Antun Barac – ‘Fiume’ in English

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‘Fiume’

(passing impressions, July 1919)
by Antun Barac – translated for the first time by Martin Mayhew

Three beautiful, sunny, autumnal days. I don’t know what happened. In a single morning all the ties snapped, that were holding the voice in the throat, that loosened the links, that were chaining the feet, the heavy and rigid mask fell, that was hiding the face. A quiet whisper, which spoke curses and revealed a howl, scattered itself like a wild, holy cry of joy, whilst a hand, a pathetic hand, taught to give a servile and official greeting, extended for the first time in a bold gesture of belief and confidence in itself.

We went onto the streets, in processions, assemblies, groups and we sang and cheered. And everything was so sunny, bright and light. And everything was clear and cheerful and happy in the beautiful, clear autumnal day.

In the barracks there were soldiers, and they were cheering. In the hospitals there were wounded, and they were singing. The soldiers came out onto the streets and were firing their guns. After four blurry years it was the first time that the firing meant joy, after four sombre summers it was the first time that a bullet didn’t mean death, but life. And it was as though that shot, which was now rising into the air, was a symbol, as it rises and as it falls.

On the chests flowers and tricolours. In the windows flowers and tricolours. On the streetlamps, on the telephone poles, on the makeshift stands flowers and tricolours.

In a red, white, blue, green colour, in the grey colours of joy, ecstasy, hope and belief, on each flag, that flutters, of elation, love, sympathy and adoration, which the flag as a symbol means. In the red glow of love and brotherhood towards everything and everyone, in the whiteness of the cleanliness and sublimeness of ecstasy, hope in the new world, that was being created.

We went out onto the streets and sang. We welcomed the foreign troops and sang. We threw flowers and sang. We welcomed ships from foreign countries and sang. “Call out, just call out… Viva la France! Allons enfants de la Patrie!…” And the children of the homeland arrived, and laughed, and danced, and cheered.

Here people just walk around and cheer and sing” – they say, wrote home one French sailor. “Viva la Yugoslavie!” His compatriots cheered – and in their scepticism and in their laughter for the sake of laughing and joy for the sake of joy we felt the first stab of disappointment and misunderstanding.

In an isolated corner an old hunched over woman was sobbing. “Woman, why are you crying?” – asked a voice – I don’t know whose, and I don’t know where from. “In every joy there is a note of pain, in every laugh a seed of sorrow”, as though replying to somebody’s voice – who knows whose, who knows where from?

Three beautiful, clear, sunny, autumnal days. Three days of song and clamour and ecstasy. And then – armoured cars, machine guns and horses on the cobblestones and pikes, stretching up high, rigidly, arrogantly. In the port heavy ships with cannons aimed at the city, on the street assault troops with helmets, rifles, knapsacks and ammunition belts.

Three beautiful, clear, sunny, days passed. And nothing to show for them. Only a difficult, long winter with clouds. Just a cold summer with raindrops, that with the ‘bura’ and rain even the tears froze. Just a gloomy spring without light or sun.

Maybe a time will come, when all the ecstasy and elation will seem ridiculous to us. Maybe a period will come, when every sense will be reduced to a mathematical or chemical formula. I only know, that even then, when I was in the height of national fervour, I felt no desire for revenge or hatred or malice – the days of the greatest joy were days of forgiveness for everything, to all who had oppressed us, days of national liberty, a time when love for everyone was the most lively, the most conscious. And in those days of intoxicated delight and love, that had boiled over, the clenched fists, clashes and attacks were the end of everything.

I don’t know what happened. In just one day with a wild roar they began to tear down the tricolours of red and white and blue, and in the windows, on the streetlamps, the houses, the buildings, the churches suddenly others appeared – red and white and green, with a star and a coat of arms. Everywhere the coat of arms and everywhere the star, and everywhere fanatic hatred in the faces and fury and poison in the looks. “Italia o morte! Fuori il straniero!” Whilst the straniero thoughtfully stops and thinks: “Who in fact is the stranger?

In these sombre days of waiting and incertitude, desperation and zeal, it is so difficult to be alive and carry all the heavy burden of the present; however it is hardest to be human. So many times I have felt the pain and burden of life, but the worst thing was when I felt the aching shame, I didn’t feel fear for myself, but for those who persecuted us, the shame of man, that chaotic, disproportionate mixture of beast and god. The beast, wild, brutal, vicious, kicking and rearing up, and the god, sublime, the ashen sceptic levelling with it, taming or incensing it. And in the battle of animal with god like the battle of a bull with a toreador – the white, red, blue, green colours, that they have signifying a symbol, they stimulate it, intoxicate it, they extol it, bring it to an ecstasy of madness and rage. Fiume, the yellowish-grey, deceitful animal, from the eyes of which peer the envy and intoxication of excessive enthusiasm, throws itself, snapping, howling and moaning into exhaustion, until it falls bewildered, unconscious to the ground.

