VLADAS BRAZIŪNAS (b. February 17, 1952) is a Lithuanian author of nine books of poetry, essayist and translator of Byelorussian, Croatian, French, Latvian, Polish, Serbian, Russian, Ukrainian poetry; a member of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union and the Lithuanian PEN center.

Vladas Braziūnas grew up in the town of Pasvalys in northern Lithuania. At Vilnius University he studied journalism and Lithuanian philology. Vladas has mostly worked at various cultural and literary publications and has served as an editor-in-chief for the weekly Literatūra ir menas (Literature and Art). Since 1996, Vladas has concentrated on creative work.

Vladas Braziūnas’ poetry was first published in 1974. However, the first book of poems Slenka žaibas (As Lightning Moves) was held up at the publisher’s for seven years due to its “ideological and artistic (!) immaturity”. The year it was published (Vaga, 1983) Vladas received Zigmas Gėlė prize for the best poetry debut.
 
Between 1986 and 2002 Vladas has published eight more poetry books:
Voro stulpas (Vaga, 1986);
Suopiai gręžia dangų (Vaga, 1988);
Užkalbėti juodą sraują (Vaga,1989);
Išeinančios pušys (Vyturys, 1992);
Alkanoji linksniuotė (Vaga, 1993);
Užkalinėti (Vaga, 1998; Salomėja Nėris prize);
Ant balto dugno (Lietuvos rašytojų sąjungos leidykla, 1999);
lėmeilėmeilėmeilė (Vaga, 2002);
Būtasis nebaigtinis / Imparfait (translated to French by Genovaitė Dručkutė; Petro ofsetas, 2003).

In 2002, Vladas Braziūnas’ poem Karilionas tūkstančiui ir vienai aušrai was selected as the winner at the literary competition organized by the chancellary of the President of the Republic of Lithuania on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the Lithuanian state. It was published in 2003 by Kronta.

Vladas Braziūnas has published translations of Byelorussian, Croatian, French, Latgalian, Latvian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, and Ukrainian poetry, and Latvian, Russian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian proze (in 1990, Vyturys published the book Černobylis (Chernobyl) by the Ukrainian writer Yuriy Scherbak; in 1989 – the diary of the Latvian exile Ojārs Mednis). Together with Sigitas Geda and Kęstutis Nastopka, Vladas Braziūnas translated the collection of poems Vabzdžių žingsniai (Baltos lankos, 1997) by the Latvian poet Uldis Bērziņš. In 2003, the Lithuanian Writers’ Union has published a collection of poems by Alicja Rybałko, translated from Polish by Vladas Braziūnas. For his achievements in translating Ukrainian poetry, Vladas received the Taras Sevchenko Fund award in 2002.

Vladas Braziūnas has contributed to the following antologies, literary  and cultural almanachs, and poetry collections:
Kasparas, Rimantas. Žvaigždynų ratas: Lyrika, satyra, kritika / Editor: Vladas Braziūnas. - Vilnius: Vaga, 1985;
Namai, kuriuose visados: [Antology of ecological poetry by young Lithuanian poets] / Editor: Vladas Braziūnas. - Vilnius: Vyturys, 1989;
Mes esam šiaurės krašto: Pasvaliečių literatūros almanachas, skiriamas Pasvalio miesto įkūrimo 500-mečiui / Editors: Vladas Braziūnas, Mykolas Karčiauskas, Albinas Kazlauskas, Eugenijus Matuzevičius; Prepared by Vladas Braziūnas. - Vilnius: Danielius, 1997;
Mes esam šiaurės krašto: Kultūros atminties almanachas / Prepared by Vladas Braziūnas. - Vilnius: Danielius, 1998;
Poezijos pavasaris 2001 / Editors: Vladas Braziūnas, Eugenijus Ališanka. - Vilnius: Vaga, 2001;
Jonutis, Raimondas. aušra kambary be langų : eilėraščių rinktinė / Prepared and edited by Vladas Braziūnas. - Vilnius: Lietuvos rašytojų sąjungos leidykla, 2003.

Vilnius, 2003


MIRY COLLECTION

By Romas Daugirdas

      Vladas Braziūnas. lėmeilėmeilėmeilė
      Vilnius: Vaga, 2002, 143 p.
    
