www.almissa.com

Omiš, Croatia

 

- Site map

- Picture Gallery

- Video Gallery

- Information

- History

- Arts, Culture &...

- People

- News

- Chat Room

- Curiosity

- Search

- Links

- Guestbook

- WEB Statistics

- Send E-Card!

- What's new?

 

Contact Us!

© 2003-2008 www.almissa.com. All rights reserved.


Jama/The Pit

Tekst: Ivan Goran Kovačić; Translation: Alec Brown; Pogovor:Jure Kaštelan

 

Ivan Goran Kovač

(21. ožujka, 1913. - 13. srpanj, 1943.)

 

Ivan Goran Kovačić was one of the greatest Croatian writers of the 20th century. He was born in Lukovdol (On March 21st, 1913), a town in Gorski Kotar, a mountainous region of western Croatia, and his middle name Goran stems from that.

During World War II, he found himself joining the Partisan forces, and he did so along with the poet Vladimir Nazor in 1942.

His most famous work is Jama (The Pit), which ranks among the greatest Croatian poems ever written. He penned it during the war, while in service near the city of Livno. The poem was written out of intellectual and ethical responsibility that condemns fascist attrocities done by his own nation - The Croatian Ustase, which somehow corresponds to (documented) genocide of Serbian people in Lika, Herzegovina and elsewhere. There, Ustase were killing Serbs and pushing them in pits and caves. Ivan Goran Kovacic was killed by Chetnik forces in an east-Bosnian village of Bunovo (On July 13th, 1943).

The work is a great example of anti-war poetry. Its message against torture, mass murders and war crimes is universal, and it should be translated to every language. Jama was studied in elementary school all over Communist Yugoslavia. Sadly, not so in modern independent Croatia, where it was simply discarded in nationalist hysteria that covertly denied anything connected to antifascist movement.

 

Jama

I

Krv je moje svjetlo i moja tama.
     Blaženu noć su meni iskopali
Sa sretnim vidom iz očinjih jama;
     Od kaplja dana bijesni oganj pali
Krvavu zjenu u mozgu, ko ranu.
Moje su oči zgasle na mome dlanu.
 

Sigurno još su treperile ptice
     U njima, nebo blago se okrenu;
I ćutio sam, krvavo mi lice
     Utonulo je s modrinom u zjenu;
Na dlanu oči zrakama se smiju
I moje suze ne mogu da liju.
 

Samo kroz prste kapale su kapi
     Tople i guste koje krvnik nađe
Još gorčom mukom duplja koje zjapi
     Da bodež u vrat zabode mi slađe:
A mene dragost ove krvi uze,
I ćutio sam kaplje kao suze.
 

Posljednje svjetlo prije strašne noći
     Bio je bljesak munjevita noža,
I vrisak, bijel još i sad u sljepoći,
     I bijela, bijela krvnikova koža;
Jer do pojasa svi su bili goli
I tako nagi oči su nam boli.
 

O bolno svjetlo, nikad tako jako
     I oštro nikad nisi sinulo u zori,
U strijeli, ognju; i ko da sam plako
     Vatrene suze s kojih duplje gori;
A kroz taj pako bljeskovi su pekli,
Vriskovi drugih mučenika sjekli.
 

Ne znam koliko žar je bijesni trajo,
     Kad grozne kvrge s duplja rasti stanu,
Ko kugle tvrde, i jedva sam stajo.
     Tad spoznah skliske oči na svom dlanu
I rekoh: „Slijep sam, mila moja mati,
kako ću tebe sada oplakati...”
 

A silno svjetlo, ko stotine zvona
     Sa zvonika bijelih, u pameti
Ludoj sijevne: svjetlost sa Siona,
     Divna svjetlost, svjetlost koja svijeti!
Svijetla ptico, Svijetlo drvo! Rijeko!
Mjeseče! Svjetlo ko majčino mlijeko!
 