Therein the roar is so quiet! Therein the crowd is so uneasy and lonely. In this racket our steps reverberate so eerily. Oh, the whole of this city, whose number of inhabitants doubled in a few months, as it turned into a huge, grey, isolated monastery, where the shadows succumb to the wolf, hollow songs reverberate and the voices of muffled prayers drone. And thus it is miraculously quiet and in the murmur, so terribly calm in the constant throng.

Why call this city Rieka, when it is – Fiume. Reka, Rika, Rieka – that sounds so sweet, placid and childlike like the nostalgic “ca” and “ča” of the people of Drenova, Plase, Trsat, reminiscent of the sunny gleam of the stone walls and enclosures scattered with rocks and brambles, amongst which, in spring, blossom such beautiful and fragrant violas, a modest and shy flower. It is a city with a filthy physiognomy and with an inner self bland and murky, like the murky Fiumare canal, the dead water that cries for it. The Fiuman is a separate race, not belonging to any one nation. It is a mixture of everything that has come to this merchant city to trade – of everything, of many things. The Fiuman is both an Italian and a Yugoslav – an Italian, born of Yugoslavs and brought up as a Yugoslav, who cheers at the top of his voice: “O Italia o morte!, the Yugoslav is a quiet and timid beast, hiding because of his interests of his national origin with a neutral, inexpressible, merchant’s sneer. Whilst the Riečanin, Recan, Ričanin – they are the masses – they are the nameless mass, who don’t ask, quantité négligeable, they are the inhabitants of the workers’ houses, basements and attics, the servants and labourers, small artisans and assistants, the masses, who have only one head, and who would, maybe, with just a single blow fall. And that is the characteristic, external image of the city – Fiume, Fiuman. And in this fatal exchange is the source of all the illusions, all the efforts and all the miserable disappointments.

Years and years of timid and quivering yearnings for the city of Kvarner and in that name I will stop with everything, that was the dearest and utmost in life – but then the bloody realisation, that it was all just a yearning for childhood, for the sea, for the days that had gone forever. Yet there is no city, there is no childhood and there is no sea. There is only Fiume and Gomila and Fiumara – a murky, stagnant mire, like a feeble residue of exacerbated human passions, without the strength that it vanishes, without the strength that it stirs up, rises, moves.

Corso. An evening stroll. In the looks a glow and depth, in the gestures a yearning and yielding to love. Yet the whole city seems to shiver from one single deep gaze, which rises from the bottom of the soul and seeps into the bottom of the soul, and the whole city seems to twinkle from love, that is only the soul, only the soul. Whilst down, in the depths, inside – ah, there is no soul and there is nothing, the base and desolation and emptiness. And the whole of this city and all these people who rousingly speak and shout and wave – the whole of this city has no soul, and everything, that moves it, is the basic animal life. And its voice is not the sublimeness of ecstasy nor the size of reproach – everything is just a roar, clamour and mania. And the moment will come and everything will boil over and everything will disappear, what froths up and what rises up – on the empty bottom will remain just Fiume, a city without a soul and without physiognomy and a notion without features.

Over five bloody years ten times in the memory of the sparseness and irritation of the nerves the city howled and ten times they changed the inscriptions and ten times in a fanatical irritation the masses passed over their old idols. Today on the ruins of everything, a fiery rage triumphs in the proud satisfaction, that with the greatest lie it refuted thousands of its little lies and that in the deafening cry it suppressed everything, that protests, that rebels. Because that cry is not a lie, because this fire of enthusiasm isn’t hypocrisy. It is Fiume and everything is Fiume. And to whomsoever this Città di San Vito belongs; whosoever flag will flutter next to the double-headed eagle with the yellow-blue symbol – will win, I’m afraid of Fiume, and with a shout of honest enthusiasm the malicious cry of a lazy and cunning animal will intervene. And that is my fear and it will be a drop of bitterness in that moment, which we will surely never live to see.

What can enthral a man in this city, in which culture and supremacy are denoted by the black marks on the walls and the holes in broken inscribed tiles? In our weakness for it there is a weakness towards one’s own past, which is contained in these pavements, street corners and quays, a weakness towards the whistle of departing steamships and the whiteness of unfurled sails, that awoke our childlike imagination and tied it to this place, that doesn’t love us. In our trepidation towards its destiny there is only the fear for those miserable, unknown, oppressed thousands, who just silently accept the blows and ridicule and the stamp of inferiority. We understand that the sinful must repent the sins and perform penance those, who have deserved it. However what did the little pale children commit that they must suppress their voices in their throats, the only one with which they are able to express the feeling of happiness in the joy and drive of wickedness in the game?

