His research focuses on the novel, the theory of the heroic epic, and the aesthetics of Romanticism. The second most important work in the chronology of Lithuanian literature, it is traditionally considered the first Romantic poem in that literature. This characterization dates from the fourth decade of the twentieth century, but was not completely accepted until the Soviet era. Yet there was such a time; it was only in the third decade of the twentieth century that Baranauskas was classified as a Romantic.

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Still, critics continue to identify a strong bias in the poem rooted in a romantic tradition. If the poem continues to be identified as romantic it is only because historical forces have ended to center meaning that way. What I would like to point out is that a dialogical view of the poem, one which identifies oppositional and competing discourses, suggests that a single meaning, say, "romantic" or "pastoral", cannot be ascribed to the poem.

Moreover, a dialogical view of the poem can illuminate additional complexities and begin to place it as one of the important works of the emerging modern period. We can see like and strong "presences" of Nature in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century English poetry, for example, in Wordsworth's "Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey.

Not only are Nature's "presences" felt in sensory ways by the poet, but it is assumed that even the removal of the flesh and blood poet from the rejuvenating environs of Nature are compensated for by the "presence" of Nature in the mind and memory of the poet; for example, in Wordsworth's Prelude, the young poet recreates Nature from within his dismal dormitory room in the city.

He cites "numerous instances of poetic transformations" of "this beautiful landscape pastoral" 45 , and suggests that the poem is an imaginative escape for the young poet form the "pent up atmosphere of the seminary" So the "presence" of Nature in Baranauskas's poem is obvious, but this "presence" is centered by a long tradition in literature that characterizes Nature as pastoral and possessing restorative capabilities to the mind and soul of the poet.

Yet what also makes Baranauskas's poem truly remarkable are the oppositional discourses of "presence" and "absence" -"absence" being a context that is not traditionally valued or interpreted. In fact, the poet announces this oppositional discourse in the very first lines of the poem:.

If one privileges the "presence" Nature in romantic verse, then the "once fair" nature of this pastoral place can be believed; yet Baranauskas's poem creates a crucial doubt "Can anyone believe? This further suggests the poem is not a romantic poem. At the time the poem was composed Lithuanian society was rapidly changing.

The poem was first published just two years before the failed revolt of and during a period of vigorous Lithuanian nationalism. Still, these factors in the poem itself are "presence" themselves. And we know that what the poet laments in the poem are not things "present" but things "absent".

Though one might argue that one tenet of romantic poetry is the present longing for a lost absent past, this interpretation dues not account for the powerful and self-consciously indeterminate ending of the poem:. Unfinished is my lay. It is not surprising that the poet cannot finish his song.

The tensions between "presence" and "absence" in the poem are irresolvable. While the matter of oppositional discourses concerning nature in the poem may be little more than a curiosity in light of the sweeping political changes in Lithuania in recent years, I believe this reading of the poem opens an important area of investigation. A dialogical view of the poem can create a palpable "absence" of Lithuanian political identity and suggest the struggle for it throughout the nineteenth century.

For example, the following lines form the middle section of the poem link Lithuanian identity to the "absence" of sound:. For Lithuanians relish calm and ease We often weep in woods, not knowing why Such deep tranquility pervades the soul This is the source from which our tears and sighs, Our solace and our poetry arise.

Baranauskas's poem is groundbreaking because its obvious treatment of "absence" opposing "presence" also suggests an opposition to the political "presence" of the Czarist regime established in Contrast the preceding lines with these near the end of the poem, when the "forester" has come, destroyed the grove, and. The poem's oppositions are clear in these instances: the "absence" of sound, in contrast with the "presence" of sound, which becomes dangerous: the loss of one's ability to "weep" or lament itself due to a fist "rammed The oppositonal discourses of "presence" and "absence" and of "sound" and "silence" suggest that the poem is powerfully subversive.

Its appearance in and its lasting appeal during the Soviet occupation in this century point to its critical role in the preservation and revival of Lithuanian cultural and political identity spanning two centuries. Baranauskas, Antanas. Peter Tempest. Vilnius: Vaga, Wordsworth, William.

Selected Poems and Prefaces. Jack Stillinger. Boston: Houghton Mifflin,


The Forest of Anykščiai

He used various pseudonyms , including A. Baranauskas was born to a humble peasant family of Lithuanian nobility origin. After finishing his studies there, Baranauskas initially remained in the parish. As described in his diary, between the years and he learned the Polish language and between and Russian. There he started writing his first poems in Polish.


Antanas Baranauskas



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