Al ovu strašnu bol već nisam čeko:
     Krvnik mi reče: „Zgnječi svoje oči!”
Obezumljen sam skoro preda nj kleko,
     Kad grč mi šaku gustom sluzi smoći;
I više nisam ništa čuo, znao:
U bezdan kao u raku sam pao.
 

II

Mokraćom hladnom svijestili me Ćuške
     Dijelili, vatrom podigli me silom;
I svima redom probadali uške
     Krvnici tupim i debelim šilom
„Smijte se!” - ubod zapovijedi prati -
Oboce svima pred krst ćemo dati!”
 

I grozan smijeh, cerekanje, grohot
     Zamnije ko da grohoću mrtvaci;
I same klače smete ludi hohot
     Pa svaki bičem na žrtve se baci.
A mi smo dalje u smijanju dugu
Plakali, praznih duplja, mrtvu tugu.
 

Kada smo naglo, ko mrtvi, umukli
     (Od straha valjda što smo ipak živi),
U red za uške otekle nas vukli,
     I nijemi bol na stranu sve nas privi;
(U muku čuli iz šume smo pticu):
provlačili su kroz uške nam žicu
 

I svaki tako, kada bi se mako,
     Od bola strašna muklo bi zarežo.
„Šutite!” - rikne krvnik - „nije lako,
     Al potrebno je da tko ne bi bježo.”
I nitko od nas glavom da potrese
I drugom slijepcu šuti bol nanese.
 

Krvožednike smiri žičan lokot
     I umorni su u hlad bliski sjeli;
I začuo se vode mrzli klokot
     U žarku grlu, i glasno su jeli,
Ko poslije teška posla; zatim stali
Jedan sa drugim da se grubo šali.
 

Zaboravili kao da su nas:
     Zijevali, vjetre puštali su glasne.
„Eh, jednu malu vidio sam danas...”
     Dobaci netko, uz primjedbe masne.
I opet klokot hladna vina ili vode
Trgne slijepce - žica me probode.
 

III

U mome redu počela da ludi
     Neka žena. Vikala je: „Gori!
Ljudi, gori! Kuća gori! Ljudi!”
     A žica ljuto počela da pori
Nabreknute, grozne naše uši.
Na tla se žena ugušena sruši.
 

„Dupljaši! Ćore! Lubanje mrtvačke”
     Sove! U duplja dat ćemo vam žere
Da progledate! Vi, ćorave mačke!”
     Zareži pijan koljač kao zvjere
I slijepcu nožem odcijepi lice
Od uha što se zaljulja vrh žice.
 

Urlik i teški topot slijepe žrtve
     (Što bježeć kroz mrak uvis noge diže),
I brz trk za njom, sred tišine mrtve,
     I tupi pad, kad lovca nož je stiže
O, taj je spašen! — rekoh svojoj tami
Ne opazivši da nas vode k jami.
 

Srce je muklo šupljom grudi tuklo;
     Tad druga srce preko žice začuh.
Lupanje ludo naprijed nas je vuklo.
     (Što srce skaču kad u mraku plaču!)
I od te lupe progledah kroz rupe:
U jasnom sjaju misli mi se skupe.
 

I vidjeh opet, ko još ovog jutra,
     Duboku jamu, juče iskopanu.
Napregnuh sluh da čujem kad unutra
     Uz tupi udar prve žrtve panu.
Oštrom svijesti odlučuh da brojim:
Ja, pedeseti što u redu stojim.
 

I čekao sam. Skupljao sam točne
     Podatke: tko je već nestao straga,
Tko sprijeda - zbrajo, odbijao, dok počne
     Udaranje, padovi. Sva snaga
mozga u jasnoj svijesti se napregnu
Da promjene mi pažnji ne izbjegnu.
 

Negdje je cvrčak pjevo; oblak pokri
     Začas u letu sjenom cijelo polje.
Čuo sam kako jedan krvnik mokri,
     A drugi stao široko da kolje.
Sve mi to zasja u sluhu ko u vidu.
Sa bljeskom sunca na nožnome brdu.
 

