Classic Lithuanian Literature Anthology

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Kristijonas Donelaitis

The Seasons


    "The Seasons" by K.Donelaitis is an epic poem of the Lithuanians from Lithuania Minor. This epic poem, as usual for this genre, embraces the whole life of the nation. The nation is represented by peasants in the poem. They are depicted according to the cyclic understanding of time, history, and life. The relations of a human being (a peasant) with the nature and the God are disclosed, as well as the relations among the people, the peasants and the landlords. The author reveals the way of life of the peasants, their traditions, work and festivals. The life of peasants goes in circles as the nature does, and is determined by the same laws of the God. In nature, the summer comes after the spring and is followed by the autumn and at last winter, and everything starts from the beginning again. A human being is born, matures, gives fruit and dies as a plant. The peasants are reborn with the miracle of the spring, in summer they work hard, in autumn collect the harvest given by nature, in winter think of their destiny and prepare for the following spring ­ the new cycle of the year and peasant's work. The peasants are praised and scolded, encouraged and restricted according to the norms of Christian morality, their life and behaviour is evaluated according to the truths of the Holy Scripture. The main merits of human beings are laboriousness, piousness, truthfulness, faithfulness to traditions and customs of the nation; the greatest vices are laziness, irreverence, cruelty, acceptance of alien fashions and habits. K.Donelaitis by his work aspired to reinforce the moral values developed by the nation through ages, to uproot vices, to develop spiritual resistance of the nation.
    K.Donelaitis had written"The Seasons" in the seventh-eighth decade of the 18th century. It was published in 1818 for the first time and had laid the foundation for the secular Lithuanian literature.