WORDS & PICTURES
Vladimir Devidé - Nada Žiljak
Dipl. Ing. Rikardu Bariću,
Dr. Draženu Gorjanskom,
Dr. Franji Jugu i
Dipl. Oec. Ivanu Šimunoviću
Haibuni : riječ i slika / Vladimir
Devidé ; < ilustracije > Nada Žiljak.
- Zagreb : FS, 1997. - 79 str. : ilustr.
u bojama ; 27 cm
FOREWORD AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This book consists of haibun from my book “Bijeli cvijet” (White Flower), 1988 and 1994, and some haibun published later in Japanese, American and Croatian literary magazines.
Unlike the earlier versions, the haibun are accompanied here by illustrations, for which I am most grateful to Mrs Nada Žiljak, who never tired listening to my explanations concerning the circumstances under which they were written. The pictures not only give the writing a new dimension, but enable the motivation and the message of these haibun of mine to have a greater richness and transparency than is achievable in words alone.
Also, I must express my thanks to all those in Croatia, Slovenia and Japan who, in the encounters I have had with them during the past half century, provided the material for these haibun.
Furthermore, I am grateful to all the staff of the FS Printing Company, without whose professional work the appearance of this book would be very different.
Finally, my gratitude is due to Viąnja and Graham McMaster, who kindly read through my manuscript, suggesting improvements in wording that will make my message more easily available to the English reader.
Zagreb, May 1997.
|VLADIMIR DEVIDÉ was born in Zagreb on May 3rd, 1925. B.Sc. (Civil Engineering), 1951 and Sc.D. (Mathematics),1956. Retired Full Professor of the University of Zagreb and Full Member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
Post-doctoral studies in Israel (1960) and in Japan (1961 - 1963).
Visiting Professor at Monash University, Australia (1968) and Ohio State University in Columbus, USA (1971). Participated in numerous international mathematical congresses and symposia. Croatian”Ruđer Bošković” Prize for Scientific Achievement (1965), Prize of the City of Zagreb (1982), “Le Prix CIDALC”(1977), and the Japanese Order of the Sacred Treasure (1983).
In the field of mathematics he has published 40 scientific papers and about 200 essays and articles, and held some 60 public lectures about results of his scientific work. He has published 15 books on mathematics.
In the field of Japanology and literature he has published more than 200 essays and articles in Croatian, American, Japanese, German, etc., literary journals and magazines, as well as 16 books.
|NADA ŽILJAK was born in Zagreb in 1944 into a family of painters. She completed her course at the Fine Arts Academy in Zagreb in 1967, and her special studies course in 1970. She is a free-lance artist. She works in many techniques: oil on canvas and paper, drawings, water colours, pastels, graphics, etchings, linocut.
Many publications have appeared about her work; a monograph of drawings in 1995, and a monograph written by Đuro Vanđura in 1993. Monographs about her water colours and etchings are in the press. Her works are to be found in many of the world’s museums and in private collections. She has had over thirty independent exhibitions in Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany and Ukraina.
While we are lying in the grass, and before we fall asleep, the blades of green are right up close to us,
and far beyond them are the blue mountains.
There are pebbles lying on the ground,
scattered in the grass, insects are moving
along the blades of grass, and there are little
flies flitting among them, right up close.
The distant mountains are covered with woods,
and there are cities spread out at the foot of the
mountains - the people live and work there.
Distant, endlessly distant.
There is nothing between the imminent grass and
the distant mountains, nothing at all between
the two. The mountains carry on from the grass,
the mountains are in the grass, the mountains are grass. The blades of grass are trees in the distant
mountains, while the pebbles upon the earth are distant cities.
The insects and the flies in the grass are the
people of the distant cities and the century
old pine upon the mountain top is a slender
blade of grass,
this one here, that points right up to the sky.
Lying in the grass -
there is nothing before
the distant mountains.
They sail the sky, the clouds, and vanish and
reappear like souls, like thoughts and like loves.
Thoroughly white and soft, clean, they are the
roof upon the house of the birds, unconscious of themselves, living and dying in a wonder, in exultation, placid, for they have seen the life
upon the earth.
When they are high above pain and above joy, when they are so high that everything they see is utterly tiny, like toys, they gather and divide, fill the voids and clear the spaces. Always changing, from moment to moment, always the same, ever since times long before the pharaohs.
But when the clouds grieve, when they have
a painful decision to take, grave, dark, before
they burst into tears, they sit down in the
shade below the Sun, deeply in thoughts,
and then there is silence.
descend upon the earth:
how dismal it is.
Sky spread above a net of branches: from mats of clouds, along fields sown with stars, the rain drifts down. Damp sparks swarm around the lamp.
They glisten in the hair - among the black
threads, before the curtain of the night - ash
of burnt-out pearls.
If only the drops would not slide from
the eye-lashes! When looking through
them, every one scatters into a hundred
sparks that fly around: a veil of silver
flies wanders among the stars.
The eyes - for ever, warm stars, in
splinters of scattered autumn:
How lovely it is
to look at cherished eyes
through drops of rain -
- through drops of rain on eyelashes.
