Classic Lithuanian Literature Anthology

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Silvestras Valiūnas

BIRUTĖ
Birutė's Song

Birute's Song

    The best known S. Valiūnas' work is "Birutė's Song" (Thoughts of Old Samogitian on the Mount Birutė). An authentic text of this work was not preserved. In the year 1824 a copy of the song was made by D. Poška for his collection of manuscripts and transcripts "A Little Bee in Baublys".
    Another version of this song ("Birutė") that significantly differs from D. Poška's transcript was published by L. Jucevičius in 1942. Only this version became popular with the people because D. Poška's text is more literary with its means of artistic expression, and the later recorded ones are more popular and closer to the folk songs.
    "Birutė's Song" belongs to the category of historical songs. It is one of the first works of historical content in Lithuanian literature. In it the author recreated a legend about Kęstutis and Birutė.
    "Birutė's Song" affectionately depicts the past of Lithuania not christened yet. In this past author does not take notice of feudal exploitation or social injustice. He praises the independence of Lithuanian state, unification of Lithuanian tribes into one country.
    By glorifying the past S. Valiūnas disapproves of nobility of his days for conceit and detachment from ordinary people.
    Birutė portrayed by S. Valiūnas is the first image of woman of ordinary descent in Lithuanian literature.
    "Birutė's Song" is a work of high artistic value. The means of composition, narration, depiction and artistic expression are natural and simple. Poetics of the song is not literary but some of its means are adjacent to the artistic expression of folk poetical creations.