IV

Kad prva žrtva počela da krklja,
     Čuh meki udar, i mesnata vreća
Padaše dugo. Znao sam: u grkljan
     Dolazi prvi ubod, među pleća
Drugi, a ruka naglo žrtvu grune
U jamu gdje će s drugima da trune.
 

Netko se mrtvo ispred mene složi
     Il iza mene, riknuvši od straha,
A ja udarce silnom svijesti množih,
     Odbijajući pale istog maha,
Mada sam svakog - što kriknu, zagrca -
Ćutio kao ugriz u dno srca.
 

Čovjek iz jame jeco je ko dijete,
     Tek priklan; cikto jezivo mu glasak.
Streptih da račun moj se ne pomete.
     Tad buknu u dnu bezdna bombe prasak.
Tlo se zaljulja. Klonuće me svlada.
Nestala u spas posljednja mi nada.
 

Al silna svijest pažnjom me opsjednu:
     U sluh se živci, krv, meso i koža
Napregli. Zbrojih trideset i jednu
     žrtvu; šezdeset i dva boda noža.
Slušo sam udar kojom snagom pada,
I meni opet vratila se nada.
 

Na jauk iz bezdna sada nova prasne
     Bomba uz tutanj. I mrtva tjelesa
Padahu sad uz pljuske manje glasne,
     Kao u vodu, povrh kaše mesa.
Uto oćutjeh da po krvi kližem.
Protrnuh: evo, i ja k jami stižem!
 

V

O vidio sam, vidio sve bolje,
     Ko da su natrag stavljene mi oči:
I bijelu kožu, i nož koji kolje,
     I žrtve (kao jagnjad što se koči
Časkom pred klanje, al u redu bliže
Korak po korak mirno k nožu stiže).
 

Bez prekidanja red se dalje mico
     - Ko da na čelu netko nešto dijeli -
Nit je tko viko, trzo se, narico;
     Na žezi strašnoj tih su nas želi
Ko mrtvo klasje koje jedva šušti.
(To se čula krv što iz grla pljušti.)
 

Korak po korak pošli smo; stali opet:
     Krkljanje, udar, pad i opet korak.
Začuh zvuk jače. Ukočen, ko propet,
     Stadoh. Na usni tuđe krvi gorak
Okus oćutjeh. Sad sam bio treći
Što jamu čeka u redu stojeći.
 

Strašna mi tama, od sljepoće gora,
     Sav um pomuti i na čula leže,
I za njom svjetlost ko stotine zora:
     Iskro! Strijelo! Plamene! Sniježe!
Silno svjetlo bez ijedne sjene,
Ko oštar ubod igle usred zjene.
 

Drug se preda mnom natrag k meni nago,
     Kao od grča; onda je zastenjo,
Naprijed posrno, uzdahnuo blago -
     I tihi uzdaj s krkljanjem mu jenjo.
Surva se, pljusnu kao riba Zine
Preda mnom prostor bezdane praznine.
 

Sve pamtim: naprijed zaljuljah se, natrag,
     Bez ravnovjesja - kao da sam stao
Jezive neke provalije na prag,
     A iza mene drugi ponor zjao.
Bijela strijela u prsi mi sinu,
Crna me šinu s pleći. U dubinu.
 

VI

U bezdanu uma jeza me okrijepi.
     Osjetih hladno truplo gdje me tišti,
Hladnost smrti da mi tijelo lijepi.
     Strah sviješću sinu: Neka žena vrišti!
U jami sam - tom ždrijelu našeg mesa;
Ko mrtve ribe studena tjelesa.
 

Ležim na lešu: kupu hladetine,
     Mlohave, sluzne, što u krvi kisne,
I spas sa jezom iz leda me vine:
     Svijest munjom blisne kada žena vrisne.
Okrenuh se, u groznici tad k vrisku
Pružih ruku: napipah ranu sklisku.
 

I prvi puta sva životna snaga
     Nad leševima stala da se skuplja;
Na vrisak skrenuh ruku, i u duplja
     Lubanje zaboh prste; tijela naga
Ko da su sva zavrištala u jami -
Sav pako jeknu jezivo u tami.
 

