Eduard Mezhelaitis

Eduard Mezhelaitis

People's Poet of Lithuania, Hero of Socialist Labor, Lenin Prize laureate
Date of Birth: 03.10.1919
Country: Lithuania

  1. Biography of Eduardas Meželaitis
  2. Early Career and Poetry
  3. Major Works and Recognition

Biography of Eduardas Meželaitis

Eduardas Meželaitis, a renowned Lithuanian poet, was born into a working-class family. He completed his education at a gymnasium where he was taught literature by the poet Salomėja Nėris, and many of his teachers were known for their anti-fascist beliefs. Meželaitis went on to study at the Law Faculties of Kaunas and Vilnius Universities from 1939 to 1940.

Meželaitis began his literary career in 1935 and gained recognition for his translations of works by A.S. Pushkin, M.Y. Lermontov, T.G. Shevchenko, and others into Lithuanian. His own literary works have been translated into many languages worldwide. From 1959 to 1970, Meželaitis served as the Chairman of the Board of the Communist Party of the Lithuanian SSR, Secretary of the Board of the Communist Party of the USSR (since 1959), and member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania (since 1960). He was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Prize in 1969 and received the Order of Lenin, three other orders, and several medals.

Early Career and Poetry

During World War II, Meželaitis worked at the "Red Giant" factory in Nikolsk, Penza Oblast from 1941 to 1942, before joining the front as a war correspondent for the 16th Lithuanian Division. Even in his early collections of poetry, such as "Lyrics" (1943), "Wind of the Homeland" (1946), and "My Nightingale" (1952), Meželaitis showcased his exceptional lyrical talent. His poetry drew inspiration from the rich sources of Lithuanian folklore, and his lyrical protagonist felt an inseparable connection with his people and the native nature. Meželaitis' early lyrics were reminiscent of the traditions of poets like Salomėja Nėris and Sergei Yesenin, with his poems becoming a unique blend of poetic journalism and lyrical prose. They served as sincere narratives about himself, poetry, and art.

Major Works and Recognition

A significant milestone in Meželaitis' career was the epic poem "Fraternity" (1955). His collection of poems, "Man" (1961), which received the Lenin Prize in 1962, became a notable event in both Meželaitis' artistic biography and Soviet poetry as a whole. The book was a joyful hymn to the Communist Man, his Earth, and simultaneously raised concerns about the fate of all humanity and its future. Meželaitis' later collections, such as "Sun in Amber" (1961), "Self-Portrait. Aviation Sketches" (1962), "Southern Panorama" (1963), and "Cardiogram" (1963), exhibited deep intellectualism, philosophical musings, and a journalistic fervor.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Meželaitis published books of poetic journalism that expressed his thoughts on Lithuanian and global art, including "Lyrical Etudes" (1964), "Bread and Word" (1965), "Night Butterflies" (1966), "Here is Lithuania" (1968), "Horizons" (1970), "Baroque of Antakalnis" (1971), and "Amber Bird" (1972). He also wrote several collections of poems for children, such as "Who to Be" (1947), "What the Apple Tree Said" (1951), "The Teacher" (1953), and others.

Eduardas Meželaitis' contributions to literature and his translations of renowned works into Lithuanian have cemented his status as a national poet of Lithuania. His artistic achievements and political involvement were recognized through numerous awards, including the Order of Lenin, three other orders, and various medals.