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Rīga, Atēna, 2005

Sun Stroke in the Dark, Māra Zālīte’s first book published in English, offers a selection from her five published poetry collections. Zālīte’s inspiration arises from the sun – both metaphorically and physically – all the more ironic since she herself was born in darkest Siberia, the child of parents deported during the Soviet occupation.

Once you have explored the world Māra Zālīte creates – a world of earth and sun and myth, primitive, primordial even, at the same time alive and vibrant with the positive force of awakening and change – you will understand why she has earned a special place in contemporary Latvian literature.

Māra Zālīte has been a voice of truth and inspiration, heralding the value of personal expression and creativity regardless of circumstance, from the day her poetry first surfaced on the Latvian consciousness in the seventies. During te next three decades, Zālīte expanded her craft to include plays and librettos for rock operas. Whatever the gendre, eternal and contemporary realities are read against each other in Zālīte’s work, and are powerfully represented in the poems of this volume.

* * *

So few warm sunbeams,
So many humid nights –
this is my homeland.

So little peace, so much turmoil,
here the sun knits a nettle shirt –
this is my homeland.

So much love burns out in the breast.
There is no path. Only the longing –
this is my homeland.

A bird crying on a steep sand dune.
All of life – a bright funreal.
This is my homeland.

ALL

When on a dark night on green grass
the moon like a colt runs to pasture,
look into the moist eyes of the lake
because they’re mine.
Love me.

Like a gold braid laid across earth’s breast
the wheat field streches out on the hill, redolent.
Kiss the sunburned shoulder of summer
because it’s mine.
Love me.

When rain falls into the lap of the earth
counting its silver sounds,
I reveal all that I’ve hidden –
all that’s mine.
Love me.

ASTRONOMY –
A LESSON ABOUT STARS

It’s a good lesson for me
not to scramble after stars,
not to be overwhelmed by the vastness of heaven
but
to learn more of loving
more of blood, flesh and clay.

A star is simply and only
far.

THE SPRING AND THE JUG

I’m a jug forgotten at the spring.
Under me grass withers,
grows pale. Like ideals,
pale like ideals.

By the spring, turned on my mouth
overgrown with grass,
grass in my throat. The cakes,
I do thank you, for the cakes.

I have no connection
with the spring, the golden mist
it releases into the world each night.
A long time now, no connection.

Translated by Margita Gailitis.

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