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Vasko Popa

Far Within Us #6

From the wrinkle between my brows
You watch till day breaks
On my face

The waxen night
Is beginning to singe
The fingers of dawn

Black bricks
Have already tiled
The whole dome of the sky


Trans. by Anne Pennington

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Far Within Us #5

The nights are running out of darkness

Steel branches grasp
The arms of passers-by

Only anonymour chimneys
Are free to walk the streets
Which slice across our sleeplessness

In the gutters our stars decay


Trans. by Anne Pennington


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Far Within Us #3

Unquiet you walk
Along the rims of my eyes

On the invisible grating
Before your lips
My naked words shiver

We steal moments
From the unheeding iron saws

Your hands sadly
Flow into mine
The air is impassable


Trans. by Anne Pennington


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Wedding

Each strips his own skin
Each bares his own constellation
Which has never seen the night

Each fills his skin with rocks
And plays with it
Lit by his own stars

Who doesn't stop till dawn
Who doesn't bat an eyelid or fall
Earns his own skin

(This game is rarely played)

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Far Within Us #4

Green gloves rustle
On the avenue's branches

The evening carries us under its arm
By a path which leaves no trace

The rain falls on its knees
Before the fugitive windows

The yards come out of their gates
And stand looking after us


Trans. by Anne Pennington


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Give Me Back My Rags #1

Give me back my rags

My rags of pure dreaming
Of silk smiling of striped foreboding
Of my cloth of lace

My rags of spotted hope
Of burnished desire of chequered glances
Of skin from my face

Give me back my rags
Give me when I ask you nicely


Trans. by Anne Pennington

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Hide-And-Seek

Someone hides from someone else
Hides under his tongue
The other looks for him under the earth

He hides on his forehead
The other looks for him in the sky

He hides inside his forgetfulness
The other looks for him in the grass

Looks for him looks
There's no place he doesn't look
And looking he loses himself

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Anne Pennington

Until her last breath she enlarges
Her Oxford house
Built in Slavonic
Vowels and consonants

She polishes the corner-stones
Until their Anglo-Saxon shine
Begins to sing

Her death is like a short breath-stop
Under the distant limetrees of her friends


Trans. by Peter Jay, Anthony Rudolf, and Daniel Weissbort


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Give Me Back My Rags

Just come to my mind
My thoughts will scratch out your face

Just come into my sight
My eyes will start snarling at you

Just open your mouth
My silence will smash your jaws

Just remind me of you
My remembering will paw up the ground under your feet

That's what it's come to between us


Trans. by Anne Pennington

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Give Me Back My Rags #11

I've wiped your face off my face
Ripped your shadow off my shadow

Leveled the hills in you
Turned your plains into hills

Set your seasons quarreling
Turned all the ends of the world from you

Wrapped the path of my life around you
My impenetrable my impossible path

Just try to meet me now


Trans. by Anne Pennington

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