     While presenting the ninth poetry collection lėmeilėmeilėmeilė by Vladas Braziūnas, a poet of the middle generation, we would like to remind readers that this is not the first time he has appeared in this magazine. Three books by him, Alkanoji linksniuotė (The Hungry Conjugation, 1993), Užkalinėti (Boarded Up, 1998) and Ant balto dugno (On the White Bottom, 1999), were reviewed in the last issue, while some translations of his poetry were published in 2001.
    We should point out that working on various editorial boards after studying the Lithuanian language and literature did not exhaust the poet’s lyre, although he has been complaining it did. It was only in recent years that he has devoted all his time to his creative work, which has the hallmark of high linguistic culture.
    What might attract a foreign reader in the work of this poet? In my view, it could be the intersections of opposites. In form, Vladas Braziūnas’ work looks very modern: the author experiments daringly with language and syntax, he is characterised by a refined balancing of semantic fields. Yet behind all this, there hides an archaic world perception (or a stylisation of it) related to ancient agrarian culture. His attempts to break into dynamic urbanised spaces are not very successful. The artificial urban geometry disrupts the contours of the pantheistic world image.
   The poet combines successfully the freedom of improvisation and the discipline of text. The initial impression of an involuntary flow (frequently quite miry) is deceptive. The poems are “carved” with a firm hand, and the occasional baroque flourish is ruthlessly checked.
    A thick ethnic layer that highlights the peculiarities of the language, toponymy and customs of the area around Žiemgala where the poet was born sand out in all the collections, including the present one. Unfortunately, these can hardly be translated into other languages. He seems to be erecting a monument to things receding and disappearing, and attempts to spontaneously stop the flow.
   The lexicon of this latest collection features more abstractions, yet they do not affect the prevailing texture of concrete empiricism. Rather, they signify attempts to tame the world, from a lump of soil to the most distant stars.

The Vilnius Revie
w: magazine of the Lithuanian Writer’s Union
Spring. - Summer 2003. - No 13. - P. 91-92.


POEMS
by VLADAS BRAZIŪNAS

Translated by Antanas Danielius


p e r s o n a l   p r o n o u n s
(a s m e n i n i a i   į v a r d ž i a i)

i

everyone can utter I and be right,
I, so and so, promise, I love, I am deceived,
what i have spoken, felt, what lies i told –
i did not lie about one thing, that i am I,

a boundless monosyllable that started up at night
and seemed to feel there was something lacking;
and what is lacking? Feeling just like that
i shall never be right: i am I, not you,

even when you have stolen me and are dreaming now,
when your hot breast is heaving, lips are trembling,
you have already uttered, letting me loose,
and why not me? and you? and all the rest?


you

splitting, when one tries to clear it up,
the world allows us to address it: YOU, world,
the Almighty Lord, and rain, and a high-school girl
are equally deceived: YOU are everything

i can collect you glance by glance and spread
like a heap of scattered manuscripts, and every word
– fire, bliss, pronoun – will be the doorless home
for you to enter and to settle in.

to leave, to stay, you are not a photo,
not the past, not a recollection, even not the pain
alive in me, this blossom here,
not yet open, a waking storm – not you, but YOU


he

HE is that what remains from us,
a glance breaks away from a glance, a number from a memorial
HE am coming back hunched, downhearted
and the running bird that has drunk from a kiss – it is me

HE hushes and darkens, and starts guiltily hearing a word,
the third everywhere and always, he disappears at midday,
what you have is no comfort, it is not he, runaway, almost worthless,
he is not who sings and dances and whom, the invisible,

you desire to shelter in your soul – you and me, but HE
only breaks away from us and tingles, and irritates eyes,
simply permeates the dream and crushes it into grating gravel
and thrusts a sooty mirror towards me


we

WE is the pretend both of us,
we pretend to accept everything and say WE,
i and someone else, you and someone else are senseless,
crumbs, not to mention everything, if without us

the slow watch has never said WE to the fast watch,
but my sleeplessness says with your dozing lips:
we, invisible, we, inaccessible, our breath is we
and children, unlike us, our eyes

take some things to heart, but they do not see
how we part, hurry, lock the door, retire into
ourselves, where we shall never have to pretend
that we accept everything into the world of the holy dual number



last night I dreamed for the first time
(šiąnakt pirmąkart sapnavau)

you just came, asked my mum, if I am at home, and the dream ended,
like all dreams, meetings and lives and untimely,
always crossing at one question,
since my mother is no more, I am less and less, and the answer is known

mum continues asking who has been there,
I get confused, blush and awake, the world
goes round its axis – the frail figure at the end of the corridor,
who still sees me through the reflection in the window

