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A poem by Nikola Vaptsarov: My Country

nikola-vaptsarov

My Country

 

Above you Pirin
her granite peaks raises
hazily seen through the mists and the rain.
Over poor villages
eagles soar high,
and the wind whistles over the plain.

But there was a time
when, simple and candid,
my day-dreams would bear me along…
Life then was so bright
and free handed,
life then was so light,
and you were a song.

And now –
I’ve coped
with smoke,
with grease
and machines,
I’ve suffered
privation, the yoke –
wherever they struggle
for bread.

And something broke
in my heart.
I groaned with the smart,
but found no release.

So then I looked back
and bitterly spat,
both on you
and on life itself too.

Today you are near,
much nearer by far than my mother,
but today I am red with the smear
of blood that is needlessly shed;
I lie choking at night
with the blood of the fight
of your heroes
on foreigners’ pay…

It hurts me, my country,
so terribly, cruelly hurts,
that blood which so spurts,
and I want to know:
did all that
have to be
so?

All around me
gloom.
And in the gloom – toil and prostration.
Starvation.

You’ve lagged for hundreds of years.
And somewhere the pulse of life throbs,
and plant
after plant
keeps appearing,
propellers are whizzing…
But my people
are working
and dying
as in the old days
of the bronze age.

But I love you again,
the country of Gotse and Dahme,
because I was bred
because I was hardened by you.
And in my young heart I uphold
the turbulent banner,
the strenuous purpose
of all without shelter and bread.

 

 

Nikola Vaptsarov

Nikola Vaptsarov - 3

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