Mezhelaitis, Eduardas Ben’iaminovich
(also Eduardas Miezelaitis). Born Oct. 3, 1919, in Kareiviskiai, present-day Pakruoji Raion, Lithuanian SSR. Lithuanian Soviet poet. Member of the CPSU since 1943. Son of an industrial worker.
In 1939-40, Mezhelaitis studied at the departments of law of the Universities of Kaunas and Vilnius. In 1943, during the Great Patriotic War, he was a war correspondent with the 16th Lithuanian Division.
Mezhelaitis was first published in 1935. His first collections of poems (Lyrics, 1943; Wind From the Homeland, 1946; and My Nightingale, 1952) revealed him as a poet of obvious lyrical talent. His work was nourished by the wellsprings of folklore, and his lyrical hero felt an unbreakable bond with his people and his native landscape.
Mezhelaitis’ early lyric poetry is close in spirit and style to the poetic tradition of S. Neris and S. Esenin. An important milestone in his writing was the epic narrative Fraternal Poem (1955), on the theme of socialist friendship among peoples. In 1957 he published the book of verse Other People’s Stones, consisting of the meditations of the Soviet communist poet about the capitalist world. The appearance of the collection of poems Man (1961; Lenin Prize, 1962) was an event both in the artistic career of Mezhelaitis and in Soviet poetry as a whole. Man is a joyous hymn to the Communist Man and his earth, while at the same time the author is troubled by the fate and future of all humanity. Profound intellectualism, a philosophic quality, and publicistic zeal are the basic features of the collections Sun in Amber (1961), Self-portrait: Airborne Sketches (1962), Southern Panorama (1963), and Cardiogram (1963).
During the 1960’s and 1970’s, Mezhelaitis published books of poetical polemicism, expressing his thoughts about Lithuanian and world art; among them are Lyrical Etudes (1964), Bread and the Word (1965), Moths (1966), Here Is Lithuania (1968), Horizons (1970), Antakalnis’ Baroque (1971), and The Amber Bird (1972). His collections of poetry for children include Who Should I Be (1947), What the Apple Tree Said (1951), and Teacher (1953). He has also translated works of A. S. Pushkin, M. Iu. Lermontov, and T. G. Shevchenko into Lithuanian. His own works have been translated into many languages. From 1959 to 1970 he was chairman of the board of the Union of Writers of the Lithuanian SSR, and he has been secretary of the board since 1959. He became a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania in 1960 and was a deputy to the sixth and seventh convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He was awarded the Nehru Prize (1969), as well as the Order of Lenin, three other orders, and medals.
WORKSPoezija, vols. 1-2. Vilnius, 1968.
In Russian translation:
Kryl’ia. Vilnius, 1953.
Vesennie gosti. Moscow, 1959.
Aleliumai Moscow, 1970.
Kontrapunkt. Moscow, 1972.
REFERENCESTikhonov, N. “Zametki o novom sbornike stikhov Ed. Mezhelaitisa.” Kommunist (Vilnius), 1961, no. 9.
Ognev, V. Kniga pro stikhi. Moscow, 1963.
Lankutis, J. “Chelovek” E. Mezhelaitisa. Moscow, 1965.
Makarov, A. Eduardas Mezhelaitis. Moscow, 1966.
Narovchatov, S. Poeziia v dvizhenii. Moscow, 1966.
Urban, A. “Avtodokumental’naia proza.” Zvezda, 1970, no. 10.
Lankutis, J. Miećelaičio poezija. Vilnius, 1965.