I write my first poem for you during a geometry lesson,
in the grey autumn background, my heart is jumping with joy,
four and a half stanzas of sheer commonplaces,
so stinging, that I would give everything

for my darling, the princess of my dreams;
I failed to say a word, though saw her so many times,
the day seems oppressive and lessons eternal,
and the eternal alarm: all shelters are closed


Vilnius Classicism
(Vilniaus klasicizmas)

there is a person who has risen from the crowd,
a ship, sunk in sad thoughts, the death
of long grief is valid, the decline of the kingdom,
disgraced by Tarquinius’ son
ichthyophagists’ presents, a mouse,
a frog and a bird, fire arrows,
Smuglevičius and Vilnius watercolours,
reports in paitings, a possibility
to change the course of history and to give
freedom to the Utopian peasant,
the frog, the mouse of the manor,
to give him Goliath’s power, a Scythian helmet,
or an Ethiopian bow: when one is flying – shoot,
you have chosen: the white chessmen begin and perish,
the steed’s neck is soft like the pike’s belly,
embrace in the background of a crowd, the choice is
an eye and a nostril, soaked with sand
and brown blood, Radvila’s wife
like a midget, only her slipped out breast
feeds the dream kite from a goblet,
St Gaetano of the Trinitarians,
multiply the bread


the old man and the sea
(senis ir jūra)

the old man bowed to the earth
and did not say anything more

a ladybird looked for a path
in the ditch between breasts

a cranberry got filled with blood
and was ripening to a golden apple

he slaughtered and skinned
a completely black bull,

burned its entrails, bones and meat
to save the Sembian from Poles

he killed, singled and cleaned,
cut the teats and into the sea,

he repeated, how he lay down and got up,
brothers elected him god,

the old man bowed to the earth
and he was deprived of speech

the world is touching, uncertain
like wrinkles of the beloved


(„špokai ir mažieji uoksų paukšteliai manuos…”)

*
* * * * *
* * * ** * * *

starlings and little birds of hollow in my
starling-houses are my most
powerful patrons, my playful
companions,    and first of all
my soul’s equilibrating candles
with waxen wicks of beaks, dotted
diminutive peacocks with pearl
crowns and golden rings
on their little legs – one will
catch and pick them up not
really take them off, not really
only so it is said in a song, that
was dreamed about, that
all from nothing – actually was



a bifurcate candlestick received as a present
(dovanota dvišaka žvakidė)

1.

the guardian angel, roughly made by a convict,
from my bookshelf
(as if from the Bernardinai pulpit
he would listen, how Somebody in his hollow breast
creates unlimited space and fulfillment) is silent,
the one he failed to guard is again,
again behind bars,
the hunchbacked recidivist
serpent does not care a fig any more


2.

we, too, shall be poured
into the falling-in well,
we shall talk with Bernotas below ground,
with grit, with mould,
a labourer will water the swinging sweep
from the socket of the perished Bėris,
sinkholes will widen from surprise,
white with Christmas snow –
the brimful crib, the bifurcate crowns
of trees will bloom, two candles,
the blinking of snow goldfinches
will sting and ache
till Latvia


everything will be a dream about
(visa bus sapnas apie)

everything will be infallible as a dream
however erroneous, the teeth continue to rot
and fall out, they keep saying,
you will lose your parents who left for God

long ago – it is not about the one, wrapped in a blue bathrobe
who steps out of a blue basin
into a green playing ground –
it is blue and green all over the place

but about the one in the Highlands,
among yokes and oxen, who likes sweets,
and in the Lowlands, who with woodmen
looks round, maybe sensing the sea


the root
(šaknis)

hump-backed rammed roads
overgrew with wormwood and poplars,
a flock of bullfinches plucked
my favourite sleepless rowan

who crooked its branches that way,
who bent the trunk so strangely,
the bark peeled off, I awoke
in a full blossom of clouds, amazed,

everything is not here, not high,
not in the bullfinch’s fly,
I am eternally grateful to her,
whom I saw after I died.




Explanations:
Pranciškus Smuglevičius (Franciszek Smugliewicz; 1745–1807) – a painter and professor of art.
Radvila (Radziwiłł; Radivilus, Radivillus) – a member of an influential noble family.
Bernardinai – a church of St. Bernardin in Vilnius.
Bernotas – maybe the Lithuanian poet Albinas Bernotas (b.1934).
Bėris – a popular name for a horse.
Highlands=Aukštaitija, Lowlands=Žemaitija; the two principal ethnic regions in Lithuania.





