Classic Lithuanian Literature Anthology

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Paulius Širvys

(1922 - 1979)


    Paulius Širvys is a most talented poet of the post-war period who transformed his experience of orphan and soldier into the naturally melodic form of verse; he renewed the traditional metaphors of nature and kept to the principle of lyrical self-expression.
    P.Širvys was born on November 17, 1922 in the village of Padustėlis of Zarasai district. In 1940 he graduated from the two-year Salai agriculture school and had entered the school of control assistants at Gruzdžiai. In 1940-1941 he studied at the Bolshevik military school at Vilnius. The war overtook him at the firing ground of Švenčionėliai. Near Vitebsk P.Širvys was caught by the Germans as a prisoner of war. After the escape from the camp of prisoners of war near Minsk in 1942, the Germans caught him again and sent to compulsory works in Germany. In 1944 P.Širvys escaped again, crossed the front line in Lithuania and returned to the Soviet Army. He participated in actions in Northern Lithuania and in Kurland, and was wounded there. In 1945 he was demobilized from the army, and was editor of regional newspapers (in Rokiškis, Pandėlys, Merkinė, Rudiškės). His works were first published in periodicals in 1948. In 1954-1955 he worked at the editorial board of "Literatūra ir menas" (Literature and Arts) newspaper, in 1958-1962 - in magazines "Moksleivis" (The Schoolboy) and "Genys" (The Woodpecker). In 1957 he graduated from the High Courses of Literature in the institute named after Gorky in Moscow. In 1967-1969 he was a helmsman in the long-range fishermen's fleet based in Klaipėda. For the collection of his lifetime poetry P.Širvys was awarded the Republican literary award in 1972.
    P.Širvys died on March 24 in 1979.