Classic Lithuanian Literature Anthology

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Jonas Aistis


J.Aistis Poetry

    The lyrics of Jonas Aistis belongs to the classical tradition, it seeks to harmonize the relations between a person and the world. It is modern, since the poet skillfully uses both complex external forms and inner effects of the language. The lyrics of J.Aistis reveals Lithuania, its spirit. The sadness of lyrics, emerging from the depths of viewpoint of Lithuanian nation is counterbalanced by a calm joy and shiny serenity.
    The apex of his creation J.Aistis reached in independent Lithuania. His works can be divided into two periods: the verses written in Lithuania, and in emigration, Here are represented verses from both periods.
    The first book of J. Aistis's poetry, The Verses, appeared in 1932. With this debute book of a young poet Lithuanian poetry rose on a new level , by the culture of emotions and feelings "catching up" with Europe and liberating from provinciality and stereotyped patriotism. The selection reflects all the themes characteristic to the poetry of the second decade of independence - from confidential autoanalysis and personal identification with the fate of liberated after ages of oppression Lithuania, up to full of bitterness and spite criticism of realities of the new statehood, including political satire.
    With the second book Imago Mortis (1933) J.Aistis reached the zenith of his creation. Here he proved himself to be a fully mature virtuoso of the poetical instrument. The collection is so integral and seamless that reminds the phrase of music, where themes and variations blend into a perfectly harmonious entirety. There is not one weak verse in the book. The centre of all things in this book is a man in the widest and at the same time in the simplest meaning of the word.
    With the third book, The Intimate Songs (1935), J.Aistis gained popularity, unseen before in Lithuanian everyday literary practice. He broke all possible barriers (even ideological) and won a complete recognition. For his book The Extinguished Eyes of Chimera that appeared in 1937 J.Aistis was granted a State literary award. It was a kind of an official confirmation of his complete recognition.
    To the second period of J.Aistis works belong his books published in America: Without Motherland Dear (1942), The Longing of Nemunas (1947), Sister Everyday (1951), In the Crystal Coffin (1957). The poet turns back to the old, time tested sources of poetry, to the safe shelter of perfect form illusions.