If a man wants to have a perfect mistress, he can marry a Russian. If he longs for wise children, he can choose a Jewess. And if he wants to have his grave tidy even long time after his death, he should marry a Lithuanian. There is really something to it, since the poetry of Lithuanians, even though no line of it would exist, lies in their roots and life style. The proof are the reactions of ordinary people to the oldest and most prestigious poetic festival in Lithuania 47th year of which was organized by The Association of Lithuanian Writers and by The Writers Club. Program of the international festival Poezijos Pavasaris was from May 15th to May 30th so rich that not only Lithuania lived with poetry. Poets were reciting in gardens, parks, museums, cafés, libraries, bookshops, schools and universities. Many related events, focused on journals, young poets or production of famous poets, were organized in Russia, Poland or Ireland; there were some workshops, conferences, poetic theaters, concerts.
In Slovak conditions, it seems almost incredible how the most important Lithuanian representatives are loaded in favour of poetry. Probably also because of the fact, that many of them are poets themselves. Vilnius Mayor Artūras Zuokas solemnly welcomed the festival’s participants in the town hall. Some guests visited so called natural museum of Europe’s centre – European park of culture where they presented own production or the village Balkūnai (Alytus district) where a memorial room consecrated to traditionalist painter Antanas Žmuidzinavičius is situated. Here, in the ancient barn, villagers together with the mayor presented their folkloric program and they listened to the guests’ recitations. Hospitality and cordiality were endless.
The situation was not different in Šilavotas where a voluntary group of religious women separated from church lived in seclusion some time ago. They helped people from the surrounding villages only for the potential supplies and they aroused such confidence that when they sheltered the natives who were in danger of going to the exile to Siberia, no suspicion fell on them. After performance, the poets received from the locals a present in the form of cheese and honey. Juozas Alexandravičius, who is the vice mayor of the spa town Birštonas more than ten years, also enjoyed the poets. He said he owes this success to people whom he loves. When reciting in the company of music near the bust of the significant writer Balys Sruoga, even the random passers-by stopped and listened. As if they showed to consumers of these fast-moving times: you have a watch, and we have time. The vice mayor took the guests through so called path of wooden angels to the house of wood-carver Rimantė Butkuvė in Puzonys. She is interested in the naïve art and the vice mayor sang with guests while serving the traditional foods.
Publishing house Vaga published the anthology Poezijos Pavasaris 2011, in which Slovak poets Marián Milčák and Radovan Brenkus are included. Brenkus contributed to the conference of poets and literary critics by the essay Generation recognitive features of poetry.
Generation recognitive features of poetry
Is there at least one feature of poetry on the basis of which it would be possible to unambiguously determine whether a poem comes from the author of younger or older generation? At first glance it might seem that it could be the value orientation, but many authors in world poetry are disproving a possibility of such presumption. Traditional values include family, home (with country’s picturesqueness) or Christian values. In the contemporary Slovak poetry, we can talk about traditionalism of Rúfus. On the other hand, one of the symptoms of art, and also of poetry, is a disturbance of status quo – revolt that usually belongs to the younger generation. Pseudocritics have always connected it to the absolute denial of values; however we can mention the old Spinoza’s statement according to which to deny something doesn’t mean to reject it or authors who, in spite of the perversity, decadence or dark optics, are able to impress conversely – in a cathartic way, because the psychical effect of a literary text greatly depends on the reader’s perception. Typical example of contradiction among content and effect is Trakl’s poetry preferring at least humanity, and this by indirect deprecation of war as one of the most absurd social phenomena. In connection with tradition and revolt, it is necessary to state that neither contradiction between them enables to determine whether the poetry we are reading was created by the pen of younger or older poet. The youngest generation of Slovak poetry includes the authors who, in a new robe, are not stepping over the traditionalism of Rúfus, and many poets from middle or older generation are not resisting the revolt. Age or generation difference has in this sense as negligible influence on the character of poetry as has the sex difference.
If we understand generation in the context of the world poetry, considering apart from the individual generation, as an evolutionary stage of poets with qualitatively higher level, then it is meaningful to talk about generation differences of poetry. We can perceive them as the differences between epochs, individual phases of the world poetry development. Apparently, nobody will deny the development of literary art, as well as its characteristics distinguishing for example the renaissance and baroque poetry, although it doesn’t have the nature of causal nexus of the development of scientific theories that we are able to predict with certainty. Since the newly developed creative deed did not exist before like its precursor, art development presents such a negation of existing production that its preservation does not act as a limitary case of a newly created deed. The basic quality of this process is the irreducibility of its results to the previous ones under any conditions. By the respect of previous production, literature protects itself against the preservation of plagiarisms, therefore, under the wheel of history, it mills the authors writing what has been already written, and irreducibility of its results enables the creation of an original work which, in the given period, becomes an ideal for other works.
With regard to the fact, that even the most exceptional author is a product of social relations of a given period and it is not possible to completely separate a work from the author, development of literature reflects not only the transformation of epochs, but also the character of a period and its people, their life feeling and style. Evolutionary-social extent of literature can’t be excluded even from the poetry, it is projected just to its generation differences. From this point of view, recognitive features between for instance Štúr generation and generation of the 20th century poets are notorious in Slovak poetry. Their dissimilarity also lies in the formal use of poetic language; however Baudelaire can be in the world poetry really regarded as the father of modern poetry. Development of the literary art exclusively at the level of its forms does not exist; inevitable part of this development is a work’s content reflecting the epoch. Prejudice, according to which the themes remain, because it is only the way of their presentation which is changing, belongs to the common sense of postmodernism.
Although no author can be so universal that he would step over himself and therefore over own epoch, it doesn’t mean that new era has to delete him from the list. Poetry fulfills many functions, one of them is to affect emotionally. Thanks to it, poetry becomes timeless. Timelessness as one of the art’s attributes doesn’t mean anything else than the time overlap of the art into all epochs during which the relevant feeling figures are repeated in the man’s history. So it is not about timelessness in the sense of classical eternity or unknown and tautological eternal cycle out of us, because as we know, universally valid values and absolute truths do not exist. It’s about that justified, full-value and long-lasting feeling when in the case of music we give a sigh of its heavenliness and eternity, feeling that is a driving force of whole art. Timelessness of poetry enables it to be understood by our descendants, though with a different perception.
Let’s turn away for a while from global generations, from generation differences of their poetry. We already know that in the case of individual generations, there are no symptoms of poetry according to which it would be possible to distinguish one age generation of authors from another. The original question can be in this way replaced by a more meaningful one: why don’t such features exist? Although we are not familiar with exact definition of poetry, the answer can be found in its attributes, mainly timelessness. Since the poetry doesn’t know the time period of epochs, it can’t distinguish the age of authors. Really, from the poetic texts of Rimbaud and Baudelaire themselves, it is not possible to estimate who of them made his debut as younger and who as older, although it is known historically. Similarly in the classical music, it is not possible to determine whether a piece in the same epoch was composed by younger or older master. This fact also indicates that fiction, including the poetry, does not differ in anything from other kinds of art, difference only lies in the means used for emotional and intellectual depiction of reality.