Our feeling of attachment with this city isn’t a feeling of love, but a feeling of pain, and fear, and hopelessness in the sense of a wounded animal and disgust and revulsion. Because it is just Fiume – and Fiume is not an organism, not a concept, not a soul, but something colourless and tepid and tensile, that with its odour tears at the nostrils and throat, and intoxicates and commits evil. And here nothing enthrals and here nothing is attractive. The love of this city – ah, it is an illusion, it isn’t love, but an escape from it, an escape to the blueness of the sea, the sigh of Trsat, the greenery of Opatija and Volosko and the serene vistas towards Kostrena, Omišalj, Cres and Ika. Everything that nature has warm and soothing and soft, is gathered around this city, to shield it, to protect it, to conceal it. And the reason why its poison didn’t act. In the moment when the heavy shackles fall from the chests and from the legs and from the hands and from the tongues, from all sides pale children will rush and shower it with flowers of love, forgiveness and it will forget all the insults, all the blows and all the threats.

From Školjić to Kantrida – one and the same street and one and the same image: houses without expression, without style, stores, shop windows, markets. In the place where there is only trade, all the houses are built on clear commercial principles: with the least expenses – the highest rents. Houses without physiognomy, without souls. In the city, where everything is measured purely in monetary measures, the friars had also taken advantage of the few metres of free space around the church and built umpteen little rooms for shops. Trade is not permitted in the temple, however it is better in front of and around the temple. The city of fifty thousand inhabitants did not give up one single man, whose name would be recorded in the history of culture and art, and wishing to somehow christen their streets, the fathers of the city were having to reach back for names from the mother countries: of Hungary and Italy. In a city of fifty thousand souls there is not one monument, and the only highpoints on the streets are advertising posts and lavatories – as unintentional symbols of it, as if it is the only purpose in this place. I love and appreciate trade as a means, but as soon as it becomes the meaning of life, it becomes both the negation and profanation of all higher values. And that which people would have to make them happy, to lead them ever upwards, throws them ever lower. And Fiume is deep, so deep.

Amongst its great evidence for being Italian the supremacy of Italian culture is prominent in Rijeka, the culture of the Italian is greater than that of the Yugoslav. Whilst the first glance at this city shows that it has, in general, no culture, not only of its own, but no culture of any kind, and that, which in the moment could deceive the eyes, is just glued on, that is easily washed-off by the rain or over night, when the city’s new generation is over-patriotically disposed.

The fun fairs, public houses, buffet bars, cafés, cinemas. All dirty, all abandoned, all in disarray. The dirt of the port as though it passes into the city itself, into every corner, every alleyway. This relatively large city is not capable of supporting a permanent theatre, whilst the companies, which are hosted here for a month, twice a year, can only be supported by the subscriptions of Yugoslav misers. In the place, where all the sights are just negative assets, such are the values and the two most important characteristics: Rijeka’s Gomila and Rijeka’s street gangs. The heart, the centre of the city, consisting of ancient ruins, disgusting mansions with narrow and winding streets, where the sun never reaches and where streams of undignified liquids flow freely; dangerous, dark corners, smelly inns, and women, and beggars, and drunks. While Rijeka’s street gangs they are a mighty gutter army, an abandoned mob that attacks the schiavi, that fights selflessly and fervidly for the lofty goals of the city’s fathers and less selflessly, for the needs of life. And that is – Fiume.

In the days of liberty, in the days of the universal love of forgiveness, a grey monster howled, that calls itself Fiume, with a howl of hatred and revenge. In the days, when kisses and expressions of brotherhood should have rained down, it prepared itself for secretive bites, punches and stabs. And why wasn’t the punch stronger, that is just the deceitful cunningness and feeling of weakness alongside all the abundance of gesticulation.

Fiume November 1918Is this city ours? Ours are those thousands and thousands of silent beings, who resignedly just wait, eternally waiting, thousands unarmed and unlawful, who upon the punch and the bite correspond with a speechless look, who upon an energetic nod from their masters sign up dutifully and without opposition, not asking: “Where to?” – It doesn’t matter, what they’re called. In the ascertainment of their anguish there was the justification of a love for them, from their speechless mouths comes a call for resistance, for rebellion, for liberation. And that is why, as their national consciousness is not strong, as the term of Yugoslavism has not developed in them yet, their pain is even stronger: it is the consciousness, that despises them, that brands them without reason, without cause, that they oppress the concept of man in them. Yet theirs is the main feeling, the feeling of shame, that they belong to a common creed unlawful, powerless, weak – and with the sense of the joy of life is mixed some dreary feeling of their own inferiority, a state of neglect before the mighty.

Whatever happened, whatever the fate of this city, I will not complain and I will not pity those, to whom the street corners, the banks, the ships and the warehouses belong. Alongside all of their Yugoslav tricolours, were also the Fiumani, and in their pre-war silence and chivalrousness were hidden the subterfuge and calculating attitude of the merchant, who goes just for the money. I won’t grieve for them nor for the legion of those, who over three lovely autumnal days cheered, sang and carried banners. I will only grieve for the pale little people, as their half-spoken “ča” chokes in the instinctive fear before the sharp glance of contempt and superiority…

Long, difficult months of waiting. Events, attacks, parades. Soldiers, soldiers, soldiers. Italians, French, Americans, English, Indo-Chinese. Ships, automobiles, aeroplanes. Carabinieri, bersaglieri, granatieri. Infantry, sailors, lancers, gunners. Crowded and mixed and multi-coloured. Smugglers, detainees, fugitives. And the inns and basements reverberate and glass shatters and girls scream, and blood, wine and champagne flow. Fiume goes crazy and howls and rages.