A violent whirlwind is driving dark and heavy clouds before it. Its cry can be heard when it shivers tree trunks, its yell when it breaks against the hills. This heavenly demon falls upon the forests and fields, it shakes its liberated Titan’s fists. The runaway giant breaks its chains, foam on its mouth, and hurries headlong into the valleys to smash and crush them. The lightning is its look, the thunder is the blow
of its fist.
Arriving at the mountains opposite it falls
upon them like a wounded beast. The hills
tear it apart - where can it go, what can
it do, what can it destroy? It begins to totter;
its blows are less frequent, its roar is muffled.
It falls. They have killed it.
Crash of the thunder
hurtled headlong, dead,
from sky to earth.
And having thus fallen, the whirlwind bursts into tears, and big drops of rain begin peacefully to fall to bring to life the grass and wash the wounds of the shattered branches. It calms down and falls asleep, washed by the warm tears. Everything is quiet, and the birds and the crickets are still. Time itself has halted in respect, at the death of the broken giant.
Once, while walking by the road, past cut hay, I saw in the distance a girl with lank flaxen hair; with loose lank hair like water overflowing a round white stone in the mountain brook whenever there is heavy rain or in spring when snow is melting on the surrounding hills.
I do not know whether she was beautiful; I just
saw her big blue eyes for a moment.
I never saw her again, but in my thoughts I looked for a long, long time, day and night, at the girl with lank flaxen hair.
Over a round stone
water of a mountain brook
- a girl’s hair.
I would like to pick some blue flowers from the
meadow to weave them into the flaxen hair;
flowers of forget-me-not and blue bell-flowers.
Where is she now, that girl with flaxen hair? In the Milky Way there is still only a reflection of her hair. But there are some blades of it in the golden straw
of ripe corn. Just one lock is still overflowing that round stone in the mountain brook, whenever it is pierced by a ray of the setting Sun bursting through the pine-trees.
The cry of the grouse is a song of love -
- a cry of the grouse in a forest, among
And the chirping of the cricket is a song of love -
- the chirping of the cricket on the
plough-land, after rain.
And the fluttering of the butterfly is a song of love -
- the fluttering of the butterfly; its wings in
And the scent of flowers is a song of love -
- the scent of flowers in a field, after sunset.
And the blue of the sky is a song of love -
- the blue of the sky in the sky and beyond
And the whispering of a prayer is a song of love -
- the whispering of a prayer in a chapel.
And love itself is a song of love -
- a love-song about a song of love.
It is evening, dusk -
we walked across a meadow,
They descend from the sky to console the Earth Ñ
countless drops of rain: they spread their veils in front
of distant mountains in order to allow us to dream
The autumnal rain has washed the autumnal
flowers and autumnal grass and the leaves of
autumn and now, silently whispering, it takes
its leave, contented and gratified. And every
drop of rain carries with it its light and its
melancholy and carries the colours of autumn
and washes away from the soul its anxiety and
discontent and continues to carry with it the
light and the melancholy.
of autumn Ñ lying on the path
wet with rain.
Suns are shining in the eyes and scattering in droplets
on the web of hair, into other eyes, and everywhere
around Ñ on the ground, on the bare trees and on the
sky, among the stars.
And it is night already, and the rain is still glittering,
wiping away the difference between light and
darkness and wiping away time and wiping away
space. Each single drop, each individual drop:
worlds are reflected in it.
Suns in the eye.
Spring morning. A blue butterfly cut out of the
sky is fluttering around the yellow dandelion - returning to the Sun. Carried by spring, it is
A blue butterfly!
I caught it by its wings
- and let it go.
Summer noon. At the turn of the road, by the brook along the border of a clear puddle, by soaked pebbles and wet leaves from last autumn, fleshy stems are growing and leathery leaves and metallic flowers: petals of golden leaflets and stamens of golden powder and thin golden wires.
Golden flowers -
not a single one
shall I pluck.
Autumn evening. The last rays of the setting Sun fight their way through the leaves of the vine. The oak-stump covered by moss, and the eagle high above the spring keep the secret of the mountain.
Sunlight through leaves
of autumn: yellow, golden,
Winter night. Ice needles in the black sky. The shadows in the moonlight are of blue steel.
Resinous boughy branches are smouldering in the fire-place.
gliding down. Granny
closing her eyes.
A straight, dusty road. Nearby, children are building a mud-house. Geese are crossing the road in a line. Far off, an ancient school bus is coming.
The bus horn sounds -
I know perfectly well that the bus itself, not the driver, is sounding the horn.
A meadow in the forest is surrounded by trees. Children are running all over the place, trying to catch each other.
of children crossing
the green fields.
- And a bit further
A puppy runs
Huts at the edge of the forest. In one garden, a little girl strokes the hen she is carrying.
“I like cheesecake best”,
she said, “and bread
spread with dripping.”
In front of a house in Tokyo, visited by foreign
sailors, there stands a girl selling violets.
Her elder sister is inside (the father died in an
accident and their brother is studying at the
University, so he cannot earn enough).
Today, it is not sailors who have come (they are
rough, disgusting, and chew gum - but anyway,
they pay and leave some chocolate or cigarettes).
Today, some football players have come from a
small far-off country in Europe.
In their home country, they are rather popular:
newspapers write about them and print their
photographs, which young girls cut out and
keep in their notebooks or place in front of
their TV sets - even in the countryside.
