… You will sleepwalk to the calling light,
The feast.
I will not force you to stay. Sail away,
If you’re afraid of enraging fate, cutting the plot’s red thread…
I give you wine-sacks for your journey.
I offer my wisdom, my gentleness.
A flying ship will carry you near the untraceable cliffs
Of non-existent Ithaca.
O if only you couldn’t see how my large knowing eyes
Shine with sorrow,
Unseen I’ll part with you.
I was hospitable. I kept my word.
Strange one, renouncing me.
You are mine alone…
I love you, Odysseus.

Translated by Jonas Zdanys


“…he didn’t love the beautiful
nymph, even though he rested in
her bed, in her bright room…”

No other can compare with me in brightness of face,
Beauty of hair, or stature…
But the gods envy my good fortune.
I fear their anger.
I am building a boat. I’ll bring you an ax and a drill.
I’ll weave your sails myself – those wings,
Weaving time – that flag, flying and straight,
And in an instant you thirst for me,
And again you press my graceful body
To yours.
I envy all, I envy all without end:
Your wife and your dogs,
Your distant foreign land…
That role is too dificult for me.
Why was this goddess assigned passion,
Importunate and painful, like a miller sprinkled with flour?
You grew tired of me.
For seven years I bound you
With hands, hair and caresses…
Humbled, I longed that you too would be immortal
Like the stars in the sky…
But you spilled the ambrosia,
Running away from my loving grasp, you lamented,
Pressing your face in the sand –
I couldn’t plant even pity in your heart…
In this run-down withering grotto only the sea
Understands me.
I wanted only the best for you.
I love you, Odysseus.

Translated by Jonas Zdanys


“Greetings, traveler, until you
return to your homeland take
heed; don’t forget me…”

I’ve never kissed a man. And my voice – like a wave.
And my body hasn’t known man’s hands.
But I’ve longed for one such as you.
And we were both dizzy with weariness and surprise.
Cursed and blessed be that ball
That we, hanging our clothes up to dry, threw on the shore,
And the two funny jackasses that pulled my small cart
On that ancient golden morning…

I am Nausicaa. I am sailors’ kin.
And I have someone from the dying ship.
And joy – the purple wool my mother spins.
And my father’s house is open – high and generous.
And we raise toasts to heaven like kings and commoners
To our lost and unexpected guest’s honor…
We don’t ask
Why you hide your tears in your cloak –
You are powerful, incomprehensible and free…
Pressed near the column I melt into it…
Let it be concealed how I stood alone
In the great hall,
For no one will ever know how I felt then,
For I can’t admit it even to myself:
I love you, Odysseus.

Translated by Jonas Zdanys


“…I’d go to my grave with
Odysseus’ name in my heart.”

It’s difficult to experience your love –
For no one can change you, for no one is worthy of you.
And why am I to blame if I can wait centuries for you,
Grow deaf, as the court whistles and claps.
And why am I to blame
If I remain lonely and eccentric Penelope.
I want to shine the hearth for you through the
Shell of walls and years. Pure as an idea,
I want to protect
Quiet untouched waters for you,
Like a brimming pot.
Let all women in time feel the longing implanted
In my heart,
Hearing the ocean’s roar in shells and seeing an empty room.
For I, of all, am the one you return to.
One of the faithful.
I have become famous for all time
For my patience and wisdom.
I’ll wipe the blood from your hands with my hair and lips.
I’ll weep with joy at your knees.
I love you, Odysseus.

Translated by Jonas Zdanys


On the table – white dishes, bread and yellow apples.
And summer – beyond the opened window on the fifth floor.
Thunder and rain have quieted.
And the sun sketches
Itself round…
And a woman approaches the plaza – lighthaired and tall.
Drops of water on the roofs flashed for her.
Photographs of the holidays are ready.
These noisy, weary streets were laid with hot hands –
And the window,
calling pigeons from towers
and sparrows,
Rising like a high melody
above ghetto fires,
requiems and ashes…

Translated by Jonas Zdanys


Eight beats the towerclock beneath its white stone bark.
I run along Latako Street, so long and dark,
Along the blue ice of illusions towards your spark.

The benches in the park with rain will shine.
I’ll bring a burning cup – half-joy, half-wine,
And I’ll forget the blue ice is so thin, so fine.

You will be kidnapped by long-distance roaring trains,
But you will need me most – with a desire that pains.
The blue ice blinds – its sparkle never wanes.