Yet that’s what it wanted and so sullenly and so sombrely. Like the shadows we loiter only around the corners and we disappear in the corners. Whilst the sun stings and the truth stings. However, the shame against man stings the most of all, for man, as he oppresses his own brother. Of all these people of various colours and uniforms the most likeable are the Annamese (Vietnamese from the French peacekeeping forces), yellow, silent, mysterious, calm creatures with a sick nostalgia for the East and a blunt lack of understanding for all of this colourful, noisiness and craziness. Why are they here and for what use is the secret, eternal pain for the motherland? The same feeling in them, that they protect us, and in us, that they protect. A feeling of pain, shame, submissiveness, disgrace.

Mornings and afternoons and evenings pass. And nights fall, long nights without sleep, when below the windows the hooves of horses clatter as they pass by, heavy cannons boom, the steps of soldiers reverberate. And the city stays silent and the river stays silent, and the sea, in a troubled uncertainty. Just above the houses glimmer the large, light letters: Viva Fiume italiana! And the shining sign and the shining star, so that the brothers can see on the other bank. And they in despair and hopeless expectancy hide their heads amongst the pillows, so they see nothing, so they hear nothing, so they feel nothing. And everything is dead, rigid, uneasy. And everything is sleepless yet in a dream, without a break, without rest, without peace, without joy.

It just sleeps like a fatigued beast, dreaming maliciously and in that sleep of new bites and stabs, the grey formless masses, Fiume sleeps, a city without soul and without physiognomy.

*******

Sva prava pridržana / All rights reserved.

antun baracAntun Barac (1894 Kamenjak near Crikvenica – Zagreb 1955) was an important literary historian and writer, who was an advocate for the publication of Janko Polić Kamov’s works. In 1917 he established the influential publishing institute ‘Jug’ in Zagreb with other writers. Amongst the books they planned to published was Kamov’s only novel Isušena Kaljuža written from 1906-1909, but this never happened.

Barac spent the unsettled period after the First World War from 1918-1924 in Sušak (the eastern part of today’s Rijeka) working as a professor at the secondary school. During this period he wrote this short, stark, even poetic essay Fiume, in which he describes the unpleasant events and experiences in the city of Rijeka at the time of the arrival of foreign peace-keeping troops whilst the city’s fate was being decided in post-war negotiations, and just upon the eve of the arrival of D’Annunzio and his soldiers. It is interesting to note that Barac was most likely reading the still as yet unpublished manuscript of Kamov’s Isušena Kaljuža during this period and that it may have influenced his writing of Fiume. This text was first published in the journal Njiva in 1919.

Barac was also the originator of the idea to publish a collection of the complete works of Janko Polić Kamov, which finally saw the light of day from 1956-1958, amongst which the novel Isušena Kaljuža was printed for the first time almost 50 years after Kamov wrote it.

Thanks to Igor Žic

Kamov – ‘Isušena kaljuža’ English extracts

Extracts from my work-in-progress translation of Janko Polić Kamov’s revolutionary, modernist novel ‘Isušena kaljuža‘ (working title ‘The Dried Up Mire‘).

These extracts are from the first part of the novel ‘Na dnu‘ (‘At the Bottom‘).

isusena-kaljuza-cover-insetThey set off on a walk. Across the square passed a funeral, a long cortège of men, women and some kind of craftsmen’s guild. The music slowly followed the sad and boring step, under the gloomy sky, on the unbearable Sunday, which had closed the shops, cleaned the marketplace, brought people out for a walk or made them yawn at the windows of their houses. It was after noon. There were people at the side, who were looking blankly at the procession. The colourful robes, both genders, young and old, all with the same looks, which were neither of sadness nor curiosity, but of a kind of long, protracted and half-dead look, that notices nothing, but sees everything. The tolling of bells rang out like somebody’s voices breaking up then returning, sinking and re-merging like a castaway at sea. Arsen stared at the coffin. Behind it there cried one young woman, throwing her head wildly into a handkerchief and twitching her shoulders as though wanting to shake off some burden. One gentleman was reconciling her, but she just shook her head all the more wildly and the sounds like a torn crack came crashing down onto the white coffin and the stinking corpse inside it. “She’s crying” and immediately Arsen wants a young woman to cry for him upon his death too, dressed in black, with red-hot cheeks, and that she throws her head into a handkerchief and touches her tears with her nose. He was moved. He was watching her listening to her sob, captivating, sweet and rich. “Yes, this kind of sobbing…Whilst I would be lying inside damp planks, on which the paint had not yet dried. In gold writing:Arsen Toplek – the people will read and whoever remembers that they knew this man will feel sorry for the dead youth and also for that dark, red-hot woman who cries for him…Even she is young…”