They are drunk. When they have all had a go, the
elder sister faints. One of the football players tries to wake her up with brandy, but fails. Then the players make off, without paying, drinking what remains of
The girl is still waiting for her sister; it is cold
and raining, but she cannot return home
alone. She does not know yet that today her
elder sister will bring her no chocolate.
In the rain-drenched night,
a girl is selling
MOTHER AND DAUGHTER
Upstairs in the room the mother puts away white
linen and clothing in a white wardrobe for her
daughter; carefully, neatly, whitely.
Carefully put by
in a white wardrobe:
dowry for her daughter.
Downstairs, in the garden, the daughter is picking poppies.
In a simple dress, cleaning the path, she is the
queen of flowers and butterflies. She walks
barefoot on the earth, the grass, goddess of
the earth and grass. She ate a peach, and cast
away the pit - the mistress of the fruit, the
sun and sky. She is the mistress, the queen
and goddess, from earth to sky.
With her hands
she picks the ripened poppies and casts them in the basket.
While the white bed-linen sleeps in the white
wardrobe, the daughter has spread her arms and
hair above the garden, and while the moonshine bleaches the linen, the daughter knits the sun
from her hair.
Tired, infinitely tired, I watched you gathering apples, fallen during the storm; wet apples from
the wet sand in the courtyard;
tired, I watched you hanging out the linen: white, clean, only just washed;
tired, I watched you carrying milk through the
fields from the neighbouring village -
I do know that I shall never be able to say
anything to you - but this does not grieve
me: your presence is the presence of
I do know that I shall never be able to touch
your hand or stroke your hair - but it does
not grieve me: your hair is the blue spring
and your hand is a white angel;
I do know that I shall have to leave and go
back much sooner than you - but it does
not grieve me:
you will be in your fields and meadows, in your mountains -
Meadow: a green,
yellow, white, blue,
EVENING IN A COLD ROOM
An unheated room. Outside there is a cold
wind blowing, and it’s pouring with rain.
A white enamelled jug is full of water.
Through the attic window:
down the leaves of the apple tree
the rain drips.
A girl in a blue apron brings a cup of milk.
A thick, heavy, warm ceramic cup.
When she walks up
the wooden staircase
- the sounds of her steps.
The shower stops. A haze arises from
the lawn. The hot milk steams from the
thick cup - and on the top there is a skin
with yellowish rings.
The church calls to vespers, the bell rings,
then again, a whole shower of sounds.
The broad meadow
submerged in the ringing.
I still hear her voice.
The wind died down. The sky is covered
with clouds. In one spot a dim pale star
flickers, a drop of milk in the twilight.
No longer is the trunk of the apple tree
under the window lit up - the girl in the blue
apron is already perhaps sleeping.
An evening breeze -
the blue hills float -
WHITE AND BLUE
The mountains were still scattered with snow petals,
and the meadows already covered by daisy flakes.
From the mountain tops whiteness ran into the
valleys, into milking pails.
The lawns were full of forget-me-nots, drops of a
shower from the clear sky. Her eyes, as well, were
Blue is the sky,
blue the forget-me-not,
blue are the eyes.
At the edge of the mountain, white snow met with
blue sky, and in the grass, white daisies and blue
forget-me-nots. Rings of blue irises sailed in
How should I forget her, when I know that she
looked out of every forget-me-not, that she
stood by every fir-tree and sat on every stone,
that she sang from every bird and shone from
every star and danced with every midge
from the cloud above the lake!
of the blue dusk: her eyes -
the mass of silence.
In the centre of the yard there is a barberry bush.
In the shade of the boughs she had once planted some cyclamen from the near forest. They flowered every year. Afterwards I too brought some cyclamen and planted them next to hers.
Many autumns later, I came back again, but there were no more cyclamen.
- Your cyclamen don’t flower any more?
- There’s too little light here now... There
was one of yours too.
That evening the clover fields were greener, the clouds were higher, the shadow of the mountains deeper; for she had said that “There was one of yours too” somewhat quieter.
and red cyclamen.
He worked in a certain consulate in Tokyo, but
introduced himself to Japanese girls as “Jean-Paul,
a French pilot”.
- I met, he said, a lovely high school girl.
She is learning English, works a great deal,
understands much, but still, she says, wants
conversation. “Nothing easier”, I said, “come to
my place and we’ll have some conversation.”
And she comes round my place the same
afternoon; she bought a new notebook, a new
rubber and a sharpened pencil. She means to
learn English! “You really are a bit daft,” I
said to her, in our language, and I shoved her
down, and started to undress her, and she
struggled, wriggled, kicked like a filly, shouted,
cried, yelled for her mother to help. But I was
just that bit stronger. She was a virgin. Even
afterwards she was still snivelling and wailing
and could hardly get up, and went away. She
picked up her new notebook and rubber and
sharpened pencil, and sloped off without
saying good-bye. And yet they say what
nice manners the Japanese have.
Great God! You, who forgive us all... You would forgive him too.
That perhaps is precisely where your greatness lies,
that you would forgive even him...
But ... how can you?
The girl walks away
with her new notebook -
all in tears.
A white flower is a drawing of a white kiss, its
scent is the scent of black hair:
like hundreds of wood anemones scattered
under black trees they evanesce in the black
hair - hundreds of white kisses.
