Vasko Popa--Serbian



Vasko Popa


Born in 1922 in Grebenac, Yugoslavia, Popa fought with the partisans during World War II.  He studied in Vienna and Bucharest before completing his education at the University of Belgrade in 1949.  He became an editor after his studies, and in 1953 published his first book of poetry, Kora (Bark).  A number of significant collections followed, including Nepocin-polie, in 1956, and Sporedno nebo (Secondary Heaven), in 1968, Uspravna zemlja (Earth Erect) in 1972, Vucja so (Wolf’s Salt) in 1975 and Od zlata jabuka (The Golden Apple), in 1958.  His collected poems were published in English in 1978, with an introduction by Ted Hughes.  Popa died in Belgrade in 1991.

In The Village Of My Ancestors

Someone looks at me with the eyes of a wolf
Someone takes off his hat
So I can see him better

Everyone asks me
Do you know how I'm related to you

Unknown old men and women
Appropriate the names
Of young men and women from my memory

I ask one of them
Tell me for God's sake
Is George the Wolf still living

That's me he answers
With a voice from the next world

I touch his cheek with my hand
And beg him with my eyes

To tell me if I'm living too 


Far Within Us #1

We raise our arms
The street climbs into the sky
We lower our eyes
The roofs go down into the earth

From every pain
We do not mention
Grows a chestnut tree
That stays mysterious behind us

From every hope
We cherish
Sprouts a star
That moves unreachable before us

Can you hear a bullet
Flying about our heads
Can you hear a bullet
Waiting to ambush our kiss