Paths

Paths

By Djura Jakšić

Before me now two paths out are spread:
One of flowers, the other of spines;
My feet of iron are strong to tread
On the thorny path beyond confines.

I cede the path strewed with flowers sweet
To the ones whose step is soft and frail;
Trodden be flowers by ladies’ feet,
Men are made for the thorny trail!

STAZE

Dve preda mnom staze stoje:
Jedna s cvećem, druga s trnjem;
Gvozdene su noge moje:
Idem trnju da se vrnem.

Ja ustupam cveća staze
kojima je noga meka;
Nek po cveću žene gaze,
a trnje je za čoveka!

dve-staze

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Midnight

Midnight

By Djura Jakšić

It’s midnight,
That black-veiled silent goddess
Of a free soul she’s the blessedness,
Dark is the night, th’ evil hour has come.

But, what’s that hum?…
Under the black wing of a mute midnight,
Just like an immense solitary billow
That rolls across the sea high and low;
It’s roaring soft and slow as if dying,
As if coming from underground, horrifying.
Is it the spirits speaking to the earth?
Is it the earth cursing its deeds of little worth?
Or haply the heavens are journeying forth,
Not to listen to my curse henceforth;
So the stars and the sky are filled with rue,
As they bid to the world their last adieu!
What if the world of the sky is bereft?
What if no more dawn on earth is left?
What if the darkness
Stays on?…

The steps are heard as well…
If ‘tis midnight softly gliding I cannot tell.
Treading so quietly is not even the air;
As if it came from yonder world fair.
Is it a cloud drifting aloft furtively?
Is it some ailing man gasping heavily?
Is it an angel with a cure to save his life,
Or a keen scythe to cut short his strife?
Could it be love?….Could it be spite?…
It might be sneaking up, oh, yes it might,
To empty our sole glass of joy and delight?
Or haply tears of grief are poured alright,
To inundate us by their floods so shed,
Or the defunct are rising from the dead?

The door creaked open…
O ghost! Dearest spirit, o!
Darling mother! O I’m blessed so!
Many a day, many a year have passed,
Many a time truths were bitter in the past;
Many a time shivered my fearful heart,
Many a time people tore my soul apart;
Much I repented and much I sinned again,
And with cold death I consoled myself then;
With bitterness filled I drank many a glass,
Many a piece I drenched in tears, alas!
O mother, mother! Dearest spirit, o!
Mother, ever since I parted with thee,
No good or bliss has ever befallen me!…
Yet, thou might think: “He’s well, I believe,
For he harks not the spider softly weave
Its gossamer cobweb, with a silken thread,
Which over our gloomy ceiling is spread:
-Thou art among thy neighbours, thy kin.”

Yet, being among them is worse than a sin:
Hand in hand walk malice and disgrace,
Envy oft gives them a brotherly embrace,
Falsehood is their close and dear friend,
Villainy takes them to the world’s end;
Attended by flattery, served by treachery,
They seek infidelity to keep them company.
O, mother, mother, this world is malicious,
Life is, mother, so sorrowful and vicious!

Translated from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

PONOĆ

Ponoć je,
U crnom plaštu nema boginja.
Slobodne duše to je svetinja,
To gluvo doba, taj crni čas…

Al’ kakav glas?…
Po tamnom krilu neme ponoći,
K’o grdan talas jedan jedini
Da se po morskoj valja pučini;
Lagano huji k’o da umire,
Il’ da iz crne zemlje izvire.
Možda to dusi zemlji govore?
Il’ zemlja kune svoje pokore?
Il’ nebo možda dalje putuje,
Da moju kletvu više ne čuje;
Pa zvezde plaču, nebo tuguje,
Poslednji put se s zemljom rukuje!
Pa zar da neba svetu nestane?
Pa zar da zemlji više ne svane?
Zar da ostane
Tama?…

I hod se čuje…
Da l’ ponoć tako mirno putuje?
Ni vazduh tako tiho ne gazi;
K’o da sa onog sveta dolazi.
Il’ kradom oblak ide na više?
Il’ bolnik kakav teško uzdiše?
Il’ anđ’o melem s neba donosi?
Il’ oštru kosu, da ga pokosi?
Da ljubav ne ide?… Da zloba nije?…
Možda se krade, da nam popije
I ovu jednu čašu radosti?
Il’ možda suza ide žalosti,
Da nas orosi tužna kapljica?
Ili nam mrtve vraća zemljica?

Vrata škrinuše…
O duše! o mila seni!
O majko moja! o blago meni!
Mnogo je dana, mnogo godina,
Mnogo je gorkih bilo istina;
Mnogo mi puta drhtaše grudi,
Mnogo mi srca cepaše ljudi;
Mnogo sam kaj’o, mnogo grešio,
I hladnom smrću sebe tešio;
Mnogu sam gorku čašu popio,
Mnogi sam komad suzom topio.
O majko, majko! o mila seni!
Otkad te, majko, nisam video,
Nikakva dobra nisam video!…
Il’ možda misliš: „Ta dobro mu je,
Kad ono tiho tkanje ne čuje
Što pauk veze žicom tananom
Nad onim našim crnim tavanom:
– Među ljud’ma si, među bližnjima“…

Al’ zlo je, majko, biti međ’ njima:
Pod ruku s zlobom pakost putuje,
S njima se zavist bratski rukuje,
A laž se uvek onde nahodi
Gde ih po svetu podlost provodi;
Laska ih dvori, izdajstvo služi,
A nevera se sa njima druži…
O majko, majko, svet je pakostan,
Život je, majko, vrlo žalostan!

Midnight Pop

Fatherland

Fatherland

By Djura Jakšić

E’en this rock of the land of Serbia
That, defying the Sun, tears thro’ a cloud,
By the grim lines of its gloomy brow
Evokes its long, tumultuous past,
Showing, reticent, with silent mime
The deep furrows of its cheeks.