White flowers are growing on the slopes of
mountains; their tops are clad in white snow,
below white clouds -
- drowned in the black night, black kisses
are weaving in and out of, straying in, the
Come, let us overfly the black forest towards the meadows, to the spring where snow is melting:
out of its white flakes white petals of wood
anemones are growing - now, in this black
night among white stars.
Black pine-trees cast white shadows to
hide white wood anemones. Needles will
entangle your black hair, they will confine
in it white kisses.
Look: do you see down there a black brook
running - undulating locks of black hair.
And listen: do you hear the white roaring of
the stag, how it resounds from the black rock?
by white wood anemones -
Early in the morning I received a paper flower in a letter from her. If you put this kind of flower in water it will swell and blossom, just like a real one.
How many times I have wanted to put it into
water. But I have never been able to bring myself
to do so. I knew that once in the water it would soon perish.
I still keep it. I see in it the girl who sent it to me, and I want it to remain a bud for ever.
Occasionally I feel pangs of conscience. Hasn’t an eternal bud died without ever being born? Has it any kind of life?
A paper flower,
light blue in colour,
with slender petals.
Night has already fallen; soon I shall go to bed.
The closer the moment comes, the harder it is for me: I do not know, I really never know, whether
or not to put the paper flower in water before I
go to sleep.
A small pine forest, sand. Country women with rakes
are picking out tiny pale greyish-brown mushrooms called pine dew.
Closed eyelids: a curved line, like the wings
of a seagull in flight. Below: the blue sea,
fishermen. The women are spreading out and
drying wakame, a seaweed.
- Look, a forget-me-not.
A hill: a roof-tile factory - the stoves burn night and day, firing glazed clay. Black and red tiles shine upon the roofs as if they had just been washed by the rain.
- Why... why do we love each other so
The shore-line turns, bends and straightens out. It’s followed by the sea, the seaweed and shells left by
the tide; sand, pine trees.
When the rain falls it is absolutely quiet. It drips
gently down the shining tiles.
All night long, the endless hair: black waves of
hair and sea; the scent of hair, pines, sea.
- Zutto ishoni - always together;
always, always together.
Along the narrow path are little shrines for Jizo the merciful. Rice fields and camellias. An old woman with a load of sticks.
- Are you happy? Do you like it here?
Two children are dragging their heavy satchels.
Only slow trains stop here in Tsunozu. The others
hurry through, and do not stop until Hamada.
The kitchen: mushrooms, vegetables, seaweed nori, fish, oranges. Gifts of the mountain, gifts of the sea.
- I’ll come back as soon as I wash the
dishes. I shall bring the tea.
The skin of the neck is soft and silky -
the blood beats, the heart, the whole girl,
everything in the world.
Not far from here, five hundred years ago the great master Sesshu lived. In a garden that he established, there is still a pine growing in the shape of a crane,
and under the moss are still to be seen stones in the shape of a turtle; symbols of long life.
The skin of the neck is soft and silky -
the blood beats, the heart, the whole girl,
everything in the world.
They say that the oldest pine in Tsunozu was planted more than a thousand years ago by the poet Kakinomoto no Hitomaro. Some of his lines are carved in a stone near the pine, asking the hill of Takatsunoyama, the high hill of Tsunozu, to move aside, for it blocked his view of his wife
who was staying there.
The skin of the neck is soft and silky - the
blood beats, the heart, the whole girl,
everything in the world.
sand - the sea-gull
under black hair.
STREAMS OF WHITE DOTS
A narrow stream of white smoke is winding,
ascending as it fades away, towards the ceiling.
A slender lock of dark hair drops, and runs down
the temple, the cheek, the neck and scatters in
the dimple below the collar bone.
In the room, below the window, there is the
horizontal rectangle of the white bed. Opposite
the window rises the vertical rectangle of the
wall of the next door building.
Flower-pots of red, pink and white blossoms are ranged on the balcony. When the soil they are growing in dries up in the sun and they are watered, they drink the water as ardently as lips kisses, and the water that overflows the flower-pots trickles down the concrete railing which comes to life with new colours.
The ground in front of the house is covered with the small yellow globules of fallen linden flowers, and in the yellow there is one, just one red petal, fallen from the verandah.
He knows that when, looking at the flowers,
Vesna said: “Look at us, look at us how
beautiful we are!” it was not Vesna who
said it but the flowers themselves.
Outside, the rain prays, forgives, blesses, smiles, understands, knows... It bathes the leaves, kisses
the flowers, caresses the walls... They give it joy, it gives them joy; delight, peace.
When Vesna smiles, dense streams of white
dots flow across the lines of her face by her
eyes. One runs from left to right, another from
right to left. They come together and disperse,
countless white dots. (They are children of
stars.) He sees them, he sees them more
strongly and more certainly than the very
eyes from which they spring, and he knows
that he sees them, and knows how it is that
he sees them, that it is Truth.
Look at us, look at us, how beautiful
Children of the stars
flowing between the eyes:
He fell in love with her not only because she was very beautiful. Sure enough, he was impressed by her intelligence too, for just as a homely and simple woman has her charm and beauty, so does a really clever one. But there was something else as well, something far beyond that, which made him fall in love with her.