Bomba će pasti! Užasnuh se prvo;
     U grču strašnu zgrabih rukom niže.
Zakoljak nađoh grozan. Leš se rvo
     Sa mnom i na me počeo da kliže.
Krkljo mu grkljan u krvavoj rani;
Korake začuh i glasove vani.
 

O bože moj, zagrlila me žena
     Sad zagrljajem druge svoje smrti:
Kako joj koža lica nagrbljena...
     Starice! Bako! I uzeh joj trti
Koščate ruke, i žarko ih ljubih.
Činilo mi se: mrtvu majku ubih.
 

Čuo sam kako umirući stenje,
     I poželio ludo da oživi.
Sve leševe tad molih oproštenje.
     Oćutjeh tvrdu usnu gdje se krvi -
Obeznanih se. Kad sam opet skido
Mrak nesvijesti, još sam gorko rido.
 

VII

Ušutjeh. Sam sam međ truplima lednim,
     A studen smrti na leđa mi sjela,
Na udove. U ledu mrtvih žednim
     Vatrama nepca, jezika i ždrijela.
Led smrti šuti. U njem pako gori.
A nigdje vriska da samoća ori.
 

Taj grozni teret što na meni leži,
     Ni smrtnim ledom neće da priušti
Hladnoću grla; a biva sve teži:
     Odjednom skoro viknuh: voda pljušti!
Čujem gdje s vrha po truplima teče;
Ah, studen mlat! - al peče, peče, peče!
 

Po goloj koži, po leđnome jarku,
     Niz trbuh, prsa, slabine i bute
Potočić studen pali vatru žarku,
     Dube u mesu kanaliće ljute.
I kad na usnu mlazić žarki kapno,
Opaljen jezik kusnu živo vapno!
 

Puna je jama: Na lešine liju
     Vapno da živim strvine ne smrde.
O hvala im, nas mrtve sada griju
Plamenom svoje samilosti... Tvrde
Leševe ćutim: trzaju se goli,
Ko mrtve ribe kad ih kuhar soli.
 

Taj zadnji trzaj umirućeg živca,
     Taj čudni drhtaj na kojem sam plivo
Učini da sam blagosiljo krivca:
     O gle! još truplo kraj mene je živo -
To starica me hladnom rukom gladi,
Jer zna da moji ne prestaše jadi!
 

VIII

Kada se mrtvi val života stišo,
     Korake začuh ko daleku jeku:
Netko je jamu par puta obišo;
     I nasta mir ko mir u mrtvu vijeku.
pomakoh nogu, stegnuh lakta oba -
Ko grobar kad se izvlači iz groba.
 

Zaprepastih se: leševi se miču,
     Kližu nada me, polako se ruše -
Smiju se, plaču, hropoću i viču,
     Pružaju ruke i bijesno me guše...
Osjećah nokte, stražnjice, bokove,
Trbuhe, usta što me živa love.
 

Prestavljen stadoh. Stadoše i oni.
     Sad je težina manja. Mrtva noga
Pala mi preko ramena. Ne goni
     Nitko me više! - rekoh sebi; - To se
O vratu tvome splele ženske kose.
 

Prostrujo hladan zrak na moja usta
     Kroz sloj leševa: izlazu sam blizu!
I srknuh utopljenički: krv gusta
     kroz nosnice u grlo oštro briznu.
Smijo sam se - al da me netko tako
Nakreveljena vidje, taj bi plako
 

Il bi od straha sledio se, nijem
     Pred tom rugobom. Jer, što da se tješim:
Odsad će ljudi mislit da se smijem
     Kad plačem, i da plačem kad se smiješim.
Ta prazna duplja, gnijezda grozne tame,
Sjećat će svijet na crno ždrijelo jame.
 

I sama sebe osjećo sam krivim
     Što ostavljam u bezdnu te mrtvace,
Jer zrak je ovaj živ... a ja ne živim...
     I čekah da me opet natrag bace.
Al rana živim bolom: živ si! reče.
Sabrah se. Vlaga! S njom se spušta veče.
 

