Light – Source, Meaning, Metaphor in Early Modern Poetry in Latvian

Māra Grudule (University of Latvia)

This paper will deal with the image of light in Latvian Lutheran hymnals in the so called first Golden Age of Latvian poetry on the brink of the 17th and 18th centuries. Seventeenth century science, especially research into optics, inspired artists to give light more symbolic value, and the same can be said of literature and religious verse. In them the image of light is used in a variety of ways, from a flickering candle in the dark to beams of sunlight in the morning and eventide. This paper will discuss the sources of light (the sun, the moon, and the candle) and the meaning of the images in the context of baroque literature, the arts, and pastoral poetry. As most of the texts are brief translations from German (from Simon Dach, Paul Gerhardt, Angelus Silesius, etc.), this paper will address the problem of cultural transfer and discuss the cases when the image has been replaced by a different one (e.g., in many texts in Latvian the candle appears instead of the “German” Sun) or exaggerated.

Keyword: Mara

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