sprovod“No, brother workers! Our struggle will be as peaceful as our conscience. And whoever interferes with our conscience, let them quickly realise, that our conscience is the conscience of millions.” There then erupts shouting and clapping amidst the raised arms, which were flailing around in the smoky light. Arsen, agitated, not being able to handle the feelings of fear and elation that were unconsciously gushing out of him, seizes upon the impression of those arms. To him they seemed blackened and scraggy, bristling like the fingers of a huge beast that would lacerate the world and blow apart existence. The same man continued, raising his voice, as though the past of a destitute old drunkard was emanating from his mouth.
At that moment the police broke down the door with bare sabres and called upon them to “disperse in the name of the law.” Arsen didn’t hear what happened next. Several chairs were knocked over, some glasses were smashed and the restaurant began to empty. Inside a sabre still flashed around as did several bare heads that couldn’t reach the door immediately. Arsen felt a sharp blow to his back, and then the thrust of pale people trembling from anger and fear pushed him outside. Only then did Arsen see two guards striking a woman with their sabres on the other side of the street and shouting something unclear he moved closer. But they immediately left her, because at the other door the guards were still scuffling with the crowd, which was resisting with sticks and offensive shouting.

policesabresprincipTranslated from the original Croatian novel ‘Isušena kaljuža’ written by Janko Polić Kamov (as yet not translated or published in English) by Martin Mayhew

Sva prava pridržana / All rights reserved

*****************************

U potrazi sam za sponzorstvom ili drugim oblikom financijske potpore kao i prikladnog izdavača (za tisak knjige ili e-book verzije) kako bih završio svoj prijevod svih djela Janka Polića Kamova. Na prijevodu sam njegovih djela s hrvatskog na engleski jezik radim od 2012. godine. Tijekom tog procesa stvaram jedinstveni rječnik fraza i arhaičnih riječi koje Kamov koristi u svojim djelima, kao odraz i osobnog autorskog stila ali i vremena u kojem je pisao. Taj bi se rječnik mogao koristiti od strane budućih prevoditelja zainteresiranih za ovo značajno razdoblje hrvatske književnosti.
Molim vas, kontaktirajte me ako ste zainteresirani.

Intervju

I am looking for sponsorship or funding and a suitable publisher (printed or online) in order to complete my translations of all of Kamov’s work. I have been working on translating his works into English since 2012. During this process I am compiling a unique glossary which could be used by future translators interested in this important period of Croatian literature.
You can read more about my work here: interview
Please contact me if you are interested.

More Kamov…

Get more Kamov in English quotes on Twitter

isusena kaljuža

Unusual blue cover…

Janko Polić Kamov – more poetry in English

Janko Polić Kamov’s other collection of poetry ‘Ištipana hartija’ (‘The Pinched Paper’) was published in 1907.

kamov ištipana hartija coverIt featured many more pieces than Psovka with the same themes.
Here is my translation of one short piece ‘Sunce’ (‘The Sun‘)

The Sun
Through the lines, where the flesh is already rotting
and where lie the broken bones,
where agony idiotically laughs
and where the tongue has parched from cursing,
It moves great like a tale of Christ!
And it began to row with a lighter wing
then the wave is strewn with warmth
and the kiss pressed onto the faces I gather,
where the flame of happiness and brightness is faded –
as with the cherub choir of Bethlehem!
And today from lavish bosoms
as the gold that spilled from the hair
and in that moment… the people crawled out
as though the earth from madness had strewn them –
and its breath – as Jehovah’s breath!

The original Croatian language text can be found here:
http://www.kamov.hr/
more Kamov:
Kamov’s short stories in English
Kamov’s novel, Dora Maar and Picasso, Croatian avant garde
More of Kamov’s poetry in English

Janko Polic Kamov signatureU potrazi sam za sponzorstvom ili drugim oblikom financijske potpore kao i prikladnog izdavača (za tisak knjige ili e-book verzije) kako bih završio svoj prijevod svih djela Janka Polića Kamova. Na prijevodu sam njegovih djela s hrvatskog na engleski jezik radim od 2012. godine. Tijekom tog procesa stvaram jedinstveni rječnik fraza i arhaičnih riječi koje Kamov koristi u svojim djelima, kao odraz i osobnog autorskog stila ali i vremena u kojem je pisao. Taj bi se rječnik mogao koristiti od strane budućih prevoditelja zainteresiranih za ovo značajno razdoblje hrvatske književnosti.

Molim vas, kontaktirajte me ako ste zainteresirani.

I am looking for sponsorship or funding and a suitable publisher (printed or online) in order to complete my translations of all of Kamov’s work. I have been working on translating his works into English since 2012. During this process I am compiling a unique glossary which could be used by future translators interested in this important period of Croatian literature.

You can read more about my work here: interview
Please contact me if you are interested.

More Kamov…

Get more Kamov in English quotes on Twitter

Janko Polić Kamov – poetry in English

Janko Polić Kamov had two collections of his poetry published during his short lifetime (1886-1910). ‘Psovka’ (‘The Curse’) in 1907 and ‘Ištipana hartija’ (‘The Pinched Paper’) in 1907.
kamov psvoka cover
‘Psovka‘ contains nine pieces of poetic discourse including themes of blasphemy, love and sex, nature, surrealism, the human condition and basic instincts.
These poems have never been fully translated into English.

