Peonies

Peonies

By Milan Rakić

What a beautiful night! All over the plains,
Down the locusts, mulberries and planes,
In lush golden cascades now richly flows
That ethereal fair moonlight. Over those

Meadows covered by the odorous grain,
Mid the boughs in bloom, o’er the ground
And fields all dark after the pouring rain,
The great soul of the moon sleeps sound.

Peace is all around. The vast field lies so
Quietly where brave troops fell row by row.
Sprouted from the blood of many long ago,
Red and blue, across Kosovo peonies grow.

Translated from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

BOŽUR

Kako je lepa ova noć! Gle, svuda,
S topole, rasta, bagrema, i duda,
U mlazevima zlatokosim pada
Nesuštastvena mesečina. Sada,

Nad livadama gde trava miriše,
U rascvetanim granama, svrh njiva
Koje su crne posle bujne kiše,
Velika duša mesečeva sniva.

Sve mirno. Tajac. Ćuti polje ravno
Gde nekad pade za četama četa…
— Iz mnoge krvi izniknuo davno,
Crven i plav, Kosovom božur cveta…

slika1-nadezda

(A Field of Kosovo Peonies by Nadežda Petrović, 1913)

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Simonida

Simonida

(A fresco housed by the 14th century Serbian
Monastery of Gra
čanica, Kosovo-Metohija)

By Milan Rakić

They gouged your orbs out, image fair
On a stone slab one distant night.
Knowing no one could see him there,
An Arbanas marred your orbs bright.

But, he wouldn’t touch with his hand,
Your sweet lips or your noble face,
Your crown of gold or your veil grand
Hiding your thick hair ‘neath its lace.

Now, in the church, on a stone plate,
In an ornate mosaic-like robe clad,
As you quietly endure your ill fate,
I behold you all white, solemn and sad;

And like extinguished stars which
To send their light to a man persist,
So he can see the form and shine rich
Of distant stars that no more exist,

Even now from the soot-covered plate,
On the dark wall of this holy shrine,
Your orbs, doleful Simonida, not of late
Gouged out, on me continue to shine.

Translation from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

Simonida

Iskopaše ti oči, lepa sliko
Večeri jedne na kamenoj ploči,
Znajući da ga tad ne vidi niko,
Arbanas ti je nožem izbo oči.

Ali dirnuti rukom nije hteo
Ni otmeno ti lice, niti usta,
Ni zlatnu krunu, ni kraljevski veo,
Pod kojim leži kosa tvoja gusta.

I sad u crkvi, na kamenom stubu,
U iskićenom mozaik-odelu,
Dok mirno snosiš sudbu svoju grubu,
Gledam te tužnu, svečanu, i belu;

I kao zvezde ugašene, koje
Čoveku ipak šalju svetlost svoju,
Te čovek vidi sjaj, oblik, i boju
Dalekih zvezda što već ne postoje,

Tako na mene, sa mračnoga zida,
Na počađaloj i starinskoj ploči,
Sijaju sada, tužna Simonida, –
Tvoje već davno iskopane oči.

Simonida

The Goblet

The Goblet

By Milan Rakić

Listen now to the words, pure and sincere
Of a suffering soul, kindred to your soul,
Ere thunder strikes and storm gets near
And suddenly dies my restless heart whole,
Listen to the songs passionate in vain, dear.

Ere the decisive battle, I gave not to you
A veil, or a wedding-ring, or a mantle new,
Like ancient heroes, of me to make you think,
When dire predicament befalls and too
Children begin to cry and women into grief sink.

Now lined up in the battlefield corpses lie.
Both rich and poor in a terrible mixture die.
The night falls, lighting flashes o’er the plain
As the last victim an old executioner is hung by,
A vast heap of the wounded lingers in the rain.

My beloved, will your limpid eyes find me
Among them? Will from the old goblet,
As the herald of eternal peace, fall a droplet
Onto the wounds, gaping and sore as can be?
Will the pain be wiped away by the droplet?

I’m waiting. Not a soul. Daylight does abate.
The night spills darkness and hours so late,
Not even stars flicker briefly in the skies.
Not a soul. Listening to the loud cries I wait
As the vast heap of the wounded in the rain lies.

Translation from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

KONDIR

Počuj draga, reči iskrene i jasne
Jedne bolne duše, tvojoj duši prisne,
Pre no oluj stigne i grom strašni prasne,
I nemirno srce najedanput svisne,
Počuj ove pesme uzaludno strasne.

Pre odsudnog boja ja ti nisam dao
Koprenu, ni burmu, ni azdiju, kao
Starinski junaci, po čemu ćeš mene
Pomenuti kada stigne udes zao
I zapište deca i zaplaču žene.

Sad na razbojištu leži leš do leša.
Plemići i sebri. Leži strašna smeša.
Noć se hvata, Samo munja katkad blisne.
Dok poslednje žrtve stari krvnik veša,
Nepregledna hrpa ranjenika kisne…

Hoće li me naći među njima tvoje
Bistre oči, draga? Hoće l iz kondira,
Ko preteča skromna večitoga mira,
Pasti kap na rane što zjape i gnoje?
Hoće l pasti kaplja što bolove spira?

Čekam. Nigde nikog. Svetlost dana gasne.
Noć prosipa tamu i časove kasne,
Ni zvezde na nebu da za trenut blisne. —
Čekam. Nigde nikog. Uz vapaje glasne
Nepregledna hrpa ranjenika kisne…

kosovka-devojka