My anguish is like seaweed; tangling, it stays whole.
And on the blue glass, vague,
The routes of ships arise before my sight.
I will not hold you…
An unheard-of spectrum floods your soul –
The water’s phosphorescent, strange,
Mysterious light.
I will not hold you…
Seaflowers will unfold…
Yet understand me, if I start to call
With letters never written,
With flashes sent from old
Lighthouses –
Long abandoned, long forgotten.
Those boundless blue expenses are created
For ship and bird…
And I must wait for my stray love
Without a word.

Translated by Dorian Rottenberg

* * *

I go away.
My dress opens and flaps
like an old parachute –
never before did so much wind
and so much space belong to me.
As if a shopwindow with postcards
all districts whirl beneath me, mute,
and like a dandelion, white beside the gates
a century-old pear-tree I can see.
Like soap-bubbles
I blow out varicoloured suns
and bribe the streets
with hardly audible
and slightly hoarse-voiced songs.
At the rusty fountain
I’ll only take a drink out of my palm.
Except the warm day’s dawn
I won’t take anything along…

Translated by Dorian Rottenberg

* * *

Let’s wait till Sunday.
On our bread we’ll spread some kisses and fresh butter,
then feverishly read the circus bills,
about the noisy, gay and sunlit town we’ll flutter
like naughty children seeking thrills.

On sensing noon like dust between the teeth
we’ll fill our tumblers with bright orange beer
and though the crowded bar with folk will seethe
we’ll bear ourselves like brothers sitting near.

The bridges, columns, domes will fly past intermingling,
but we’ll forget that time is also flying on…
Let’s wait till Sunday.
Seven lamps will crash down jingling
before confetti-coloured skies announce the dawn.

Translated by Lionginas Paюыsis

* * *

A yellow field of flowering mustard.
Loneliness and sunshine.
And such a mood –
as if I turned the handle of a kiddy’s organ deep in thought.
All angles are erased
and in the round, warm world of my imagination
something again, transparent and oppressing,
arises in my throat.
These bitter yellow vistas…
I expect a wonder, quite a real one,
and to myself of yesterday
in vain I try to get unused.
All there is left is the great rolling mustard sun,
a state of weightlessness
and love
which can explain the meaning of these tears, this wind
that blows, cold, unamused.

Translated by Dorian Rottenberg

* * *

How the fluff of the poplars and dandelions
and flocks of white buterflies fly!
How thick they set on my rocking chair here
on the balcony open to dawn.
How the earth spins round!
Lest my heart, as in old songs, burst with joy, rock me high
over all these houses,
infect me with the sweet madness of passion born…
What shall I do now?
Perhaps, stuff your pillow with hovering fluff,
or maybe, scatter your black demoniac hair on a cloud, to teach you?
Kiss your lashes and draw your brows on the snow,
till the wind, rude and rough,
grabs and throws us down in the mud beyond heaven’s hills…
But then my hand will no longer reach you!

Translated by Dorian Rottenberg


That white house – a reflection,
where the two of us will live,
where a lonely boy will play
with wet ashberries;
where we will never need to be separated,
where childhood’s beams
will splash from the stones,
and where you can’t avoid me.

Like a dragonfly’s wing from the water
shiny and green
The glass of your opened window quivers in the sun
– I love
you to your depths,
not erased by hundreds of miles
through larch branches
my green gaze hungers for you…

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


bright blue cineraria blossoms
celebrate April’s light –
colorful wild grasses from the Canary Islands
against the deteriorating pulsating walls of the Old City;
yet you realize – there isn’t
a niche here for your pain, your hopelessness
narrow, stuffy –
a white cat dozes curled up on a chair
in a shop –
sun and desperation
a vase of crackling bursting buds
above them rays of light tease shadows
during the dusty heat once more you
feel your very nerves burn
sadness takes root in your heart

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


In the ashy grey Old City
like a billowing scarf –
through cold, dark Vilnius
three kings pass
just three more of the city’s beggars
three of the poorest of the poor
in the silence of midnight
in frozen mid-winter
their tears like jewels
coins clanging
against cobblestone
they will visit each room
above my door with chalk
I will trace the letters of their names
and a star of hope will rise
above the theaters, market squares, and butcher shops.