Here is my translation of one piece from ‘Psovka‘ entitled ‘Dan mrtvih’.

Day of the Dead

I took a pilgrimage, to the dead, to you and look, my soul is not sorrowful;
my thought is not of despair – oh the universe is not cruel.

I would sing psalms and sadden people;
my accusation would be the charge of nature, and the people would be the guilty;
shy as a prayer, distorted as Christ, holy as the air of the church.
Godly is their fear and headless as a flock of sheep;
it is like the mania of the hungry and the dread of slaves;
fear is their crime and misdoing is their child.

Damp earth, the sun’s rays kiss you and heavenly drops caress you:
woman of milky breasts and secrets of love;
woman of fiery verses and love of a heavenly betrothed.
Divine are your children and green is their name;
joyful are your children and birds are their strings;
fragrant are your children and the breeze is their song;
you are just a village girl and you have no city colours;
full is your body and love is its penchant;
your soul is like a body:
you are all harmony, you are all beauty as eternal truth.

But a man lunged:

your body is beaten and a curse is your blessing;
syphilis of bones and rottenness of the lungs is your sustenance;
a dead member is your love and your cross is green;
decay are your strings and grief is your chord –
tolling are tears – oh dead is your betrothed and your children are worms.

A depository of waste and decay, of man’s great crime;
mute is your accusation, whipped flesh;
bitter is your judgement, violated virgin;
devastating is your tragedy like death and your pain has no measure.
The pen is my trumpet:
dark are your acts, oh you dead;
dark as the love of Socrates and repulsive as the body of an ascetic;
mighty are your misdoings and there is no forgiveness for them;
there is no forgiveness for them and your die has been rolled;

dead are your souls – dead is the resurrection!

The pen is my trumpet and the universe its echo;
eternity smiles – the earth has not died;
the crosses break and time destroys the graves –
wanton is my poem: that the living live!

Milenko Bosanac 5*******

The original Croatian language text can be found at: http://www.kamov.hr/

more Kamov:
Kamov’s short stories in English
Kamov’s novel, Dora Maar and Picasso, Croatian avant garde
More of Kamov’s poetry in English

janko polić kamov signature

Janko Polić Kamov portraitU potrazi sam za sponzorstvom ili drugim oblikom financijske potpore kao i prikladnog izdavača (za tisak knjige ili e-book verzije) kako bih završio svoj prijevod svih djela Janka Polića Kamova. Na prijevodu sam njegovih djela s hrvatskog na engleski jezik radim od 2012. godine. Tijekom tog procesa stvaram jedinstveni rječnik fraza i arhaičnih riječi koje Kamov koristi u svojim djelima, kao odraz i osobnog autorskog stila ali i vremena u kojem je pisao. Taj bi se rječnik mogao koristiti od strane budućih prevoditelja zainteresiranih za ovo značajno razdoblje hrvatske književnosti.

Molim vas, kontaktirajte me ako ste zainteresirani.

I am looking for sponsorship or funding and a suitable publisher (printed or online) in order to complete my translations of all of Kamov’s work. I have been working on translating his works into English since 2012. During this process I am compiling a unique glossary which could be used by future translators interested in this important period of Croatian literature.

You can read more about my work here: interview
Please contact me if you are interested.

More Kamov…

Get more Kamov in English quotes on Twitter

Janko Polić Kamov English extracts

janko polić kamov signatureJanko Polić Kamov portraitSome selected excerpts from my translations of the works of Janko Polić Kamov, the early 20th century, Croatian, pavement writer and poet.

 “I toured the universe and this is where I had to stay forever and I was not in the slightest bit tormented by the thought of when all of this would come to an end, will I find anyone or would I expect any change. So I remained like this for centuries… When I woke up, it was still not midnight.”
Catastrophe (Katastrofa)

“Her smiling eyes, darting wanton looks. She rested them on her lover’s profile like a bird landing on a branch, chirping and then flying away.”
Behold the Man! (Ecce Homo!)

“I became ever more cold and derisive. I would stand in the street and watch the crowds, how they bow, curtsey, dandily, and I was repulsed most by the neat, beautiful and elegant people.”
The Beard (Brada)

“Sweet, good, humble and warm like a small loaf of bread, she warmed my teeth and my heart and her breasts sizzled under my fingers like apples frying in wine…”
The Earthquake (Potres)

“But, oh my! Do I crave female company. It seems to me that it does not make one stupider, as is rightfully claimed, but that it clarifies and invigorates like cognac when you drink it from a small glass.”
The Suit (Odijelo)

“A million incandescent rays, sharp, incisive and thin, pushed themselves into my pores, and there the sky was covered with gold dust and the sea, soft and azure…”
The Village (Selo)

“Your apparition is thus stolen by the twilight and it seems to me that your shadow still trembles on the walls of my little room. And I love that shadow, I look at that shadow, I reach for that shadow.”
Woman (Žena)

