When I think back to days gone by
I write these infinitely simple songs:
But you knew the songs weren’t simple,
For you’d seen all sides of it. Made it
Out of Berlin after it had been leveled
And overrun by the Russians. Made it
Across an ocean to Baltimore, where
You took a position in a factory that
Produced plastic flowers, trimming the
Fake petals ten hours a day. It was, you
Said, the most poetic job you’d ever had.
After Europe, the war, troubles here were
Simple, comical in comparison. A factory
With painted windows and a box of imitation
Lilies were a song you could bear.
Henrikas Radauskas (April 23, 1910 – August 27, 1970) was a Lithuanian poet who resettled in Germany during WWII, before emigrating to the US in 1949, living in Baltimore, Chicago, and DC. He published four books of poems: Žaibai ir vėjai (1965), Žiemos daina (1955), Strėlė danguje (1950), and Fontanas (1935), and in 1986, Wesleyan University Press released his selected poems, Chimeras in the Tower, translated by Jonas Zdanys. He is widely considered one of the major poets of Lithuania. Radauskas was fluent in Lithuanian, Russian, German, French, and English. Despite work experience as a primary school teacher, university professor, radio broadcaster, and book editor, he had difficulty finding work in the US. After many years of factory work, his final job was as a translator and copy editor at the Library of Congress, where he worked from 1959 until his death in 1970.
Dewey N. Fox is a poet who lives and works in Baltimore.