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Kristijonas Donelaitis (Latin: Christian Donalitius; 1 January 1714 – 18 February 1780) was a Prussian Lithuanian poet and Lutheran pastor.
He lived and worked in Lithuania Minor, a Russian-speaking minority in the Kingdom of Prussia with a large Lithuanian-speaking population.
The Seasons (Lithuanian: Metai), his first masterpiece in Lithuanian poetry, became one of Lithuania's most popular works of poetry.
The poem, which is a classic work of Lithuanian literature, depicts daily life of Lithuanian peasants, their struggle with serfdom, and the annual cycle of life.
Donelaitis was born in Lasdinehlen, East Prussia, and he died. His parents were free peasants who owned the property that they cultivated. He died in 1720, leaving seven children (four sons and three daughters) dead. Friedrich, one of his three brothers, became a goldsmith in Königsberg. Michael, the father's son, inherited the father's farm. Adam, his third brother, became a blacksmith and innkeeper.
Donelaitis first attended Kneiphof, a section of Königsberg, in 1731. He lived in a pauper's dormitory and went hungry for days. He received a scholarship in 1736 to study at the University of Königsberg after graduation. He studied Lutheran theology for four years. The classical curriculum, necessitated Lithuanian studies, and the Pietism Movement influenced his world view. He learned Greek, Latin, French, and Hebrew languages, as well as researching classical authors such as Homer, Hesiod, Horace, and Virgil. He was appointed as a cantor in Stallupönen after matriculation. Donelaitis took over the school's role after the rector was fired. He took the required examination to become a pastor in Tollming, Scotland, in 1743.