“The sun is in the west. Its last flames melt through the drawn curtains. Glowing fragments of something invisible are falling on my head. Visions of molten metals, feelings and images dance in front of me. My eyes are hot, my throat is dry, my back on fire.”
Freedom (Sloboda)

“But one thing I know: I could not cry or kiss my sister now. Everything seems tight, disgusting and unbearable. A forced kiss on the icy face of a corpse – that’s what we all are and that’s what she is. That is our sorrow and that is our love!”
Sorrow (Žalost)

“Occasional wisps of smoke wavered in the air, like fragments of sentences uttered in delirium. The forest and the plain and the Sava and the hills had something feeble and faint about them, like a sick person who has just risen from their bed.”
Bitanga

“And so – spring tapped along on young, breezy, little legs wrapped in shiny stockings. And the forest sprouted leaves like the noses of young girls peeping through a tiny window.”
The Dried Out Mire’ – novel (roman – Isušena Kaljuža)
Never before translated into English

The original Croatian language texts can be found at: http://www.kamov.hr/
more Kamov:
Kamov’s novel, Dora Maar and Picasso, Croatian avant garde
Kamov’s poetry in English
more of Kamov’s poetry in English

**** Coming early 2017 – 12 short stories *****

kamoc shorts stories

You can read more about my work here: interview

More Kamov…

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An original collection Kamov's of novellas and essays. Published in 1938 by Hrvatske Književne Naklade Neovisnih Književnika, Zagreb. Editor Ljubo Wiesner.

An original collection of Kamov’s novellas and essays. Published in 1938 by Hrvatske Književne Naklade Neovisnih Književnika, Zagreb. Editor Ljubo Wiesner. Interesting how the cover has the title in Cyrillic whilst the inside the actual text is in the Latin script.

Illustrations by Milenko Bosanac from 'Janko Polić Kamov by Vladimir Čerina' (1968, Zagreb) A collection of short stories, essays, columns, poems and dramas by Kamov and Čerina.

Illustrations by Milenko Bosanac from ‘Janko Polić Kamov – Vladimir Čerina’ (1968, Zagreb) A collection of short stories, essays, columns, poems and dramas by Kamov and Čerina.

Janko Polic Kamov signature JP Kamov Milenko Bosanac Milenko Bosanac 1 Milenko Bosanac 2 Milenko Bosanac 3 Milenko Bosanac 4 Milenko Bosanac 5Milenko Bosanac 6kamov_čerina back_coverkamov_čerina front_coverU potrazi sam za sponzorstvom ili drugim oblikom financijske potpore kao i prikladnog izdavača (za tisak knjige ili e-book verzije) kako bih završio svoj prijevod svih djela Janka Polića Kamova. Na prijevodu sam njegovih djela s hrvatskog na engleski jezik radim od 2012. godine. Tijekom tog procesa stvaram jedinstveni rječnik fraza i arhaičnih riječi koje Kamov koristi u svojim djelima, kao odraz i osobnog autorskog stila ali i vremena u kojem je pisao. Taj bi se rječnik mogao koristiti od strane budućih prevoditelja zainteresiranih za ovo značajno razdoblje hrvatske književnosti.

Molim vas, kontaktirajte me ako ste zainteresirani.

I am looking for sponsorship or funding and a suitable publisher (printed or online) in order to complete my translations of all of Kamov’s work. I have been working on translating his works into English since 2012. During this process I am compiling a unique glossary which could be used by future translators interested in this important period of Croatian literature.

You can read more about my work here: interview
Please contact me if you are interested.

More Kamov…

Get more Kamov in English quotes on Twitter

Janko Polić Kamov – ‘Isušena Kaljuža’

Kamov Isušena kaljuža

‘Isušena kaljuža’ – rare cover of first edition from 1957

Janko Polić Kamov – ‘Isušena Kaljuža’ (English ‘The Dried Out Mire’)
I am very fortunate to be given an original first edition of this book, intact with its dust jacket – which is very rare to find.
Kamov wrote the manuscript for his novel from 1906-1909, but it was not published until 1957, many years after his death.

In the opinion of many literary critics it is the best Croatian novel ever written.

Isušena Kaljuža

Isušena Kaljuža

Isušena Kaljuža blue cover

isusena kaljuža

Unusual blue cover…

Impressum / imprint details:
Urednik: Vinko Antić
Opremio: Miljenko Stančić
Korektor: Čedo Diminić
Priredio: Dragutin Tadijanović
Izdavačko poduzeće: Otokar Keršovani, Rijeka 1957
Tisak: Novinsko, izdavačko i štamparsko poduzeće “Novi List” – Rijeka

Janko Polić Kamov Članci i feljtoni pisma

Janko Polić Kamov – Članci i feljtoni pisma 1958. Sabrana djela IV, with original dust jacket.