However, he saw that there were others who loved her as much and who had more right to love her since they had more ability, as it is simplifyingly said, to make her happy.
And so he never told her that he loved her, but
was content of a rainy evening, with his umbrella
lowered down to his nose so she could not recognize him, to wait some place where he thought she might pass on her way to supper, just to see her for a moment as she passed by.
When, many years later, he met her with her
daughter, who one could already see would
be as beautiful as her mother, they talked for a
while and took a walk. He showed her a letter,
from her - the only one she had ever written
to him - which he had kept all those years as
something especially precious since each
single letter in it was hers.
On the last page
of the letter, words awoken
from their dreams.
When they parted and when, with a small
souvenir she bought him, he passed by a green meadow full of dandelions in flower, thousands of them shone like small suns: they were in fact suns, and then he knew, he knew perfectly well, that if the kind of thing one was thinking of when one said “happiness” existed at all, then it was the kind of happiness that you have when you see that someone whom you have once loved very, very much is happy, even if you yourself are completely unhappy.
Reginald Horace Blyth writes somewhere that Suzuki Daisetz replied to the question of what would happen to him when he died: “I think I shall go out of existence -
but the desire for a future life is also a fact.”
Desire is also reality when, gathering chamomile flowers, he wishes she were with him, is in him like the flowers
he sees and the scent he can smell:
Little yellow chunks: Red lips:
five hundred flowers a hundred kisses
in a single cup
Very little suns with white beams. If he looks at
them more closely, he can see that the nuclei of the
young flowers are little cones, of the mature flowers
hemispheres, and of the older ones something like tiny little haystacks.
Flos chamomillae - Eyes, lips, neck -
All the forms of nature
in the same face
They sail through her hair, mingle with it in him and mix their scent with hers.
The scent of chamomile The breath of her hair
is woken by the memory
of the breath of her hair of the scent of chamomile
He gathers the flowers on his knees, and behind them is the blue sky, unusually blue for October, and the leaves
of the flowers mix with her eyelashes and the yellow
flower with the black pupil of the eye.
The gentle scent The light outline
of chamomile of her face
vanishes in the twilight
When he breaks off a flower, the whole of the clump to which it belongs rocks, and together with her breasts it breathes the unusually warm air of the early October afternoon.
Scattered in the grass
the soothing flowers through her eyes
caress the dream the whole world
He can no longer tell the difference between her face and the chamomile flowers. Both of them have sunk deeply into him, and if he were to try to recall just one of them, he would find something new that was both flower and face but neither of them.
of the flower’s face of the face’s flower
While still a young man, he was an admirer of
ancient Egyptian art; and so, much later, as he was visiting Germany, he went to see that department in the State Museums of (then) West Berlin.
The longest period of time - several hours - he spent in a room where, in a protective plexiglass box, a sculpture of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti
was exhibited. It was possible to walk around it and look at it from all directions, from every angle; the perfectly shaped elegant portrait then showed always more and more details and fine points. But he was particularly fascinated by the following: if he looked
at Nefertiti’s head “en face” from a slightly elevated position downwards, it embodied a mild and tender femininity; but when he looked at the same head
“en face” from a slightly lowered position upwards,
it was a portrait of a self-confident, proud, perhaps even somewhat haughty queen. However, it was
not only the head that showed both the superb
craftsmanship of the artist and the beauty of the
model; this was also evinced by Nefertiti’s neck. Slightly aslant, connecting the body with the head,
it was somehow the decisive link between the
material and the spiritual; marvellously modelled,
it mirrored both the warm womanly complexion
and the refinement of her spirit.
a proud queen
and a tender woman.
Again many years later, he often met a lady whose neck was like that of Nefertiti. One day she came
in a pullover with a wide neckline that displayed
all the curves through which it turned into the
body. She had cut her hair rather short, so that the transition of neck into head was clearer than ever. Indeed, this was Nefertiti’s neck, or, Nefertiti’s neck was a sculpture of her neck as if Rodin (whom
some people, because of the realism of some of his
sculptures, have accused of using castings) might
have modelled it.
The living neck of that lady was so alive that not
even hundreds of kisses could enfold it, nor
hundreds of gentle touches envelop with such
caressing as to melt the whole of it away.
along the curve of the neck
- and evanesce.
And when he had gone away, on his lips still for a long time there hovered the warm skin of that lady’s neck - and when it was night already and when he dreamed about what cannot be attained in reality, Nefertiti’s neck, modelled several millennia ago, still radiated along his lips the warmth of the living neck of that beautiful lady.
Remembering her neck
heats to a glow his lips,
swirls dreams’ yearnings.
KISS UPON THE EYE
Your eye is the eye of all girls from all countries and
all times - all that is contained in it, all that is only a
part of it, and it is not just that it, your eye, is a part of
all that, of all those eyes.
...to kiss your eye, when the eye-lashes are bedewed
with just a few drops of rain! With the warmth of
the kiss the drops gently evanesce into the milky,
half-transparent mist which makes your eye still
softer and still more dazzling.
A kiss upon
the eye - wet
...to kiss your eye, in whose pupil the reflection of
the stars is strewn. From the light of the kiss the
radiance of all the millions of stars glitters into new millions of stars, which makes your eye still richer
and still more gorgeous.
