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Dainas: Wit and Wisdom of Ancient Latvian Poetry Vol. I

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Dainas: Wit and Wisdom of Ancient Latvian Poetry Vol. II

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Dainas: Wit and Wisdom of Ancient Latvian Poetry Vol. III

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The meandering path of my life began in Latvia. When the Soviet army was forcibly taking over the country in 1944, my family fled with a few possessions in a horse drawn cart and headed westward over refugee-choked roads. My parents had witnessed the horrors of communism in 1941 and feared what was likely to happen.


Thanks to the amazing courage of the Latvian forces, who successfully maintained their position against the Soviets in the western part of the country and who remained undefeated even to the end of the war, my family was able to reach the Baltic Sea and secure passage to Germany. We were warmly received and saw the end of the war there.


But it was a chaotic and unhappy time, as Latvia was lost to Communists, and the part of Germany where we had settled was to be ceded to the Soviets, so again we had to flee. This time we had a cart, but no horse, only two donkeys...

Volume II continues the original format of organizing precious dainas into chapters by theme. This volume contains more than 400 dainas than Volume I.

Wit and Wisdom

Volume II

This volume focuses on the agrarian chores required to establish and maintain a homestead, including growing grain, raising cows and beekeeping. The final chapter is entitled "Sources of Power - Bit by Bit Giveth God."

Wit and Wisdom

Volume III

My Books
Vol I.I is the original printing of poetic transpositions from Latvian into English with accompanying explanations. This volume is sold out.

Wit and Wisdom

Volume I.I

Vol I.II has the same content as Vol I.I, but includes a larger print font, several illustrations and a cloth-bound cover.
“Celmus laida mākonos” builds on Dainas: Wit and Wisdom of Ancient Latvian Poetry with additional chapters and dainas. It is written exclusively in Latvian.

Wit and Wisdom

Volume I.II

Celmus Laida Mākoņos


23. novembris 2019

"Tā nav lēta sensācija – daina par spožo zvaigzni, kas skanēdama uzbrauc debesīs –" 

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31 March 2021

"Mrs. Szentivanyi calls [dainas] Latvia's wisdom to share with the world."

- Guy Kiddey


Latvia Weekly - 29 Aug 2019

"Because of the brief, simple, explanatory and reflective commentaries, it should be comprehensible to readers who are new to dainas and Latvian traditional culture in general, as well as interesting and educational for many Latvian readers.”

Līga Horgāna, Latvia Weekly


LSM.LV (English)

"The process is very complicated because there is no way to say certain ancient Latvian expressions in English, such as saulīt tecēj' tecēdama  (literally - the sun was flowing)."



"Dainas pirmkārt ir vērtīgas tieši to pašu iemeslu dēļ, kādēļ vērtīga ir pasaules literatūra."

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"Kad biju nopelnijusi trīs grādus universitātēs, iepazinusies ar pasaules literatūras klasiku un Bībeli, sapratu, ka dainām jāstāv tam blakus. Bet angliski to nav!"

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"Ieva not only transforms each Daina into English in her books, but she also describes and explains it so that it can be understood by foreigners. "

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