Poetic cartography

Vilnius of Joseph Brodski

Joseph Brodsky (Leningrad, 1940 – New York, 1996) – a Russian poet, an essayist, and a Nobel Laureate (1987).

Brodsky came to Vilnius, Lithuania in August 1996. Later he visited again in the spring and autumn of 1967, the winter and summer of 1968, as well as New Year’s and one summer day in 1969. On April 5-7, 1971, he came once more to meet with the Polish translator Wiktor Woroszylski. Then he visited again September 9-12, and also in 1972, before his emigration to the West. All in all, through the period lasting from 1966 to 1972, Brodsky visited Lithuania at least 10 times.

These visits left imprints in Brodsky’s poetry. The first of his poems that deals with the Lithuanian theme is called “In Palanga” and is thought to have been written in 1967. Later Brodsky wrote a poem cycle called “Lithuanian Divertissement” (1971), which he dedicated to Tomas Venclova, and a mini-poem entitled “Lithuanian Nocturne” (1974-1983). Also there exists an unfinished poem, “Autumn happened to be warm, I lived in Lithuania…” (<1970>), which remains in Brodsky’s archive and is mentioned in Yakov Klots’ book “Joseph Brodsky in Lithuania” (2010).