A kiss upon
the eye - sprinkled
...to kiss your eye in a full, warm darkness when
from it there pours the thickness of a tropical night,
a thickness neither light, nor sound, nor scent can penetrate! From the darkness of the kiss, the eye is
darker still. Everything disappears, everything is
effaced, everything and forever, and what remains
is only your eye with a kiss upon it.
A kiss upon
the eye - white-hot
... to kiss your eye, while watching there the fluttering
of the blue and white butterflies that are born from
the kiss. How they flit from one eye to the other, how
they dance, like ballet dancers, in pairs, in groups, in swarms, in flocks....How they fly from the eye, and
once again fly into it, dive into its abysses, become
ever tinier the deeper they descend, and then, when
they emerge again from the depths, become bigger
and bigger the closer they approach, big as a swan,
as the sail of a boat, gigantic as the curtain of light in
the sky of a polar night.
A kiss upon
the eye - the fireworks
MAY SCENT OF PETALS FROM APPLE TREES IN
When during a clear morning gold is bursting out
from azure, her smile is glistening in the dew on the
petals of the apple blossom.
Smiles on petals -
on each single one
an armful of smiles.
Then, when at noon a breeze is lightly blowing, her
smile dances among the fragrant petals that, like warm snow, flutter through the branches of the apple trees.
Dance of butterflies,
smiles and flowers
of apple trees.
And when dusk descends, her smile rings out from
the church towers; then, like warm milk, it brims
over fields and meadows, pouring into the brook
sprinkled with the petals of apple trees.
On the brook,
covered with petals,
her smiles twisting.
At nightfall, her smile embraces dreams, soars towards
a sky filled with star-flakes.
Flakes in the sky -
her smiles are stars
upon the earth.
Why does the whisper of her caresses, like some soft
touch of a fluttering petal, awake the sleeping and
lull to sleep the waking?
A petal’s kiss
is just the same as
a kiss’s petal.
Her dreamy embraces are sliding along lips, kissing
cheek and neck, like a whirlpool of apple tree petals gushing from her eyes, her lips, down her breasts,
pouring onto arms, over chest, disappearing in abysses.
The meadow sprinkled with
petals - the body overwhelmed
Never, it seems, will her caresses cloy. He would
like there to be more kisses than there are petals on
one kiss - each kiss
When all her flowers are in full bloom, spring will reign where petals come back to the branches and scattered kisses to lips; the scent of apple blossom will be washed and bathed by the prayers of embraces.
Petals’ colour is
kisses’ scent. Kisses’ colour
is petals’ scent.
I would like to kiss your lips gently and softly as -
in the moonlight - the shadow of a fluttering moth glides over and caresses the closed petals of a wild red poppy.
The breath of a kiss
corners of the lips.
I would like to caress your hair and neck with the fingers of both my hands - as a sculptor, when moulding the head of a white angel, touches the yielding, warm and moist, soft clay.
Fingers in the hair,
hair between the fingers:
fingers and hair.
I would like to rest my cheek upon your breast as peacefully and silently as a sleeping child, who in
his mother’s lap, droplets of milk still upon its lips, dreams of floating among the stars.
The cheek against the breast:
breast caressing cheek,
cheek caressing breast.
I would like my limbs to be entwined with yours like hair in a plait, like tendrils of wisteria twined around the white columns of a villa’s marble palisade.
liana of arms and legs -
I would like to see you through the pupils of your eyes, listen to your heartbeat, breath the scent of
your breath, embrace and caress the valleys and mounds of your body, merge with it, melt and
disappear into it.
Sound, fragrance, colour,
taste of a warm kiss;
Foreign soldiers are leading a group of people
To forced labour, to prison or to the firing
Soldiers with guns on their shoulders, in boots.
Some of those being led away give up. If
anyone stops, he is executed.
The soldiers are commanded by an officer on
A boy is going along the road. He has a piece
of bread in his hand. He looks at the soldiers.
At the people being led away.
A soldier hits a woman who has seen her husband
(or her brother?) with his rifle butt.
The boy manages to give a man the piece of
The column disappears in the dust.
The dark-skinned boy
goes merrily along the road:
he has succeeded.
Ya-chan was a little girl from a village close to Hakata, on the island of Kyushu.
- When I came back home with daddy it
was already late. The door of the house was
locked. Mummy was asleep. We decided
not to wake her.
We sat in the garden. It was a nice warm
night. We looked at the beautiful full Moon
and listened to the buzzing of the cicadas.
How nice it was!
We didn’t so much as doze off. The night
went fast. When my mother woke up and
opened the window, she saw us sitting on
“Oh, how crazy you are, both you and
- But she didn’t really mean it and we
were very happy.
Father and daughter
listening to the cicadas.
A harvest Moon.
In the shadow of the arcades, the last islands from the mounds of shovelled snow are melting away. Morning
is relieved by night, winter by spring, and
On the tombstone
over dry moss
green young ivy.
Primroses have sprung up on one of the mounds.
A procession of a few people is following a small coffin - a child’s; in the procession, immediately behind the coffin, another child is walking (a brother?).
Together with birds’
chirping, the stamping of clay
onto the small coffin.
The sunshine, fighting its way through the clouds,
is only luke-warm.
