Classic Lithuanian Literature Anthology

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Antanas Strazdas

(1763 - 1833)

Antanas Strazdas

    Antanas Strazdas was a poet and a priest. People had remembered him by a diminutive name of Strazdelis (Little Blackbird). The real biographical facts of A.Strazdas were scarce and he became a legendary person.
    A. Strazdas was born in 1763 in a village of Astravas or Kriūgiškis, in Zarasai district, in a family of a serf. He had studied in Krėslava clerical seminary and moved to Varniai from there. He had been initiated into priesthood in Varniai.
    From 1790 he was a priest in different parishes of Eastern Highlands. A.Strazdas was not always following strict canons of priests' estate and the authorities of the Catholic church did not like him and persecuted. In 1818 the Synod of Lithuanian Evangelists Reformats had complained about his poem "A Funeral of Palšis" (Palšis is a name of a horse). The poet had to plead. In 1819 he had written an explanation which is the only authentic document in which he talked about his calling and the role of literature in life with inspiration.
    In 1828 A.Strazdas went to a Pažaislis convent. In 1829 he left it without permission and returned to Kamajai (Rokiškis district). He was allowed to serve as a priest in 1830. In 1833 A.Strazdas died after a long illness.
    During lifetime of A. Strazdas only one collection of his poems was published ("The Songs, Worldly and Saint"). Nine poems were printed in it. The second collection that was prepared by A.Strazdas was not published because of the obstacles created by censorship. The songs by A.Strazdas though unpublished had not perished because they became popular with people.