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a palmers chronicle right bw

Donaldas Kajokas is an author of some of the most beautiful poems that have ever been written in Lithuanian: pure, precise, serene, and heartbreaking. For a very long time Kajokas has been interested in Eastern religions and philosophy, mostly Buddhism, and that has had a strong influence on his work. He is a true bard of beauty and the symmetry of the world and its every detail. He is one of the most translated Lithuanian poets. And one of the most impossible to translate...

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 Irena Teresė Daukšaitė-Guobienė, Poetical moment, 2010, aquatint, etching, 37,5 x 56,5 cm.  From The Modern Art Center collection
 

No, the Nightingale of Dawn, No, Of Course, Yes!

how it trills on an old pulpit
in bushes on the Hill of Brides

how it trills – O horror – as if admiring
the moon in dead Roman ruins

admiring it so hopefully
with its paleness still able to arouse

admiration – arousing eternal yearning
for admiration, arousing the admiration of yearning

and how she admires – ex cathedra – the horror
of how lucidly and unfailingly she admires

the vanished town of Prienai in my adolescence
warbled into being this morning again

high above that old antique town – O my
Pyrenees of Prienai

arousingly she admires it – admiring
it like an Andalucian

as if
she were angry

 

***

it tousles foams stretches
into the hurrying cloud

it tramps teases cracks the roadside
with the fibres of its soles

it crosses itself and spreads
like a thousand fans in the wind

it flutters whistles rustles
and kneeling grabs at your wrists

at your tired sabot
shoelaces – you see, even it,

the penance of this
waving grass of the wastes,

has its pride
rabi

 

***

Autumn. A restive, mighty November – and here
the black sun of night has risen

above a few of Caligula’s cripples at the gates –
Vergils Salomés Fausts brothers from Judea

who croon champ stir and have no intentions of sleeping
howling in cellars about who sleeps with who and who without

who is drunk and who ostensibly alive hasn’t tasted ambrosia
who is in God’s kingdom and who was given the copper pipe

yes, autumn was like that –
swinging

blackly mendacious
our own

 

Again the Pang in my Palate

just rain and all rain
again by the mosque

so mighty and slanting
so incorrect

a different rain
from another time

once gave me
the correct answer

to an unanswerable
question –

so much serenity here
a park’s serenity

that hoarse, damp
laughter, that wind

that umbrella tumbling
on a November lawn –

unstoppable
unattestable

 

Foreigner (I)

a muddled piece of ice
on the banks of the Rhine

I don’t care
who you are nor why

but still
I understand you

despite not knowing
your tongue

knowing almost no
foreign tongue but, you know,

my own, the only one,
which is sometimes too much

 

Inclement October Night

how many years? probably the second hundred –
a street, a drugstore, a sign and of course, the streetlight

it tries – pouring that drab, murky light
into the rain, pouring and pouring

yet the light is as in Blok’s time:
there’s no more of it than then

 

***

under a full moon, through thick moonlight
three angels from Mount Lu came to visit

smiling, they showed me my soul
and seeing it – somehow sleepily, not deeply

I watched it going out like a pulsing ember
and what was strangest – it was standing in water

as in a strange land, the very top of a distant
drop – like in the palm of a hand

and all of creation stretched out in a band
below: multiplying, it swooned...

then it woke up, my soul did,
but not on Mount Lu

maybe on Mount Lu
but in Plato’s cave

 

On Life

tossing and turning sometimes at night maybe snoring
I pet a doggie in the morning and listen to the willows
moan about the rain the sunshower spending half the day
watching the flight of swallows and their agile art
my goodness and their wings cut so unerringly....

what? life?
let life live itself

it’s not stupid after all
it knows what it’s doing

 

Translated by Rimas Užgiris

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