Wednesday, 18 March 2009

(on the)Roads

Following on the above post, this poem by Bosnian poet Mak Dizdar (who was, incidentally, born in October 1917, on the eve of revolution) traces the same gap within the edifice of power. On one hand it speaks to a certain sense of Bosnian hybrid multicultural identity; on the other it more universally applies to the self-creating identity of the colonized (non-)subject which resists yet rejects being reduced to victimhood. Dizdar was also a linguist and scholar of medieval gravestones (stećci) left by the bogumils, the gnostic heretical faith that thrived in the Kingdom of Bosnia; his poetry was peppered with archaic terms derived from the stećci. Although the below is a very good translation, this particular dimension of Dizdar's language is totally absent.

Mak Dizdar


You have decreed me not to be cost what may
Charging me down
You laugh and weep
On your way
You purge all clean
You wipe all out

You have decided to wipe me out whatever the price
Yet nowhere will you find
The real
Road to me

You know roads carved and cleared
But none beyond
(Barren they be and narrow indeed
No matter how broad
And long
They seem
To you
So proud
And strong)

You know only the paths
That rise
From heart

But that is not all


Roads unfold ahead
With no trace of beaten track
No almanac
Departure time
Or tide

Your path to me in my misery
Seems trodden and tried in your sight
The sort
That leads

You fool yourself I can be found
If you follow a course
Like north

But that is not all

Hide and seek
Eyes peeled
Come and find me
Beneath the rye rippling in the wind
In the roots of earth where the dark has congealed


But from the measureless heights
The mightiest

But that is not all

You know no right of way
At the crossroads
Of night
And day

But that is not all

For you know least that in your life
The one true war
The hardest strife
Is at your
Spirit's core.

And so you do not know
That you are the least of my evils
Among a legion
Of larger

You do not know
With whom you are dealing

You know nothing of this roadmap I own


You do not know that the road from you to me
Is other than the road
From me
To you

You know nothing of my wealth
Hidden from your mighty eyes
(You do not know
That fate
Did demise
And deal me
Far more than
You may

You have decided to wipe me out whatever the price
But nowhere will you find the real road
To me

(I understand you:
You are a man in one space and time
Alive just here and now
You cannot know of the boundless
Space of time
In which I am
From a distant yesterday
To a far-off tomorrow
Thinking of you

But that is not all)

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