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Labora
by
Vincas Kudirka


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While young, oh brother, plant crops of grain
And do not neglect the soil! Then, when you feel
How body takes stiffness, your soul now drowsy,
It is late already to work: you cannot sow, you cannot harvest.

While in the heart is burning that holy fire,
Which pulls to work and gives so much strength
Because even the feeble and weak can stand as a giant,
Oh work, in order that the fire does not go out.

While you still admire your own ideals, brother,
Reach only for those ideals righteous and high
So hurry! Later you... may disavow it
For a bit of gold, and a spoonful of tasty food.

Read the book of life, page by page,
Without stopping, because sometimes trapped into laziness
You decay; and do not go into the grave
Without leaving a mark: that a person was here.

Oh, if so difficult that work of yours
And strength pines away already, disheartened, disquieted
So take a look at the work of your young friends –
In one glance you will be revived.

 

This poem is in the public domain.

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Vincas Kudirka (1858 – 1899) was a Lithuanian poet, songwriter, and satirist. A trained physician who worked as a country doctor, Vincas didn't begin writing poetry until he was thirty. The son of a peasant family, his activity in underground movements caused him to be arrested by Russian police on more than one occasion, but Vincas was a strong supporter of national and democratic rights. He wrote both the words and music for the Lithuanian national anthem and is considered one of that country's greatest heroes.


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