Vacys Reimeris: An Indian Melody

You, full of sun I do admire, lulling to sleep as a kind mother, murmuring like a fresh, cool brook, - but I am embarrassed involuntarily on hearing your sad echo...


From the shores of Baltic sea I wanted to fly to you with a wind just in my mind, India...

Aš nuo Baltijos troškau pavėjui nors mintim lig tavęs nusiirti...

Agra 1956

An Indian Melody


Translated by



Why Reimeris

........Interest generates interest. This is what we learn from life. It is somewhat a matter of strange coincidence how I got fascinated by Vatsis Reimeris's poems.
........The poet visited India twice and has come to lowe some things in this ancient land. Lithuanian friend of India to me and none was happier than I. I found that not only ancient but medieval and modern India moves him deeply. His poems, "Sanskrit", "Taj Mahal At Night" and "Bhilai", will bear out the truth of this remark.

........Indian Language, melody, birds, rivers, India's new hero-cities like Bhilai, and Indian boy ( a shoe-black ) the marvel of Indian architecture Taj, India's capital Delhi, Indian tree ( sandalwood ), Indian weavers, Indian dancers ( Banaras roadside stroller ), Indian poverty - all this and more goes to make his poems. He who loves so many different aspects of our country is our singing brother-though he may live in another land or speak another language. Lithuania is far away, but Reimeris with his vibrant verse has linked it with India. Our joys, sorrows, hopes form the fabric of his verse.

.......Mallarme a French poet once said: "The poem is a mystery to which the reader must hunt the key". But following lines of Reimeris hold no mystery for us.

" It sounded, as if, in the innermost key

Where the footprint was of the English boot,

There your melody was a torment and unrest".

.......Read again a little further in the same poem, "An Indian Melody".

"I bow down to the ground with a sensitive ear".

.......What is the poet attempting to hear from mother earth ? "Find out the key", Mallarme would say.

.......As I read from "Bhilai": -

"Swamps of slavery are dried up

But large enough dirt remains."

.......I recollected and reconsidered what Doyle said : "Poetry is our dissatisfaction with what is present and close at hand".

.......For a change read : -

"By the white Taj, it is no shame to weep.

Legends live here and their voice rings"

.......This is poetry turning into incantation as Coleridge would have remarked. Here the reader is lifted into a world quite different from that of prose and every day life.

.......How does Reimeris portray Taj ?

"And here you are bewitched by tales..

As if a white dandelion lifting up itself

Cautiously you look at the marble palace

Not a mirage ?"


"Did beloved Mumtaz die yesterday ?

Or does love live perpetually in art..?"

.......Or of Delhi he sings :

"This is distant Delhi.

Like an embroidered gold veil

Sown with fire..the gloomy earth".

.......Or of "Sunny Fabrics":

"May be therefore, the weaver's children

Wore the lustre of their eyes in silk.."

........Here is a singular, splendid amalgam of substance and form, imagination and passion, beauty and truth.

........A reader normally would react and respond adequately if he himself is capable of being surcharged with emotion and imagination. In the case of Reimeris's poems it is correct to remember what George Chapman said in another context. "Poetry is the flower of the Sun and disdains to open to the eye of a needle".

.......But I have said enough why I turned to Reimeris. Though I have endeavoured to give reasons for my choice, I would gladly conclude saying : We cite reasons when we admire someone, but when we love someone we have no reasons.

.......Indeed I have none.

.........G. K. G. JOSHI



Sandalo dūmas

..............................Visada jaučiu sandalo dūmo kvapą...


Tyliai smilksta sandalo šakelė,

byra peleno sluoksna puri.

Vėlei tolimą mėlyną kelią

raito dūmas tyliam kambary.


Ir nors poškina speigas už lango,

nors beržai - apšerkšniję, nuogi, -

dega tropikų saulė virš Gango,

ir tu pats atminimais degi.


Oi toli juosvos, draugiškos rankos,

dovanojusios Dely kadais

šitą kvepiantį dūmą, kurs rangos

prieš akis indų žemės vaizdais,

kurs tau šnara Bengalijos palmėm,

dvelkia karštu Madraso šokiu,

kurs tau kužda slapčiom apie gelmę

Šakuntalos juodųjų akių.


