Literature created in the foreign lands is often characterized by the nostalgia of the native land, homelessness and other features. The search for the dialogue with the lost world unites all the Lithuanian land poets. In their poetry they solve the existential problems of the human life having philosophical, deep psychological, religious and other aspects. According to the theory by M. Buberis, E.
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In he began to study architecture, but soon switched to the study of Lithuanian and German at the University of Vytautas the Great in Kaunas. During the period , with a year's leave in Freiburg, he continued his studies at the Innsbruck University of Austria, majoring in German literature and history of art; here he received a doctorate for a study of the poetry of Georg Traki.
The first poems of Henrikas Nagys appeared in Lithuanian press in and ; since then he has made a notable contribution to Lithuanian poetry. Hoelederlin, R. Rilke, F. Kafka and others , from American literature C. Sandburg, T. Wilder , and from Latvian literature. In addition, Henrikas Nagys is a well-known critic and publicist of Lithuanian literature, a contributor to numerous newspapers and periodicals.
Being unsatisfied with erotic, patriotic, and religious themes, Nagys turned to the totality of human existence and extolled man's freedom for self-determination and his indeterminateness.
Henrikas Nagys was readily accepted by the youth and was influential among the younger generation of poets. During the formative period of , one finds in Nagys' poetry almost all developments of the modern Lithuanian poetry. Nagys matured poetically in the poetic tradition of Western Europe; R. Dehmel, F. Nietzsche, R. Rilke and G. Byron were especially influential in his work.
The poetry of Nagys is individualistic, idealistic and ideological. The principal ideas raised in Nagys' poetry are: the human struggle with the gray every day existence, the difficult human loneliness, the tragedy of death and transitoriness, promethean protest, the heroic spirit, the quest for an illusory ideal, and the torturous longing for perfect love.
With powerful symbols and poetic parabolas Nagys writes about the insufficiency of earthly reality and the gnawing thirst for a more perfect reality. Nagys sharply depicts human conflicts without trying to provide a final philosophical solution to them. Often his poetry has a gloomy sense. Nagys, however, refuses to view human problems pessimistically and encounters them with a resisting spirit and a belief in the potential greatness of man.
His poetry is youthful and committed. He attempts to change the world, to address man; he connects poetry intimately with ideological decisions. Formally, Nagys rejects the traditional poetic schemes and instead uses free rhythm, numerous assonances, and free flow.
Its features are suggestiveness, power, clarity of symbols, and its universal meaning. Nagys is one of the creators of the modern vocabulary of Lithuanian poetry.
In the land of blue snow there is no land. Late in the evening we came to the city gates. Watchmen held out flaming torches to see our faces.
We listened in silence to their painful curses, our hearts throbbing, our tatters soaked with autumn rain. Come in, you tramps!
We went in, into the town of our birth, having carried it long in our hearts. Kneeling, we kissed the stones of the streets and became drunk with abundance of words remembered from lullabies. We thirstily drank from the passing lips. Children with wide wondering eyes stood in the streets. Until midnight How good it is to cry the tears of native clouds. How good it is to sleep in the pavement of my birthplace.
Someone passes by us laughing. He blows out the lights. A pale street walker collapses beside us sighing. We rise. We are trees — silent and dumb.
Our wooden shoes echo on dark street corners like dry coughs. The wind sways our rain-soaked, empty arms. Later we scooped up salty water with sweaty helmets. And in the sea sand — as in a grave — we slept under overturned boats with stray dogs and the crumbled galaxies of yellow amber.
And with withered gray hands, we clutched them to our bare breasts tattooed with pierced hearts and sailing ships And did not awake in the morning, not ever again awake in the moving sand of the sea town of our birth. Strings of lifeless locomotives. Rusty rails in the fog. In the work yard tar-spattered dandelions sway in the wind. Small dirty hands gather them and take them home. Behind smoky basement windows an old woman smiles in her sleep.
Weeping women carry baskets of bleeding fruit and cringe when the trains scream. Crowds of poplars have gathered in the gully to bury the dead sun. I listen to their dirge while awaiting father's return:. His red lantern swings far off in the night. Heavy familiar steps! With a coarse sweaty hand he strokes my hair Beyond the river soldiers sing In the flaming doorway mother waits for us.
Quietly crackling, the night burns in the hearth. Tonight I can feel — he leaves his house: —the autumn rainstorm beats against the panes — he staggers in the streets, covering his face with his arms as he weeps. I know. And I say to him:. I speak to you. My silent brother. When you are weeping I weep with you. When I say: I am like a tree — solitary, proud — then you can say: I am lonely and proud like my brother.
You have come alone. In the old German town remember? The cathedral clock chimes the hour of ruins. White moonlight crumbles. In the shadow of heavy counterforce, where an Angel blows the trumpet of Judgment, our footsteps stayed and echo.
In Adelaide, you. In the jabber of parrots you search for a lost gray bird. The brick gate is red. In Adelaide. The newborn moon blooms in the cherry orchard. In Hong Kong. Yellow and round, like a copper plate. Like a gong. My little sister with almond eyes, porcelain fingers, watches how silk weavers indifferently die on the fragile bridge railings in Hong Kong.
Rye whiskey is sweet. Shadows on thin silk waver like hollow reeds in a faint aquarelle. The bread of famine sticks in the throat. Shadows wander from gray suburbs through the marijuana smoke of the cafe like puppets. And the moon blooms yellow in the desert. In the harbor. Gleaming and round, like a copper plate. My sister forgot a thousand years ago that she knows how to laugh and cry.
On the pond's surface under the fragile bridge railings in Hong Kong, Gioconda looks up at me with almond eyes. Efua, lakes of white moon milk ripple in your dream. Supple is your black skin, like the sacred Modder Forest in the evening.
Efua, your young heart is like the thumping of your bare and drunken feet, the drums' tom-tom and the rhythmical harvest song. Efua, in your dream the orange sun has ripened, naked bride of the morning and stone of innocence.
Translations from Henrikas Nagys
„Dialogiškumas žemininkų poezijoje: Alfonsas Nyka-Niliūnas, Henrikas Nagys“