IX

O, nikad nisam očekivo tamu
     S tolikom čežnjom. Pazi! rosa kliže
Niz trupla dođe do mene, u jamu!
     Užaren jezik počeo da liže
Kaplje sa ruku, nogu mrtvih tijela
Što su se na me ko žlijeb nadnijela.
 

Pomamno sam i divlje se penjo,
     Gazio prsa i trbuhe grubo -
I kad bi mrtav zrak iz trbuha stenjo,
     Nisam već trno. Vuko sam i skubo
Dugačke kose, uspinjo se mesom,
Podjaren žeđom kao ludim bijesom.
 

Nisam osjećo bola, straha, stida;
     Obarah leš za lešom, grabih plazih
Po njima ko po zemlji što se kida.
     A možda svoju mrtvu sestru gazih,
Susjeda vukoh, lomih nježnu dragu.
Žeđ mi je dala bezumlje i snagu.
 

Kad sam se divlje iz jame izvuko,
     Zaboravih svijest, oprez, da l je mrko:
Tlom krvavim sam puzo, tijelo vuko
     Do trave: zvjerski, živinski je srko;
Uranjo u nju, jeo je i guto
I ko po rijeci livadom sam pluto.
 

Dozvah se: usta, punih trave, ležim,
     Gorim, ledenim: u teškoj sam mori.
Spasen! O, kamo, kamo sad da bježim?
     Zadrhtah: pjesma krvnikova ori.
Daleko. Našim mukama se ruga.
I mržnja planu. Ostavi me tuga.
 

X

Odjednom k meni miris paljevine
     Vjetar donese s garišta mog sela;
Miris iz kog se sve sjećanje vine:
     Sve svadbe, berbe, kola i sijela,
Svi pogrebi, naricaljke, opijela;
Sve što je život sijo i smrt žela.
 

Gdje je mala sreća, bljesak stakla,
Lastavičje gnijezdo, iz vrtića dah;
Gdje je kucaj zipke što se makla,
I na traku sunca zlatni kućni prah?
 

Gdje je vretena zuj, misir hljeba
Što s domaćim šturkom slavi život blag;
Gdje su okna s komadićkom neba,
Tiha škripa vrata, sveti kućni prag?
 

Gdje je zvonce goveda iz štale
Što, ko s daljine, zvuk mu kroz star pod
U san kapne; dok zvijezde pale
Stoljeća mira nad sela nam i rod.
 

Nigdje plača. Smijeha. Kletve. Pjesme.
Mjesec, putujući, na garišta sja:
Ugasnuo s dola dalek jecaj česme,
Crni se na putu lešina od psa...
 

Zar ima mjesto bolesti i muka
Gdje trpi, pati, strada čovjek živ?
Zar ima mjesto gdje udara ruka
I živiš s onim koji ti je kriv?
 

Zar ima mjesto gdje još vrište djeca,
Gdje ima otac kćerku, majku sin?
Zar ima mjesto gdje ti sestra jeca
I brat joj stavlja mrtvoj na grud krin?
 

Zar ima mjesto gdje prozorsko cvijeće
Rubi još radost i taži još bol?
Zar ima većeg bogatstva i sreće
Nego što su škrinja i klupa i stol?
 

Iz šume, s rikom gora, prasak muko
     Zatutnji. Za njim tanad raspršeno
Ciknu, ko djeca njegova. Pijuko
     Nada mnom zvuk visoko, izgubljeno.
Bitka se bije. Osvetnik se javlja!
Osvijetli me radost snažna poput zdravlja.
 

Planu u srcu sva ognjišta rodna,
     Osvetom buknu krvi prolivene
Svaka mi žila, i ko usred podna
     Sunce Slobode razbi sve mi sjene.
Držeć se smjera garišnoga dima,
Jurnuh, poletjeh k vašim pucnjevima.
 

