An Abandoned Church

An Abandoned Church

By Milan Rakić

An old painting of a crucified Christ lies.
Down his wounded chest blood is shed;
His lips are deathly pale, dead are his eyes;
A wrought silver nimbus about his head.

A ducat necklace glows around his neck-
A gift from a devout serf and a noble lord,
The fine frame that pure silver does deck
A Debar artist made from a wooden board.

Thus lies Christ this desolate shrine amid.
As darkness subtly falls and all world lies hid,
And night birds lurk their prey as they soar,

Alone, in th’ empty church that vampires haunt,
Christ spreads his arms, desperate and gaunt,
Forever awaiting his flock, which is no more…

Translated from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

NAPUŠTENA CRKVA

Leži stara slika raspetoga Hrista.
Mlaz mu krvi curi niz slomljena rebra;
Oči mrtve, usne blede, samrt ista;
Nad glavom oreol od kovana srebra.

Dar negdašnjeg plemstva i pobožnog sebra,
Đerdan od dukata o vratu mu blista.
Po okviru utisnuta srma čista,
A okvir joj rezo umetnik iz Debra.

Takav leži Hristos, sred pustoga hrama.
I dok neosetno, svuda pada tama,
I jato se noćnih ptica na plen sprema,

Sam u pustoj crkvi, gde kruže vampiri,
Očajan i strašan, Hristos ruke širi,
Večno čekajući pastvu, koje nema…

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Jephimia

Jephimia

By Milan Rakić

Jephimia, the wife of Uglješa, the despot,
And a nobleman’s daughter, in a sanctuary
All secluded, with pious zeal and no respite,
Embroiders a silk shroud for the monastery.

All around her, the blood of people is shed,
Empires fall and crumbles the world whole,
She, ever alone, embroiders in silk thread
And gold the deep anguish of her noble soul.

Centuries have gone by, in oblivion they rest,
But this people is still groaning as before.
And it seems that even in the time of yore
Our hearts used to beat in your gentle chest.

And at the time of the nation’s doleful fall,
When in the horizon there is no light frail,
You and your humble abode I clearly recall,
O despotress of Serbia with a nun’s veil!

Then I feel that just as once she used to do,
Over our calamity which ever direr grows,
Over the flame enveloped by darkness, too,
The old Black Lady is bemoaning our woes…

Translated from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

JEFIMIJA

Jefimija, ćerka gospodara Drame,
I žene despota Uglješe, u miru,
Daleko od sveta, puna verske tame,
Veze svilen pokrov za dar manastiru.

Pokraj nje se krve narodi i guše,
Propadaju carstva, svet vaskolik cvili,
Ona, večno sama, na zlatu i svili
Veze strašne bole otmene joj duše.

Vekovi su prošli i zaborav pada,
A još ovaj narod kao nekad grca,
I meni se čini da su naša srca
U grudima tvojim kucala još tada,

I u mučne čase narodnoga sloma,
Kad svetlosti nema na vidiku celom,
Ja se sećam tebe i tvojega doma,
Despotice srpska s kaluđerskim velom!

I osećam tada da, ko nekad, sama,
Nad nesrećnom kobi što steže sve jače,
Nad plamenom koji obuhvata tama,
Stara Crna Gospa zapeva i plače…

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…

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

А Transitional Generation

А Transitional Generation

By Milan Rakić

It was Lord’s will to create me diverse,
In the land where life is dull and dreary;
Days go by, neither better nor worse,
Grey, they sink into an infinity bleary.

A different soul have I given unto me,
And with it new desires and new needs,
As here I suffer the slings of ill destiny,
I crave another world where my soul leads.

I, the drifter, am perpetually on the go
‘Twixt the realms of things and of desire:
As one besets me like some enemy dire,
The other flowers covertly does throw.

Therefore I shall perish in destiny’s storm,
The vindictive time will trample me upon,
For I am beyond it, my blood is all warm,
I do not tread the path that is walked on.

I shall crumble and fall and so will all who
Were born with restless souls, in the land
Of philistine passion and wrongs planned,
When some strange feelings we do pursue!

Such is our destiny! Nobody will know
That we used to be the first, albeit small,
And that on our posterity we did bestow,
A new language with new feelings all.

For it was Lord’s will to create us diverse,
At the age of living a life dull and dreary,
When days are neither better nor worse,
And people are lukewarm, simple, weary…

Translated from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

ПРЕЛАЗНО ПОКОЛЕЊЕ

Господ је тако хтео да ме створи
У земљи где се монотоно живи;
Промичу дани ни бољи ни гори,
И, сиви, клизе у недоглед сиви.

А сâм сам себи другу душу дао,
И с њоме чежње и потребе нове,
И док ме овде гњечи удес зао,
У пределе ме друге душа зове.

И, шеталица, ја се вечно крећем
Између света чезнућа и ствари:
Један ме гони као крвник стари,
А други кришом посипа ме цвећем.

А судбина ће зато да ме смрви,
И осветничко време да ме згази,
Јер сам ван њега, узавреле крви,
И не корачам по утртој стази.

Пропашћу и ја, и са мном сви они
Рођени с душом немирном, у дане
Ћифтинске страсти и намерне мане,
Кад необичан осећај се гони!

Таква је судба! Нико неће знати
Да некад бесмо први, премда мали,
Колену нашем да смо, као мати,
Нов језик с новим осећајем дали.

Јер Бог је тако хтео да нас створи
У доба кад се монотоно живи,
Кад дани нису ни бољи ни гори,
А људи млаки, једноставни, сиви…

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A Poem of Love

A Poem of Love

By Milan Rakić

A bunch of blooming lilacs is humming low,
And the night is all aglitter in the starlight,
Longing for a lavish love God did bestow.
While the smiling moon is shining bright,
A bunch of blooming lilacs is humming low.