Of dark centuries these are the traces –
The obscure wrinkles, murky caverns;
And this rock rising like a pyramid
From the dust towards the sky –
‘Tis a pile of decaying bones that
In combat against their bitter foe
Your forefathers willfully heaped,
Bonding with the blood of own hearts
Of their arms the broken bones –
To form an ambush whence, scornful
Of the foe, their grandsons would
Boldly waylay its rampaging hordes.

But, only up to that place, that rock,
That rampart, –
Haply shall your hostile feet tread.
If you venture further, you shall hark
The mighty roar of thunder rip thro’
The silence of the free land;
Your fearful heart will comprehend
What its audacious voice’s telling you,
Then, gripped by horrendous fear,
You shall be banging your bare head
Against this rock all solid and hard…
Yet, mid the horrific clamour of combat,
One phrase, one thought you shall hear:
“’Tis the fatherland of the Serbs!…”

Translation from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

Otadžbina

I ovaj kamen zemlje Srbije,
Što, preteć suncu, dere kroz oblak,
Sumornog čela mračnim borama
O vekovečnosti priča dalekoj,
Pokazujući nemom mimikom
Obraza svoga brazde duboke.

Vekova tavnih to su tragovi —
Te crne bore, mračne pećine;
A kamen ovaj, kô piramida
Što se iz praha diže u nebo,
Kostiju kršnih to je gomila,
Što su u borbi protiv dušmana
Dedovi tvoji voljno slagali,
Lepeći krvlju srca rođenog
Mišica svojih kosti slomljene, —
Da unucima spreme busiju,
Oklen će nekad smelo, preziruć,
Dušmana čekat čete grabljive.

I samo dotle, do tog kamena,
Do tog bedema —
Nogom ćeš stupit, možda, poganom.
Drzneš li dalje?… Čućeš gromove
Kako tišinu zemlje slobodne
Sa grmljavinom strašnom kidaju;
Razumećeš ih srcem strašljivim
Šta ti sa smelim glasom govore,
Pa ćeš o stenja tvrdom kamenu
Brijane glave teme ćelavo
U zanosnome strahu lupati…
Al’ jedan izraz, jednu misao,
Čućeš u borbe strašnoj lomljavi:
„Otadžbina je ovo Srbina!…“

20160221_132205

As if Thru a Mist

As if Thru a Mist

By Djura Jakšić

Just like a ray that thru
A grey mist does flicker
And a bigger cloud that nears
To make the darkness thicker.

She too glimmers brief,
To deepen the shade, o!
To make inkier the dark,
To make greater the woe…

Translation from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

Kao kroz maglu

Kao kroz sivu maglu
Što samo sine zrak,
A gušći oblak dođe,
Da veći bude mrak.

I ona samo sinu,
Da opet dođe hlad,
Da veća tama bude,
Da veći bude jad…

flicker of light

Laughter

Laughter

By Djura Jakšić

I prefer listening to the terrible,
Deadly echo of sea waves’ splash,
And of knives the sanguinary slash,
And of dogs the barking unbearable;

I prefer hearing a thunder loud,
And of lions the dreadful roaring
To listening to a laughter pouring
From man’s mouth thin and proud.

The sea drowns, the lion does bite,
The sabre cuts, thunder strikes hot,
But no greater evil can be wrought,
Than by the laughter of man’s spite.

Translation from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

Osmeh

Volim slušat’ morskijeh talasa
strahovitu smrtonosnu jeku,
i noževa krvožednu seku,
i lajanje nesnošljivih pasa;

Volim čuti groma lelek pusti,
i urlanje lavova svirepo
nego osmeh umereni lepo
s čovečijih tankih slušat’ usti.

More davi, strašno lav ujeda,
sablja seče, grmeć’ grom obara
al’ toliko pokora ne stvara,
kao osmeh čovečijeg jeda.

Midnight

Midnight

By Đura Jakšić

At dead midnight, thru thick trees
The stars blink quiet in the breeze,
As my heart beats quickly so –
Oh, thru thick trees I tread slow!

Nearby babbles a swift stream,
And flowers rest in a soft dream,
To kiss a maiden fair I now go –
Oh, thru thick trees I tread slow!

I’ll fall, I’ll die, my soul is alight,
It’ll burn me till the morrow bright,
As the hot sun melts the white snow,
Oh, thru thick trees I tread slow!

Translation from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

Kroz ponoć

Kroz ponoć nemu i gusto granje
Vidi se zvezda tiho treptanje,
Čuje se srca silno kucanje –
O lakše samo kroz gusto granje!

Tu blizu potok daljinu para,
Tu se na cveću cveće odmara,
Tu mene čeka ašikovanje-
O lakše samo kroz gusto granje!

Pašću, umreću, duša mi gore,
Rastopiće me do bele zore,
K’o grudu snega vrelo sunčanje-
O lakše, lakše, kroz gusto granje.

Who Shall I Kiss

Who Shall I Kiss

By Đura Jakšić

Who shall I kiss and who shall I love?
Wretched as I am I hate myself.
I hate people, I hate…oh, God,
My heart knows only hatred itself.
But, you are gone – oh, sweet darling!
God has taken the brilliant soul of thine,
Bereaving me of all beauty and love
In the eternal hatred of this life of mine.

Translation from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

Koga da ljubim…

Koga da ljubim i šta da volim?
S’ nesreće svoje mrzim se sam.
Mrzim na ljude, mrzim…,o bože,
Ja samo mrzost u srcu znam.
A tebe nema – o, dušo moja!
Onako sjajnu uze te Bog,
Da ništa nemam lepo i milo
U večnoj mržnji života svog.