Braziūnas, Vladas. Poems: Personal pronouns: i [; p. 116–117]; you [tu, p. 117]; he [jis; p. 117–118]; we [mes; p. 118]; last night I dreamed for the first time [šiąnakt pirmąkart sapnavau; p. 118–119]; Vilnius Classicism [Vilniaus klasicizmas; p. 119–120]; the old man and the sea [senis ir jūra; p. 120]; „starlings and little birds of hollow…” [„špokai ir mažieji uoksų paukšteliai …”; p. 121]; a bifurcate candlestick received as a presentdovanota dviguba žvakidė; p. 121–122]; everything will be a dream about [visa bus sapnas apie; p. 122]; the root [šaknis; p. 122–123] / Translated by A.Danielius // Vilnius: Lithuanian literature, culture, history. - 2001. - Summer. - P. 116–123. www.culture.lt/vilnius/vilnius2001-1/116psl.htm

 




Translated by JONAS ZDANYS

Group portrait
(grupinis portretas)

                            for Algimantas Aleksandravičius

the final beginning: apparitions – the waters glide
the frightened mood, hasps closed hard, the palm
into a cupped hand, a convulsive fist, fist of women, go out,
look, the stains of lightheat try to converse

with the meditating, it seems, all finding themselves before
the lenses, hiding behind a mask, float to
the zone of obscurity, the author waits for rain, perhaps
it will wash clean, float on its streams the washed

the naked, the uncomforted, the untranslatable into
language familiar to us, all that matters is the light
coming from the final darkness, only the eye
only half an eye illuminating half a glance sinks

into an infant’s body, wrinkles, wrinkled clouds
filled with rain, undrained, the relationship subjective
causal connections but invisible, ocular pressure rises
the flood rises, the ebbtide explodes, carries us away

Braziūnas, Vladas. Group Portrait / Translated by Jonas Zdanys; Competition for the most photographic Poem. III place // Poetinis Druskininkų ruduo 2002=Druskininkai Poetic Fall 2002. - V.: Vaga, 2002. - P. 293.


Yesterday is tomorrow
(vakar yra rytoj)

in my other life as a horse
I worked like a horse, during a funeral
in the early middle ages in the Prussian
contests I was driven exhausted, still alive, into a hole   
pushed on my knees face down, my front legs
bent, pressed up against my breastbone, crack
went the first and second vertebrae in my neck, eyes
turned to the setting sun, toward overseas gulls, rump
lifted high
in my other life as a horse
I sweated in a German mine in Bohemia
in rathole darkness, went blind
one night, standing under
the new moon, they led me to stable, then later slowly 
at night, as the moon fattened to full, my blinders
went wider and wider, they seasoned me
in my other life as a horse
having brought Mickevičius from Naugardukas to Vilnius
I wandered the city’s streets
on wooden sandals
to die – everyone to that beloved land, to Vilnius
now I am an apparition in Belmont
it happens too that I’m frightened
by thieves and cars in Sereikiškės
on my neck dragging a policeman
the color of distant woods

in my other life as a bird I worked as a nightingale
in a town of hills and valleys near the Danube, framed
by forests, groves, in fields in Lithuania
I wakened the hayreapers
in my other life as a bird
all just barely dark night long from May to June
I went mad, all slavic night long
I went to race with evening’s
and later with morning’s birds, shutting
them all off, the rabid cuckoo
of morning still surprised the naked poet
Europennies in his pocket, the pocket in the other room
love remains, death and recruits
you will cuckoo yourself

in my other life as a poet
I noticed that all French girls, if we travel
lay down or fly – put me to sleep, just alongside
so we would not have to talk
with words or hands, or hot
finger pillows or edges
of lips, I dream in a closed space


The Joy of Daydreams
(svajonių džiaugsmas)

half the sky is covered with snow clouds, the other drips with rainbows
water returns to wells after the droughts
snow-dusted cows bellow in the fields
and the longest line on the far horizon breaks banging against the blue forest

your blossoming skin, the green linden’s white wood bursts into flame
under throbbing fingers, on the border
sparrows fight with the souls of hop blossoms
wind shuffles outside the door, plucks at mosses, grasps at wet timbers

and I don’t know if I should cry or laugh, because I don’t understand premature snow
nor why it melts so traitorously
when I holding on to immutable time, so I would not drive to tears
what I drank in with milk, what I believe, the petal from your once-upon-a-time letter

walks there and back, unclear, unequal to what was given, how
what was created there, when the stove hisses
and goes out and last year’s cranes or geese
scurry in flocks toward the rainbows, do not consider flying away, on Aisetas

the thin ice-coat crackles, only a half day like this or half a life remaining