Tu ste me našli ležati na strani,
     Braćo rođena, neznani junaci,
Pjevali ste, i ko kad se dani
     Široka svjetlost, kao božji znaci,
Okupala me. Rekoh: zar su snovi?
Tko je to pjevo? Tko mi rane povi?
 

Oćutjeh na čelu meku ruku žene;
     Sladak glas začuh: „Partizani, druže!
Počivaj! Muke su ti osvećene!”
     Ruke se moje prema glasu pruže,
Bez riječi, i dosegnuh nježno lice,
Kosu i pušku, bombu vidarice.
 

Zajecao sam i još i sad plačem
     Jedino grlom, jer očiju nemam,
Jedino srcem, jer su suze mačem
     Krvničkim tekle zadnji puta. Nemam
Zjenice da vas vidim i nemam moći,
A htio bih, tugo! - s vama u boj poći.
 

Tko ste? Odakle? Ne znam, al se grijem
     Na vašem svjetlu. Pjevajte. Jer ćutim
Da sad tek živim, makar možda mrijem.
     Svetu Slobodu i Osvetu slutim...
Vaša mi pjesma vraća svjetlo oka,
Ko narod silna, ko sunce visoka.
 

~ KRAJ ~
1942-43. g.

The Pit

I

BLOOD is my daylight, and darkness too.
     Blessing of night has been gouged from my cheeks
Bearing with it my more lucky sight.
     Within those holes, for tears, fierce fire inflamed
The bleeding socket as if for brain a balm -
While my bright eyes died on my own palm.
 

While played, I never doubt, God's feathered creatures,
     Reflected still in them, and clouds' procession;
But all I felt were my blood-spattered features,
     Bruised gulfs in that once brillant profusion.
Haw radiant lay my eyeballs in my hand,
Yet from those eyes no tear could more descend!
 

Then ever other fingers ran the warm
     Coagulating blood my slaughterer found
By the profounder agony of holes he formed
     For better grip, more sensuously to wound;
But me the softness of my blood enthralled,
And I rejoiced as blood were red tears falling.
 

The final light before the frightful night
     The lightning swooping of the polished knife,
The cry too white still in my blinded sight,
     The bleach-white bodies of the murderers,
Who stripped their torsos for their sweaty task -
Was dazzling even to my blinded mask.
 

O painful daylight, never so hard yet
     Or penetrating did you break the East
With fiery arrow; I might have thought I shed
     Teardrops with leaping flames that seared my cheeks
Through all that hell so many lightnings brent,
So many cries of other victims rent.
 

What time that furious conflagration fanned,
     All that I knew of time were callouses for eyes,
Hard-grown and aching; and could hardly stand.
     And only then my slippery eyeballs fingered
And knew - and cried: My sight, O Mother mine, is gone.
How shall I wepp when your life too is done?
 

Then dazzling daylight like a myriad carillons
     From endless gleaming bell-towers in my crazy
Brain illumined like the lights of Zion,
     A lovely light - a light which sanctified -
Bright birds, bright river, trees and, brilliant
Boon pure as mother's milk, still brighter moon.
 

Now came a torture I had never guessed -
     My murderer commanded “Break your own eyes!”
I nearly prayed for mercy to the beast,
     But slimy-fingered spasmic hands obeyed -
And then no more I heard, no more could tell,
To empty nothyng faltered, and I feel.
 

II

WITH chilly urine woke me, and with blows
     Belaboured fire back to my head, and then
These executioners pierced our ear lobes
     With blunted, clumsy spikes, each one in turn -
“Laugh, laugh!” they ordered, as they thrust their tools,
“Ear-rings are fire for force-converted fools!”
 

Then horrid laughter, sobbing, loud and wild
     Reverberated as if dead men laughed;
But crazy humour hindered those defiled -
     To silence us our wilted flesh they flayed;
But endless now in our long choking wit,
With gaping sockets our dead sorrow wept.
 

Then suddenly like corpses we were still
     (No doubt from fear lest we were still alive) -
Tugged by our swollen ears they dressed us, till
     The silent torture turned us all awry
(But birds that sang to us, not one did tire)
While through our tattered lobes was drawn a wire.
 