Ugnele iš patamsio sužiuręs,

jis dar kalba tykus mėlynai

apie ugnį prie gintaro jūros,

vaidilučių kūrentą seniai.


Sako, ji Lietuvon, kaip ir šioji,

atkeliavo nuo Indo krantų.

Kas patikrins ?

Senovė garsioji

šiandien tyli. O aš terandu

tik legendų išdilusias pėdas

sutrūnijusių knygų smėly...

Gal rytojaus mokslingas poetas

tars, ką paslėpė amžiai žili.


O šiandieną - tu posmais jausmingais

naują žemę dainuoti turi.

Tolumon kelio mėlyno vingiais

gula dūmas tyliam kambary,

ir iš knygų byloja sanskritas :

mes - seni, mes - jauni, artimi.

Kaip sandalo ugnis dega rytas

mūs draugystės naujos viltimi.


Sandalwood Smoke

..............................I always feel the smoke of sandalwood...


Slowly smoulders the sandalwood,

The grey ashes fall,

And the dear air is tried ;

Rings of smoke curl in the room :

Let the frost adorn the small window,

And all other branches of the birch..

Again over Ganga, you saw

The Indian sun through cloudy dreams.

Indeed, to you in distant Delhi,

Swarthy sunburnt hands, offered to friends

This sweet, aromatic smoke,

From the wonderful Indian land.

The Bengal palms rustle about it,

Madras weaves flaming dances

Of the sad and agitated Shakuntala.

( In ) the star's dark fathomless eye,

Light flashed in the deserted space

Of our ancient rough earth..

That fire of amber sea,

"Vaidilutes", Lithuania dispelled..

They say that fire is holy,

And was brought to us from India,

Who verifies ?

In hidden obscurity,

Past life disappeared like a dream.

But the footprint of ancient legends is preserved..

Rotting dust is the only book ;

Let the learned in long lectures

Explain to us what is veiled in centuries.

But the poet must in joyful hymns

Sing of living, young life.

Let in the winter twilight,

Curl rings of smoke in the room..

Indeed, sage Sanskrit announces to us :

That we are old and young ;

A small fire of sandalwood.. like the morning Sun's

Friendship to us.. dawns out of darkness.


Translated by G. K. G. JOSHI












Delio gatvės kepykloj

papločiai kvepėjo.

Jų paviršiuje gelto skystimas saldus.

- Kaip tas skystis vadinasi ? -

klausiu kepėją ;

jis, lyg dzūkas nuo Merkio,

atsako :

- Medus.


Pakartojo :

- Medus...

Ir paduoda paplotį.

Šypso perlais baltais indo veidas tamsus.

Aš norėjau

lietuviškai jam padėkoti

ir iš džiaugsmo nupirkt

jo papločius





From braziers in the streets of Delhi

Pancakes smelt in heat.

Of something yellow and sweet, as mush.

I asked the Indian :

"What is this ?"

And he like a Lithuanian,

Answered :


Again he told me :


Regaling, ( myself ) with the honeyed pancakes,

Sparkling, smiling, like a bead of pearl ;

I wished to reply

To this word - in Lithuanian

And buy all the pancakes,

They were so sweet

In taste.


The reader would be interested to know the word for 'Honey' in the following languages :

Anglo-Saxon : Medu ; Welsh : Medd ; English : Honey, Mead ; Russian : Myod ; Lithuanian : Medus ; Sanskrit : Madhu.

Translated by G. K. G. JOSHI




Taj Mahal was built by a Muslim, Emperor Shah Jahan (died 1666 C.E.) in the memory of his dear wife and queen Mumtaz Mahal at Agra, India.


Taj Mahal At Night


The pale moon-shine like streams

Spills over the turrets and roofs ;

The full moon over the sleeping Agra is foggy.

It is midnight, but sleeplessness wearies me :

The moonlight sparkles like silver streams,

The earth whispers to me an Indian suggestion,

And draws me on the bright path,

Quickening the even throbbing of heart

To come near the dusky gates of Taj.

The earth whispers to me an Indian suggestion ;

Step of mortar ; - and here you are bewitched by tales

As if a white dandelion lifting up itself...

Cautiously you look at the marble palace -

Not a mirage ? Suddenly all vanished as a dream...