* * * * *
In summer, people come here just for a stroll. The shade is pleasant in the alleys under the horse-chestnut trees.
In front of the mortuary a crowd is paying its last
farewell to some dignitary. A brass band; wreaths;
speeches. The bell at the entrance to the cemetery
rings for a long time, until the whole procession
has gone in. Those at the rear cannot hear the
speeches over the grave. On the way back, some
of those wearing black suits loosen their ties. The
heat is oppressive.
of the stone over the grave
scorching from the sun.
golden letters of the tombstone
glittering in the sun.
* * * * *
The tombs are covered with ripe, shiny, brown
horse-chestnuts. Here and there dead leaves have
been swept into mounds.
I remember when I was going away once, not
knowing whether I would return, my father’s
tear-stained cheeks were cold in the evening
of creepers - chrysanthemums
An old woman is carrying a tin-can full of
water. Autumn is the season of evening -
Shaking a leaf
off his coat - the sexton
shuts the cemetery gate.
* * * * *
Dense curtains are descending. Under the flaky
eiderdowns the angular monuments are rounded; the
silence slowly flows. The branches from which the
snow has fallen are blacker than ever.
On the polished marble,
on the stubble of the mound -
the same candle, the same flame.
Along the path among the graves, a tractor takes away
rotted flowers and wreaths that have been collected.
And at night...
In the moonlight:
Snow on the arcades,
mounds of indigo.
*Mirogoj is the main cemetery in Zagreb
ALL SOULS’ DAY
The river of buses smoothly brought in a river of
travellers, a crowd of the living to be the guests of the dead.
At the entrances
to the graveyard a review of candles
Some buy any bunch of flowers; others search at
length where they are cheaper. Some have brought flowers with them, or from the neighbour’s garden. A mighty throng.
On the day of the dead
the paths of Mirogoj1
teem with the living.
The torrents of people flood down in the direction of the Big Cross to light candles for those who are not buried here -
A sea of little flames
by the Big Cross - a starry
sky upon the earth.
And the seemingly countless graves, stretching away into infinity on all sides, nearly all of them with their flowers and candles.
A little grave,
a slender candle - a big grave,
a thick candle.
And yet, some graves are visited by no one. Perhaps the descendants have forgotten their ancestors, or
there are no descendants any more. According to the regulations of the Graveyard Administration, graves
for which the annual fees are not paid are dug up
and sold - ostensibly because they are untidy and disfigure the cemetery. Here, in a pile of excavated ground, right in the middle of a big clod, is a molar with a filling.
A dug up
neglected grave - no one
has paid the fee.
In another place there is a well-known bust:
A carnation on
the poet’s grave - somebody
Returning from the world of the dead to the world
of the living, a long line of people get into the buses in front of the mortuary. The conductors hurry them along, pointing at the ticket stamping machines.
If you don’t have a ticket, you have to buy one outside the bus so as not to hold up the driver.
The occasional hardly audible sound of the organ in the great chapel at the entrance to the cemetery still makes its way gently out.
1Zagreb’s main graveyard
2One of Šenoa’s novels is "The Carnation from the Poet’s Grave"
Under the parabolic monument that stands in the place where the atomic bomb fell in Hiroshima is
a stone with the inscription:
Let the mistake never happen again.
(At 8.15 in the morning, Japanese time, on August 6, 1945, the Bomb fell; more than one hundred thousand people were vaporized, burnt, mutilated or disabled.)
A quarter of a century later in a bar in Hiroshima they serve an “atomic coctail”.
A mistake is repeated.
every moment -
hundreds of mistakes.
The Olympic torch in the main stadium in Tokyo was lit by a man born on the day when the Bomb fell. (Some people criticized this.)
In the “Atomic Children” monument
hang thousands of origami paper
cranes folded by children from all
The cranes are flying -
Let the mistake never
He who has reached the other shore, but has yet remained here - in order to take others with
him - is content, for he knows that there is no “knowledge” and no “no-knowledge”.
The happiness of the butterfly is his happiness and the tears of the abandoned flow from his eyes. He knows that there is no “me” and no “you”.
He does not possess anything and so everything is his: the treasures of the kings, the sky and the
pine-trees in the forests. He knows that there is no “mine” and no “yours”.
He has relinquished everything and so the whole world is present to him: everything that has been, that is and that shall be. He knows that there is no “now” and no “then”.
What he thinks about is reality, and reality is his fancying. He knows that there is no “awareness”
and no “dream”.
He even does not notice his presence here - such
is his freedom. On the earth he smiles with the laughter of gods, on the sea he sails in the heavenly boat, and eating bread and water he enjoys nectar and ambrosia.
he looks for the key
of his sweetheart’s room.
I climbed one of the oldest mountains of Japan, where trees are growing, descendants of trees now not to be found anymore anywhere else. Here, on the very top
of the mountain, a cedar is standing, hundreds of years old, with knotty roots pressed into clefts in the rock, like fingers squeezing a clod of hard earth.
In a cave below these roots, the god of the mountain dwells, its spirit: Kami. He was born together with the mountain. He is as old as the mountain itself.
- When I ascended along the path leading here
I was outstripped by a young girl. She told me
that someone who drinks water from the brook
in this mountain never dies and never even
grows old - that by every spring he is awakened
as young, happy and pure as the brook entering
the valley. But later I met an old man who came
back and told me that it is not water that flows
in the brook, but the tears of the disappointed.