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


Look into the night, into an overgrown yard
at a well of rubble –
a medieval procession passes, chanting,
carrying a cross
and, in all that commotion,
in a golden whirl of linden blossoms
kicked to death at midnight,
lies a young man under a cloak
nestled against the crumbling walls of the Benedictine
monastery, near Saint Catherine’s,
under her unkempt white towers
in their baroque shadow
in the very eye of the storm
where bitter lightening
never lets up striking
where crows at dawn barely risen
caw impatiently
turning dark circles of unrest

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


Through blue glass beams of light will pass
through broken bits of childhood’s stained glass
through the blue of a coat of arms
through eternity, sick with her secrets,
you will know her healing blue light
as a ripple of cool breeze
the freshness of early violets
being sold already on wet streets
and your stitches will be of deep blue silk
sewn with an ever darkening thread –
and only a small blue bouquet will remain –
like snowflakes melting by the second.

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


raped in the defiled
Trinitarian church
maybe Autumn’s dawn, her golden reflections,
will color your wings.
Angels above niches and windows
still gliding across the large cupola
in the early morning a desperate prayer spreads
from the lips of dead soldiers
candles in the sad church
burn on broken alters
and you hear in the wails of the wounded
the prisoners’ pathos
behind rusted barbed wire
when thirsty lips
mutter God’s name
the earth’s harvest sways
in cornucopias and laurel wreaths
and bells, once cast,
still clang
circles of sound in the reawakening towers
where live hearts beat still.

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


Jasmine tea
beyond the window as it snows
with Bosnia’s blood in the dark
a generous night
in the echo of the slaughter
red menacing clouds –
the laws of nature
two storms crossing;
if you obey
with the wind’s shiver
a grave smile
a wet wall of fog will fall
dusty mist
jasmine blossoms
in a tall fir
jasmine tea as it snows
beyond the window.

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


A bell will sound just inside the door,
of the flower shop in the Old City –
a lonely and frozen house
its center filled with sweet briar
white like a whirlpool of snow
crisp midwinter in blossom
brightening a desperate sunset
as though blossoms could fall and scatter
like your heart painfully cut in two –
when the doors open just a touch
and a small bell of pure silver
chimes just inside twilight’s door.

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


A low corrugated
tin roof shines
on top of it stands a stone chess table
supported by
two foreigners, two quiet elephants,
and a newly sprouted thistle
blooms in the rubble,
sounding an alarm, climbing toward the sun.
The heart does not know
how much time
one is given on earth – it only beats, quivering,
wavering like a sun beam, like blood,
trickling a thin trail.

Translated by Laima Sruoginis


Where shall I start? I was still a child. I was white like
marble and pure. They say I possessed a beauty that is rare. I
was a stranger to this dreary land into which they had married me,
which was ravaged by plagues, where I had no loyal page, where

a disease was constantly shaking my freezing frame. Like a
handful of snow I melted between the palms of my husband Sigismund.
I was homesick. How I cried for my nursemaid, my sisters, my
women friends. And in the end I succumbed to the fog which
covers this cold and foreign place.

Let me rest in peace. Barbara, I was not in your way.
I died like a nun as the trees began to bloom.
I used to watch until you and Sigismund receded from my sight.
Now let some other child catch the reflection of my veil.

Translated by M. Graюina Slavлnas


Both daughters-in-law have died. And who shall ever know
if I did or did not pour the poison into their Venetian glass.
I was poisoned myself. Death is only a joke. I am bored.
Hand me my lute and let me play.

I became their fate almost against my will. This old theatre mask.
It’s the fate of the Sforzas to have blood cling to their name.
My fate was to cling to Sigismund, my son, with maddening pain.
In the mirrored walls of these halls I see the same lonely face which I was when I first arrived.

Who knows, perhaps the daughters-in-law died a natural death.
Perhaps it is wrong to place the blame on a woman who herself never knew the torments of passionate love.
Therefore, Barbara, savage stranger, take care.
I hate you even in illness and begrudge your happiness.
And I want you dead.

Translated by M. Graюina Slavлnas


We used you like the queen in chess or the queen in cards.
On a velvet pillow we presented you with the royal crown.
Through you it finally touched the proud brow of a Radvila.
But for you, Barbara, it turned into a crown of thorns.

We moved you around like a pawn to suit our schemes.
We married you to old Goрtautas, a heap of ash.
Then we encrusted your love in a scepter and in a grave.
We used your beauty as our revenge on those
who had slandered our name.
We wanted it to prevail over death.

We crossed our swords to bar the entrance to your door.
Sigismund’s lust we used to bestow on our house
the highest reward.
Royal mistresses die unknown. But to you we gave lasting fame.
As you pined away by your window – we immortalized you
in a royal crest.

Translated by M. Graюina Slavлnas


For Queen Barbara
Our Lady of Auрros Vartai

The beauty of those eyes, their sadness, has come alive
in my portrait. I painted you as a northern Madonna.
I watched you cry for your stillborn child. I remember
your sudden smiles.
I watched your endless waiting for messages from the King.

