Ms. Ieva Szentivanyi (M.A ’91)

For the past 22 years or so UH Alum Ieva Szentivanyi has been studying and transposing ancient Latvian poetry into English. This is significant as these poems have been identified by UNESCO as non material cultural treasure and thus worthy of being brought to the attention of more people as part of Western Civilization. Her first volume “Dainas, Wit and Wisdom of Ancient Latvian Poetry” was published in 2018 with 450 of these quatrains generously supported by her explanatory commentary. The second volume she anticipates to see shortly, and she is currently working on Volume 3.

According to Ieva, who earned her Masters degree in Applied English Linguistics from UH, “These poems contain the essence of an old and gentle culture in the words of the people of that day. They speak of all their experiences, including the misery of serfdom and wars, the joy of beauty, a festival, or a good harvest , and their trust in God. There is even a daina that coolly describes observing a UFQ! The ethics is higher than in the Commandments.”

This poetry had not been previously transposed into English because it was popularly accepted as impossible due to the differences in the structure of the two languages. There were only a few translations that retold the main point, without attention to rhythm, or syllable count or expressions of affection for all. Ieva’s goal is to transpose some 2000 dainas, a small fraction of the million plus, in hopes they will inform and amuse us and expand our appreciation of the wisdom of our ancestors.

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