Tell me: What is Truth?
- When you realize Truth, you will be alone.
- The girl I met told me that she was going to
the garden of a temple below the top of this
mountain where they grow chrysanthemums
which only the most beautiful girls are allowed
to take care of. But the old man said that there
is no longer a temple there, the monks all died
and soon afterwards the chrysanthemums
perished. Tell me: What is Beauty?
- When you experience Beauty, you will be alone.
- The girl told me: “We shall pull down the
rotten huts in the village, we shall burn the
mould-covered planks, and out of the ashes
there will grow flowers of happiness. We shall
wipe away the tears of the humiliated and the
insulted with flowers of happiness.” And the old
man: “Bandits broke in; they destroyed the tombs
of great men and threw their bones to the dogs.
We strangled our cries; we thrust our broken
nails into our throats. Scoundrels and cowards
put on the uniform of the conqueror: some of
them in fear, some with cynicism, some with a
pose of domination. And if we said to a rascal
that he was a rascal, all the rascals jumped up to
destroy us.” Tell me: What is Justice?
- When you fight for Justice, you will be alone.
- The girl said that there was a young man
she loved, and who loved her, and that they
would love each other forever. But the old
man was betrayed by his wife, and by his
daughter, and even his mother betrayed
him. Tell me: What is Love?
- As long as you are alone, you will not feel Love.
The gray evening mist started to creep among
the cedars; it was fresh, wet-cold, and drops of
dew began to accumulate on the hair - it got
heavy with damp. I went back, down towards
the village. From among the huts, through the
curtain of mist, here and there a twinkling of
light could be seen faintly.
The village is darkness -
Here and there some sparks of light.
WAR AND PEACE
As a little girl, she had burst into tears looking at a horse in the freezing rain, yoked in harness, its skin quivering helplessly while the coachman was drinking in the warm and heated tavern... She did not throw away a half withered flower, but put it into the larder, for it to return to life a little. ... She would often pass by the old man with his scales, and one day went to him to have her weight told, pressing a large banknote into his hand and then running off to disappear out of his sight as fast as she could - while the troubled old man crossed himself as he bowed.... Once during a storm she hurled herself from a cliff into the waves to be wedded to them, to become one with them, not even she herself knowing or thinking what she was doing, and only just stopped herself being smashed
by the waves upon the shore, while the fisherman standing there held his head in his hands in horror and ran up and down...
When the war started she was still very young, and what she held against the invaders was not only that they themselves killed, but that they forced others to kill them... Hungry and chilled to the bone, she wandered through the winter forest at night, for hours, returning exhausted to the spot where she had stepped across the freezing brook. And when she heard barking from somewhere, she set off towards it.... A soldier with a bayonet in his rifle charged at her, and she fired, fired, and the soldier fell. Then she ran, rushed among the bullets to reach the man who had to be saved at any cost... And when she was captured, they slashed her feet with bayonet blades, and when they began pulling her by the hair, it was only by a miracle that she escaped something worse....
Much later on, when she was ill, things used
to be hard for her. She very often wanted
to go away, go completely away, be born
again somewhere else, not in a city among
people, but in a great, quiet forest, among the
evergreens and ferns, to be some kind of lichen
or moss, like those that hug the bark of the
birch tree in grey, brown, green and yellow
One evening, watching the clouds with their different colours and shapes voyaging north to south, one after another, together, changing their outlines, being born and dying, like destinies, she felt that it was these very clouds that were the eternal truth and the eternal reality, while all other things, so stiff and heavy, were just a fleeting apparition.
MESSAGE TO THE BORDER GUARDS
You are this country’s soldiers. On you depends
Let an enemy who means to land on our shores know, let him know that this country is soaked in the sweat and the blood of our ancestors, let him know that their bones are scattered over it. Let him know that this land is a costly land, with each square foot costing a head.
Let any enemy who wants to conquer this
country know: let him know that each man
and each woman and each child will be his foe. Let him know that each tree and each stone in
this country will be his foe. Let him know that by
day and by night he will be surrounded by foes.
After the battle, when you have collected the corpses, let the funeral be performed with military ceremony, for our dead soldiers and for the dead soldiers of our enemy.
And when the last ship of the defeated army has gone down behind the horizon, put down your spears and return to your homes. And take care
of the children of your fallen comrades; they will, when they grow up, fight a new battle against a new enemy.
On the meadow, in the forest, through the garden - I looked for it everywhere.
I saw many white flowers: shepherd’s purse,
morning-glory,narcissus, lotus... But they
weren’t the one I was searching for.
I looked for the one that was white inside, before it blossoms.
Often I thought I saw it - but when I
Now, again: I am sitting on a fallen log,
and it seems to me that I can see it down
there, among the ferns. Should I go near
and look at it?
But, can anyone truly find the white flower by looking for it? Doesn’t it always grow in the very places where no one looks?
PUBLISHED BY: FS d.o.o. Masarykova 28, Zagreb
FOR THE PUBLISHER: Vilko Žiljak
FORWORD: Vladimir Devidé
DESIGN: Jana Žiljak
PRINTING BY: FS - digitalni tisak XEIKON