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Henrikas Algis Čigriejus (1933-2016) published his first poems in 1977. He wrote poetry for several decades, sweet, nostalgic verse about rural life, the beauty of nature and the little spot on the face of the earth that is a human being. In spite of themes that sound rather old-fashioned to a 21st-century reader, his poetry is truly some of the most beautiful Lithuanian literature, in the purest sense of the word. He has never been interested in major issues or problems, always merely describing the world in a grain of sand, we could say. In the 1990s, quite unexpectedly, and at a late age, he published his first collection of novellas, and three more followed. While many critics observe that his prose is as lyrical as his poetry, the novellas, which are very often losely based on childhood memories or later experiences of a long and loving life, are so charged with bitter-sweet nostalgia that they are quite sure to force a tear out of the more sensitive reader.

Bio taken from:
https://english.lithuanianculture.lt/lithuanian-culture-guide/2018/07/10/henrikas-algis-cigriejus/?highlight=%22%C4%8Digriejus%22

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Graphic Novels

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From the poetry book Žiemių pusėje giedra (Fine Weather in the North, 2009)

Translated by Ada Valaitis

 

 

 

Full Moon

 

A full moon shines onto a bookcase –

Will the books now start going mad

Like lunatics; old Hidalgo,

Already a seasoned lunatic, now, I see, standing around.

His helmet shines furiously.

 

And it thwarts my desire to sleep,

Naively thinking that at least at night

On the infinite road of time

It is still possible

To rest.

 

The highway of highways – a strange string –

Continually burning in the moonlight,

And there they are – the somnambulists,

Those crazy

 

 

 

The Roof Mender

 

Now this is what it means to climb a little higher!

Stepas Zobarskas, from The Roofer

 

My father never scaled the Alps,

Why would he do that?! But when a roof required mending

Atop a granary or barn, Oh, what a world opened up before him -

Oh, and not only, not only the neighbor’s cottages.

 

He saw the road and a tiny little person –

A big bug; and how the road turns on past

Through the birch grove, winds, meanders

Through autumn and homeland - - -

 

And sometimes he saw the journey of journeys,

The strange one, the final one - - -

He also saw how clever doubt, un-hanged

But also unreleased

Pushes you from one ditch to another

(Is this the beer talking?) - - -

 

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Well, know this – you can see

The most interesting things from

A rooftop.

 

 

 

The Deceased

 

One day a fool wanted to see how he would look

When laid to rest, so he lay down

In a flower bed, rustled,

He may have startled

The dahlias and asters.

 

Looking up he saw: small light clouds gather,

Swallows skate by, birch trees waving to someone –

To those still suffering, bearing their

Small crosses

Along Adam’s and Eve earth.

 

A hornet attempted to nest in his hair,

But changed its mind:

This kind of corpse?! He may not get the joke –

Fool - - -

 

And lying there he heard everything: the fox bark,

How children ran from house to house,

He just lay there, until an old lady stood at his head

With her hands at her hips.

 

- - - - - - - - -

 

I like these kinds of scenes –

Because they are peaceful and provide healthy laughter:

You’ll see with your own eyes just how easily, how quickly

A person sometimes

Leaps away from

Death.

 

 

 

* * *

 

Do you still have time to read good books?

You do. Read then about important people,

Biographies of the Ingenious, so to speak – this is what you’ll read:

There and there (and then and then) this person was born,

And at the very end: there and there (and then and then)

He up and died.

 

Well, you can skip over a few of the pages, actually hundreds of pages

In the middle – is it terribly important to know

Where he lavishly squandered his honor or drank wine,

Tore through secret doors after illicit trysts

Took vengeance on, or shot, or stabbed his brother or friend,

Amassed a small fortune, misspent that same small fortune,

Corresponded even with kings,

But then like an eagle owl

One day

He up and died.

 

 

 

* * *

 

Who is still searching for me in those fields?

Oh that’s the voice of the unhappy bird.

Surely, but what shall I

Share with him?

 

I will read him a stanza of poetry

Or a verse from Ecclesiastes –

About the fog, only the fog…

Perhaps he’ll understand.

 

Well yes – we’ve seen those fogs

We flew and waded underneath them.

Oh birds and humans; oh uncles and aunts,

The dearest the dearest (most important!)

Girls - - -

 

 

 

A Puff of Tree Bark Smoke

 

Smoke of smoldering birch bark is the finest fragrance

Unfortunately there are no more birch trees. And summer is over,

After we beat one another with birch branches in the sauna, we’ll honor the jug,

And that is all. And that is all. And it is time.

 

Your heart aches, a chill runs down

Your warmed back: well where did you go,

Where did you run away and where did you fly away,

Where did you take my pants?!

 

I see the brave birds hunt far away,

Bouncing from treetops,

Cursing not in Lithuanian, but like brothers

Lithuanians

Not sharing

The small honor

 

Autumn approaches – with absolute certainty

It will arrive and say: you don’t have to think

About honor and death –

You’ll end up dying

Which is really unhealthy.

 

 

 

 

From “The Vilnius Review”, 2009, Autumn / Winter (No 26).

 

 

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