Impressum / imprint details:
Urednik: Vinko Antić
Opremio: Miljenko Stančić
Uredio: Dragutin Tadijanović
Izdavačko poduzeće: Otokar Keršovani, Rijeka 1958
Tisak: Novinsko, izdavačko i štamparsko poduzeće “Novi List” – Rijeka

Information about Kamov:
http://hr.wikisource.org/wiki/Janko_Poli%C4%87_Kamov
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janko_Poli%C4%87_Kamov
http://www.kamov.hr/

JANKO POLIĆ KAMOV – DORA MAAR AND PABLO PICASSO

In Mladen Urem’s book ‘Janko Polić Kamov, Dora Maar i hrvatska avangarda‘ (Janko Polić Kamov, Dora Maar and the Croatian Avant-garde) (ISBN 953-6700-06-9) (2006) one chapter is dedicated to the relationship between Antun Gustav Matoš – a leading Croatian modernist writer and contemporary of Kamov’s – and the architect Josip Marković (1873–1969), the father of Dora Maar – born as Teodora Marković (1907-1997), the painter, photographer and Pablo Picasso’s muse and lover.
For more than 10 years he researched the genealogy of the Marković family; Dora Maar and her father the architect Josip Marković who was the illegitimate son of Kamov’s father Ante Polić and Barbara Marković. The long time friendship between Antun Gustav Matoš and Josip Marković, plus links with the Croatian politician Stjepan Radić reveal a deeper link between Matoš and Janko Polić Kamov. It is most likely that Josip told Matoš the story of his own origins and of his true father, although this would never be acknowledged publicly, various events and correspondence signify the links. From the entire study it can be assumed that in 1903, whilst the young Janko Polić Kamov was demonstrating in Zagreb against the Khuen government he spent several months in prison, where he became acquainted with Stjepan Radić and from him he learnt that he had a half-brother the architect Josip Marković. Janko’s brother Nikola Polić in ‘Iskopinama’ (‘Excavations’)(1953) describes how the young Janko was searching for when and where his father’s martial infidelity took place by correspondence with his parents. Many of the family’s documents and correspondence have been lost, and so it is difficult to reconstruct the actual events which acted formatively on Kamov and his literary work. Nevertheless, everything that is available to us to shows the obvious connections and contact between these people.

Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar (born Teodora Marković) by Man Ray

From this recent research connections between Janko Polić Kamov and Picasso’s lover Dora Maar have been uncovered and the new information has prompted a new analysis of Kamov’s life and works (many of which are semi-autobiographical) clarifying many details from which can be seen that he was one of the most significant writers of his time, about whom, unfortunately, the international audience has had little opportunity to discover.

Between the two world wars the works of Janko Polić Kamov were rarely printed. Initially these were his Sabrana djela – Collected Works (including his novel Isušena kaljuža’ – ‘The Dried Out Mire’, written from 1906-1909) and printed for the first time in 1956-1958.
Only in the last 20 years has he gained international recognition and his works have been translated into other languages: English, German, Italian, Spanish, Catalonian and French. The novel ‘Isušena kaljuža’ – ‘The Dried Out Mire’ has been translated and published into Italian and should soon be published in German but has never been translated into English.

More about Kamov and Dora Maar here (in Croatian).

Mladen Urem author, editor, publisher and literary critic in Rijeka – Croatia.
More about Dora Maar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dora_Maar

more Kamov:
Kamov’s short stories in English
Kamov’s poetry in English
More of Kamov’s poetry in English

You can read more about my work here: interview

More Kamov…

Get more Kamov in English quotes on Twitter

A modern edition published by Večernji list in 2004 ISBN 953-7161-07-2

isušena-kaljuža

Kamov statue in Rijeka

The City of Rijeka erected a statue of its famous pavement writer – Janko Polić Kamov.

janko polić kamov postage stamp

In 2010 the Croatian post office (Hrvatska pošta) issued a series stamps featuring eminent Croatian writers, composers etc. The 3 kuna 10 lipa stamp commemorated the 100th anniversary of Kamov’s death.

U potrazi sam za sponzorstvom ili drugim oblikom financijske potpore kao i prikladnog izdavača (za tisak knjige ili e-book verzije) kako bih završio svoj prijevod svih djela Janka Polića Kamova. Na prijevodu sam njegovih djela s hrvatskog na engleski jezik radim od 2012. godine. Tijekom tog procesa stvaram jedinstveni rječnik fraza i arhaičnih riječi koje Kamov koristi u svojim djelima, kao odraz i osobnog autorskog stila ali i vremena u kojem je pisao. Taj bi se rječnik mogao koristiti od strane budućih prevoditelja zainteresiranih za ovo značajno razdoblje hrvatske književnosti.

Molim vas, kontaktirajte me ako ste zainteresirani.

I am looking for sponsorship or funding and a suitable publisher (printed or online) in order to complete my translations of all of Kamov’s work. I have been working on translating his works into English since 2012. During this process I am compiling a unique glossary which could be used by future translators interested in this important period of Croatian literature.

You can read more about my work here: interview

More Kamov…

Get more Kamov in English quotes on Twitter

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