This endless waiting became your fate. It marked your features
with grief. And so I removed you from the palace and took you
into the public square. I gave you the headdress
of an ordinary, low-born woman. I painted you without your crown
or your princely gowns. But some centuries later

the jewelers of Vilnius enshrined you in splendid robes,
adorned you with golden tulips and silver leaves
and lifted you into the chapel above the city gate.
And in the end your strange belated fate
was to be the sky with its blinding dawns.

Translated by M. Graюina Slavлnas


I shall never turn into yellow parchment. I shall never grow old.
My love, like a poet’s verse, gives me strength to prevail.
Here I was born. Now I am known as the Vilnius Renaissance.
Here my beauty resides forever, defying time.

They returned me after my death. My casket was narrow and dark.
Behind it the steady rhythm of hoofs like a ticking clock.
Behind it Sigismund’s rasping, scorching breath.
Even in death I was true to these skies.

I returned to this city in fog. The muted gleam of its spires.
I returned to its gentle, soothing rains.
They took me from here not to a coronation.
Then they brought me back.
But I, having touched this ground, prevailed.

Translated by M. Graюina Slavлnas


Lemon peels,
a taste of cinnamon,
wine from the Balkans, all now drained.
And the morning just so clean, that
free of any
god, human, or devil,
in an empty apartment like this,
in the glare of hot tin and glass,
inside a white
wheel –
the insane June sun –
I lie, stretched like a cross, and my crying does no good.
For my chipped-off, shattered wings,
their dust shining above the streets,
for my bare shoulders trembling in the light,
I cannot abide you,
yet I still open my mouth
to the coarse, purple whirlwind you are.

Translated by Vyt Bakaitis


Twilight’s midsummer glow, flashing swallows,
dreams of midsummer nights, all good as new
at jogging the heart still,
with the same trains,
hooting at midnight,
all those old
wagons, jarring the dark,
their locomotives,
and head-spinning embering glow, that you pressed towards
until the thistle bloomed purple for you
right by the railway and its iron vein.

Translated by Vyt Bakaitis


In the dark time of year
your darker part
converts to dreams, you’ll feel
it’s night and seem adrift:
a massive comet streaks
above your temporary dwelling,
drifts pile in before dawn and, beyond,
earth gets lost in the blitz
a massive comet streaks in
its millennial recurrence,
snowing, sifts still rioting in play,
with nature all iced in,
let hope take over again,
get the tower bells to swing:
with Easter swinging away,
the day grows longer still.

Translated by Vyt Bakaitis


A day like this one, early
they’d conjure from clouds, in ancient times,
a day like this, early
that’s full of returning birds
again I pour
my voice into sacred song,
and just as in childhood, again
I am summer swan, rainbow bridge,
the flapping bare feet
on a run down the pavement,
fear of death the breeze
clears, early like this
a day the ancestors conjured from clouds.

Translated by Vyt Bakaitis



Mary’s parents met
by the golden Jerusalem gate:
Joachim, the droves of cattle behind him,
and a radiant Anne,
their shadows moved as if alive
behind the stained-glass windows,
the wife dozing off, holding
the white lamb like a child in her arms.
Now I have seen their joyous aged faces,
they will stay unchanged:
lucid, concerned, having just heard the rumor
full of mystery and meaning,
in silence and darkness of the sanctuary
a seven-branched candelabra has flared,
the parents of Mary have met
by the golden Jerusalem gate.


While the sainted Anne,
her arm around little Mary
and a book on her knees,
is teaching the child to read,
I have seen that somewhere:
in childhood’s muffled room
the old picture radiating light,
while the window shows
snow falling, so quietly, on the street,
and the setting sun
opens a fan in knit purples
at midwinter twilight,
while the little girl nestles close
to her mother, their movements are
a gentle surge,
but the city already has
Roman troops at their posts.

Translated by Vyt Bakaitis


The frozen dream lakes
envisioned one Christmas Eve,
the water’s morning glint
through the blindness of a solid wall,
a wall solid brick, stacked up in the dark,
just a window
into space, cut
like a hole in ice: with it open,
you’d lean there,
confronted by stars in the winter dark,
with a frosted rose there,
an encrusted ficus up high,
wave on wave of snowed-in rooftops
through the aloe hedge,
O the lakes of dreaming,
O the bleak lids on oblivion,
the small white marble table over there,
that small cup
with an edging for those who won’t forget,
the snowdrifts in bleak clouds.

Translated by Vyt Bakaitis