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Note: This book was printed with at least two different dust jackets: link to a copy of the other cover: book cover 1. Link to a picture and brief biographical sketch of the author, Vera Rich (1971).



[ Book Cover: Like Water, Like Fire (1971)  ]

Book Cover: (1971)

Like Water, Like Fire


Book title from Janka Kupala's poem, "In the night pasture". See excerpt:

Once in days past, Lavon
Lived on earth, young and strong,
But freedom and fortune came never:
Heart and soul slept; he drowsed
In a tumble-down house,
When he walked, tears would strew his path ever. . . .

Straightaway rose Lavon,
Filled with forces unknown,
New-created, like water, like fire. . .



Brief summary of the book (from the dust jacket):

Like Water, Like Fire presents the best of modern Byelorussian poetry, tracing its development from the underground renaissance in the early part of the nineteenth century, through the sudden flowering of the Nasha Niva Period (1906 - 14), the years of revolution and the establishment of Soviet rule in Byelorussia, up to and including the post-"thaw" writers of today.

Here we have the only surviving fragment by the persecuted serf-poet Bahrym, the political satire of Bahushevich, "father of Byelorussian poetry," the prophetic fire of Kupala, the lyricism of Bahdanovich, whose whole create lifetime, overshadowed by tuberculosis, was to last less than ten years. And here too the moderns, upon whom literary history has yet to pass a final verdict, but who from a contemporary standpoint appear to be bringing to birth a new and more vigorous life for their country and literature, which so far has remained one of the least known in the whole poetic map of Europe.

With the present anthology--the first in the English language--Vera Rich, who is already well known as a translator of Ukrainian poetry, turns to the virgin field of Byelorussian poetry in translation. She believes that it is the duty of the translator to reproduce not only the subject matter but also the poetic form of the original. In her preface she writes: "a poet myself, I would feel a betrayal of my task in producing any version that did not reproduce the poetic form of the original. If a poet expresses his thoughts in a poem, the form, as much as the content, gives shape and meaning to those thoughts. . . . Yet, throughout, I have aimed at a translation that is line-for-line with the original, adding as little as may be, losing as little as possible."

In the present anthology it has been Miss Rich's aim to make the water and fire of Byelorussian poetry--the limpid waters of lyricism, the patriotic fire of an emerging nation--flow and burn again in their original rhythms and patterns.


"An outstanding piece of work which will serve many English readers as an introduction to an unjustly neglected corner of European literature."

The Slavonic Review

"An outstanding achievement. . . will be welcomed by many as an introduction to a 'new' and worthwhile literature now at last beginning to emerge from an unmerited obscurity."

Journal of European Studies




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