Step of mortar ; - and here you are bewitched by tales

Here at night could be heard, Shah Jahan sobbing :

Did beloved Mumtaz die yesterday ?

Or does love live perpetually in art ?

As life-like cataract, in a true ancient tale ?

Here at night could be heard Shah Jahan sobbing ;

Indeed, love now and then, excels life in might ;

Before it, bend your head submissively ;

Here light-winged love in the white tower,

Trembles alive for centuries in marble.

Indeed, love now and then excels life in might ;

Oh heart, What do you hear here in the radiance

of moon ?

And about what is it ringing in the quiet night ?

The morning opens the golden palace...

And yes,

And yes, love must be so, for ever ;

Oh heart, What do you hear here, in the radiance

of moon ?


Translated by G. K. G. JOSHI




An Indian Boy


By the white Taj it is no shame to weep.

Legends live here and their voice rings.

Going to "Fords"...

And suddenly like young eagles impetuously

Uncomely boys of fifteen years

Fly near to feet...

Pressing with hands, rags of cloth

To clean the pair of sahib's shoes,

So that they shine in the dazzling sun ;

But now sahibs are different in the world

And this one here said :

"Just take care of the coins ;

Rise from the ground...

Restrain your zeal...

Go round without polishing my shoes."

Lifting eyes so shy and odd...

They, not looking askance...

Let on my hands...

Let us touch the air...

Just allow to wipe off

Streams of sweat running

Down the dusty cheek...

But why does a tear shine on the eyelash ?

It's not necessary ! Get up, arise,

And fly like a young eagle...

By the white Taj it is no shame to weep ;

Legends live here and their voice rings.


Translated by G. K. G. JOSHI






Pakistan, as if night, dark, centennial, severe

We leave it. We fly to the East.

We rush there earlier to see

Mother India in morning garments :

See, there she is visible under grey fog,

And smells sweet as sandalwood smoke.

My dear Indian land ; the stewardess

Pointed through window : "This is distant Delhi."

Like an embroidered gold veil

Sown with fire..the gloomy earth..

It seemed to us that is not a kind of a city..

But surf of ocean gleaming, foaming

Perhaps to flash on the earth brightly ;

There's the Milky Way, strewed with stars.

We don't believe our eyes ; neighbour is acknowledged

That fiery anthill..the city's light.

"Good Morning, Grey Delhi ! on this new day.

That's why you're scattered wide....fiery..

The seven ancient cities lost in ages

Raise their flaming call above you,

This new age unveiled the curtain..

But politely say good-bye to the stewardess

We wished to remain with her a few moments yet.

But she smiled to us : "Thank you - Delhi."

And wonderful Delhi, with a friendly smile

Wound wreathes of rose around our necks,

We put a scarlet flower in buttonhole..

Your first gift to Lithuanian heart, Delhi.


Translated by G. K. G. JOSHI




A Complaint


Under a thick ( grown ) bunyan tree

In grey-old Benares,

Paying two brass annas

Midst a crowd I saw ;

How a dancer in such a sultry heat

Twirling around, untired.

On a tabor he played

And amused the idlers ;

His raw-boned fingers trembled,

As though so deaf,

Rattled to time,

Drying the chest

The stroller.


Translated by G. K. G. JOCHI




An Indian Melody


I heard you from afar,

Lulled by Lithuanian songs,

Sobbing at the forest cuckoo's songs

Though the tunes of my country's songs

Were the most marvellous tunes to me,

I heard from afar.

You, full of sun I do admire,

Lulling to sleep as a kind mother,

Murmuring like a fresh, cool brook ;

But I am embarrassed involuntarily

On hearing your sad echo,

Though I admire you full of sun,

But now I understood you ;

To me Ganga sounded not far-off,

"Ah !", your sad sigh

Of lamentation - I was shocked.

But only now I understood you.

I fell down with sensitive ear to the ground ;

It sounded, as if, in the innermost key,

Where the footprint was of the English boot,

There your melody was a torment and unrest

Of sacred rivers abounding in water ;

I bow down to the ground with a sensitive ear.


Translated by G. K. G. JOSHI



For poems about India Vacys Reimeris was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Prize in 1968.