One such passionate and sensual night,
Tristan was awaited by the fair Isolde,
The wailing graveyards are roused quite
Remembering the gone-by days of gold.
One such passionate and sensual night,

Carrying with him a ladder of silk made,
An ancient knight, full of hope, unafraid,
Rushed to the tower of his faithful maid,
And sang to her a passionate serenade.
An ancient knight, full of hope, unafraid!

Hum, o, night of the bygone age, hum!
In my heart I cherish late men so dear.
Pageants white from a grave now come,
And with me they love, yearn, and fear!
Hum, o, night of the bygone age, hum,

Passionate and eager, she is waiting
For me like Isolde awaited Tristan, too.
Anxiously she harks the far stamping,
As the smiling moon shines in the night
And the fragrant breeze is blowing light
A bunch of blooming lilacs through!

Translation from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

ЉУБАВНА ПЕСМА

Шуме бокори цветног јоргована,
И ноћ звездана трепери, и жуди
За бујну љубав, свету богом дана.
Док месечина насмејана блуди,
Шуме бокори цветног јоргована.

У таку ноћ је пожудну и страсну
Изолда некад чекала Тристана.
Буде се гробља уз кукњаву гласну
И сећају се прохујалих дана.
У таку ноћ је пожудну и страсну,

Носећи собом лествице од свиле,
Старински витез, пун вере и наде,
Хитао замку своје верне Виле,
И певао јој страсне серенаде.
Старински витез, пун вере и наде!

Шуми, о ноћи прохујалог доба!
У срцу носим некадање људе.
Поворке беле дижу се из гроба,
И са мном, љубе, чезну, стрепе, жуде!
Шуми, о ноћи прохујалог доба,

Страсно и жудно! Она мене чека
Ко некад плава Изолда Тристана.
Стрепи, и слуша топот из далека,
Док месечина насмејана сија
И ћув мирисни заносно ћарлија
У бокорима цветног јоргована!

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Like a Fairy-tale

Like a Fairy-tale

By Milan Rakić

I want a night when the moon is slumbery,
Tearful and lean, with no colour, all still,
When earth and mead smell nostalgically
Of quince kept for months on the sill;

When everything is sad and falls apart
And it seems as if ailing children cried
When utterly dissolves my longing heart,
When muffled sighs echo far and wide;

Then, as your lips descend over mine,
I wish the two of us may jointly whine…
I want a night, as a bride’s veil white,
Clear, bright and all lit by moonbeam,

To bless your body and things with quite
A foreign form, when all things seem
Like a fairy-tale, that it’s not real at all,
That all things blend with fair moonlight,

And that all things softly fade and fall,
And that all things vanish from sight,
Then, as your lips descend over me,
I wish the two of us too may cease to be.

Translation from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

Kao бајка

Hтео бих једну ноћ кад месец куња,
Плачеван, кржљав, без сјаја и боје,
А земља има сетан мирис дуња
Што месецима у прозору стоје;

И све да буде тужно, све да буде
Као да свуда јече болна деца,
Растапају се чежње као груде,
И све кроз сутон пригушено јеца;

Па кад на мене падну усне твоје,
Да зајецамо и ми, обадвоје…
Хтео бих једну ноћ венчано белу,
Провидну, светлу, сву у месечини,

Да неземаљски изглед дâ твом телу,
И свакој ствари, и да ми се чини.
Ко бајка да је, да то није јава,
Да с месечином све се стапа сада,

И неосетно губи се и пада,
И све нестаје, и све ишчезава,
Па кад на мене падну усне твоје,
да ишчезнемо и ми, обадвоје…

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A Melancholy Song

A Melancholy Song

By Milan Rakić

It’s the time when our hair turns grey,
And our senses gradually go numb.
And so we stand pallid with dismay,
As our old age is heralded by a drum.

Yet inside of me he never dies,
That follower of young Werther who
Pines under the moonlight and cries
At ev’ry mention of old emotions true!

O, I well know the old flame and joy
Have faded and will be no more.
But, no one can our love destroy:
It changes, but is alive evermore.

Now our love is noble and so pure,
As if imbu’d with moonlight. It smells
Like a dead rose, a memory obscure,
In a book on which no one e’er dwells.

O, my sweet beloved, let me rest my
Weary head in your lap, and listen to
Now, as purple hues light up the sky
And the eve unfolds its black wing, too

Like in a seashell the roar of the sea,
In our souls, where henceforth will grow
A string of woes and old-age misery,
The soft murmur of passion of long ago.

Translation from the Serbian by:
Ljiljana Parović

SETNA PESMA

Došlo je vreme kad nam kosa sedi,
I naša čula postepeno grube.
Stojimo tako skrušeni i bledi
Dok našu starost objavljuju trube.

No još u meni iščeznuo nije
Sledbenik mladog Vertera, što sanja
Pri mesečini, i što suze lije
Uz svaki spomen starog osećanja!

O znam to dobro, stari oganj da je
Nestao, da ga neće biti više.
No našu ljubav nema ko da zbriše:
Ona se menja, ali uvek traje.

Sad nam je ljubav otmena i čedna,
Ko mesečinom prožeta. Miriše
Ko cvet sasušen, uspomena jedna,
U knjizi što se već ne čita više.

O daj mi, draga, da na krilo tvoje
Položim glavu umornu, da sada
Slušam, dok blješte na zapadu boje
I veče kao crno krilo pada,

Kao u školjci huku morskih vala
U našoj duši, gde će odsad rasti
Niz crnih beda i staračkih zala,
Prigušen šumor nekadanje strasti…