Latviešu Trimdinieka Kalendars, 1947Latvian Exiles' Calendar

Poetry translations

Our presentation of the 1947 Exiles' Calendar is among our oldest content, having added the facsimile eighteen years ago, and the first of our poetry translations, January, February, March, eleven years ago. Our initial translation efforts stayed true to the rhyming scheme of the original Latvian verse. Therefore we must apologize that our later translations (2018) are more "free verse"—reflecting the reality that these many years later, expediency must now take priority over artistry.


January, page 9

CHORALE

Hardship. Every and each day.
Here. Each hour.
We pray—to find ourselves, we may,
Again in homeland our.
With sun-filled days
You blessed us.
With Latvia, too.
Once more return our land to us.
We beseech You!
— V. Mežezers.

February, page 13

I'LL COME HOME AGAIN

My road ahead is long, morn' still entwined in darkness' hue,
But I'll come home again. Out of the blue.
Rose blossoms long wilted. Frost laden, my flower bed.
But through my heart still will blood course, glowing. Red.
I'll come home again. Arrive. Out of the blue.
All in my life does Chaos now unglue,
All shredded, like some hail-smashed field.
So hard, to see where lurks the foe—or friend revealed.
Though the road ahead be long, morn' still entwined in darkness' hue,
I'll come home again. Truly, I will. Out of the blue.
— Ruta Skujiņa.

March, page 17

TOWARD SUN'S RISE

When my hands, still hard at work,
Slump to my lap, where lifts my gaze? —
Toward Sun's rise.* There, where
On my native land fall soft Her rays.
What are you listening for, you standing
Out there in the road? — The wind merely blows,
Whence the Sun rises. There my life
Began and yearns to close.
Where wander you, my fearful thoughts
While night passes, another night unslept? —
Toward Sun's rise. Where blooming flowers
Now blossom into blood, my dear land which God safekept.
— Mirdza Čuibe.
*From the D.P. camps in Germany, Latvia was towards the sunrise.

April, page 21
Pine forests yield pitch, tar, and turpentine in 1920's Latvia

LETTER TO A FRIEND

An unfamiliar acacia grove rustles
And unfamiliar waves break and swash upon the seashore —
My heart will never forget
Where the road weaves through white birches.
 
Already the sparrows twitter, soon the trees will be tapped*
To fill barrels in the barn
Will someone await me, home
Will someone come forth in the yard to meet me?
 
Will nothing but a pile of russet ruins
And a storm-toppled birch remain
To tell me, what became of my loved ones
When my frail hand swings open the gate?
— Anna Riekste.
*Tapping pine trees in spring was an annual ritual in agricultural Latvia. See the size of the barrel in the illustration, from Florence Farmborough's Latvia—Lettish Life in Legendary & Modern Times.

May, page 25

FAMILY DAY

At this moment I wish to put together my hands
To gaze up, where the heavens shine.
You, who fate us joy and anguish.
You also know what my heart feels.
 
whither is my homeland, whither my beloved home.
Whither my father and mother, whither my brother, friend?
Where upon the sandy dunes with their grassy cloak*
Will there—at this moment—also blossom some flower?
— Anna Riekste
*Latvia's Baltic Sea coast is characterized by extensive dunes.

June, page 29

ON GOLDEN SCALES

What a gentleness in the dusks of May,
As the bird-cherries shower white petals,
And sweet breezes sway its branches!
What a gentleness in the dusks of May,
When, as if on golden scales, Fortune
Weighs our soul with quiet hand!
What a gentleness in the dusks of May,
As the bird-cherries shower white petals!
— Kārlis Krūza.

July, page 33

WHEN COME YOU AGAIN

I accosted the dear Sun,
As she set at night:
When come you again
To warm us?
When will you come, ruddy-cheeked one?
"Another morn! Another morn!"
I accosted Spring-time,
As he departed with the swans:
When come you again
To weave flower-crowns?
When will you come — when?
"Another year! Another year!"
I accosted Youth,
Departing with the roses:
When come you again
To exchange vows?*
When will you come — how and where?
"On the hill! On the white sandy hill!"**
— Fricis Bārda.
*"Gredzenus mīt" refers to the donning of rings as at a wedding. We have taken liberties in its translation.
**Being buried upon a hill and sands lying lightly upon one's grave are common to Latvian imagery eternal sleep in the afterlife.

August, page 37

KISS

With but a single imprudent kiss
I wish to brush your lips,
As if into a beautiful fragrant lap,
To reel into dizzy oblivion.
 
After an interminable suffering of denial
It would be such a joy for lips to tingle,
To see you powerless to resist
And draw* your soul dry.
 
Just as a flower drinks moisture from the earth,
To draw from you the essence of life.
So my heart never again should know
The stinging pain of loneliness.
— Elīna Zālīte
*The verb "smelt" is a general word for any action such as ladling soup to drawing water from a well.

September, page 41

WOMAN WAITING

My longings conquer the distant places,
Your gentleness slumbers within me,
I wait.
 
With great luck, my heart quiets,
I must encounter you.
I wait.
 
You will come, my heart and blood tingling,
You will come, my life begins anew,
You will come!
— Karole Dāle.

October, page 45

EVENING IN A FOREIGN LAND

You sorrow, wizened father's homestead,
Where my footsteps no longer echo.
From your eventime gardens,
A gentle glow steals toward me.
 
May the star which shines upon us
Bring you my good-night;
When Jāņi* night sways over the land
I will be filled with its songs.
 
That feverishly intoxicating joy,
Which today has poured into my sufferings,
My soul — too mournful,
Nothing but loneliness proliferates.
 
Oh, if only I had a bird's wings,
Cleaving bright shafts of light,
You, my beloved, I would reclaim,
Where the verdant white-birch groves flourish.
— Biruta Senkeviča.
*Jāņi is the Latvian summer solstice holiday. Christian missionaries moved it several days to coincide with St. John's Day, hoping to ease the Latvians away from their pagan ways. While Jāņi is still often translated as the birthday of St. John the Baptist, it never strayed from its pagan origins.

November, page 49

IN MEMORIAM*

After the setting of life, quietly
Still in memories come by my side,
Though long ago, tired of life
You've gone to rest, mum.
Now you have a place by the hand of Christ
For that, which a mother's heart once suffered.
 
After work, now gone home
Father, good father, now slumbering
When the burdens of life lay at your feet
You had to rest.
But there, where the sun never sets —
You now have a place with our Heavenly Father.
— A. Vecmanis.
*"Mirušo piemiņas diena," Day of Remembrance, is a church celebration which takes place in late November, hence the significance of this poem for this month. Latvians have a strong tradition of remembering their departed, often visiting graves weekly—maintaining a strong connection to their loved ones in the afterlife. There are also several "Kapi svētki," cemetery holidays, throughout the year.

December, page 53

TUNNEL

A dark tunnel seems this life.
I know — there was light, where it began.
I know — there wil be light, where it ends.
Only for now one must travel through the heavy darkness.
There's no other light than that,
With which you, dear little one,
Toil to light my way,
Burning up, yourself, as we go.
Friend, give me our hand! Soon the path will be brighter —
And the eternal light will come forth to greet us.
— Fricis Bārda.

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