So each man of us if the least he starts
     Howls dully when he feels the frightful pain.
“Silence” - the executioner - “we know it smarts,
     But we're not going to let you go again!”
Not one of us could even shake his head
But give another blinding pain instead.
 

That warder wire appeased our cruel captors,
     And, tired, nearby they sat down in the shade;
Refreshing water gurgle then was heard
     Down parching throats, laud pleasure as they ate,
As if they'd laboured hard, till they began
To pass foul, slimy jokes from man to man.
 

Then even seemed our presence was forgotten;
     We heard them yawn and break their wind at leisure.
“Oh boy, I saw a skirt today” - a rotter
     Spued dirty observations from his tongue.
Thus passed their noon, in wine or cooling water -
Ours passed on burning wire, strung for the slaughter.
 

III

NOW in my rank a girl went mad and shrieked
     Her warning — “Men! Fire! the house is burning,
Fire!” And now the wire strung through us wreaked
     New agony and rent distorted gaps
In all our monster ears until she fell
And choking lay, oblivious to hell. “Blind sockets,
 

deaths-head skulls, you purblind rats,
     We'll doctor you with hot coals in those holes
To make you see again, blind blinking bats!”
     And, as he spoke, a drunken murderer lent
Leering forward, and slashed down through a face,
To leave its ear still dangling, wired in place.
 

We heard the victim's cry, his frenzied pace
     As, thus released, down maddened dark he ran;
Through mortal silence then we heard the chase,
     And, as the knife struck twice, his heavy fall.
So one is saved, I told my night of it,
No knew they led our steps towards the pit.
 

I heard the heart dull in my hollow breast
     And through the wire to others' beating harked;
To that dumb drum we pressed our steps ahead
     (Haw loud it rumbled through the weeping dark!)
By that tattoo I saw through holes for eyes
My thoughts assemble as in bright sunrise.
 

And saw again, as I had seen at dawn,
     The hollow pit which yesterday we dug;
I strained my hearing and at last it came -
     That sudden flat sound as each victim fell -
Knife-edged, my thought itself began to tell
The forty-nine before me, known so well.
 

And, waiting fingered memory's index,
     Ticked whom they took before, behind, all round -
So add, subtract, until the following blows
     Descend and new men die; till all my strength
Of mind to dazzling clarity was grown.
To let no change take place, and pass unknown.
 

Somewhere cicadas sang; a single cloud
     Brushed fleeting shadow over everything.
I heard one murderer nature easing loudly,
     The while another, heated, wildly slew -
All this engraved like sight, and glittered clear
As sun upon the knife-edge, in my ear.
 

IV

WHEN the first sacrifice began to choke
     I heard a silken sound, a fleshy sack
Which settled slow. I knew that first the throat
     They stuck, then in between the shoulder-blades
A second thrust, then swiftly pushed away
To fill the pit, together to decay.
 

Before my blindness, limp and dead, one fell,
     Then with a yell of fear, behind my back,
While my keen senses noted down each blow
     And every person dead, struck from my list -
No man nor girl who cried or sudden wept
But in my heart - my wound - their agony leapt.
 

A comrade in the pit now whimpered like a child,
     Throat but half stuck - that asound so ominous
Alarmed me lest I lost the list compliled -
     Then down below a hand-grenade they tossed -
The firm earth rocked. A weakness bend my shape;
What hope now had I that I might escape?
 

Yet consciousness triumphant still possessed me;
     Now nerves and blood and flesh and skin became
A straining ear; I counted thirty-one -
     Sixty and two more strikings with the knife -
I heard a blow which fell with savage force,
And once again my folly took its course.
 

When now another cry for intermission
     Brought yet another hand-grenade, new dead
Began to fall with thuds of less precision,
     As if on water, o'er a slush of flesh;
And so in blood I feel my foot-soles sink -
A spasm shook me - I had reached the brink.
 

V

OH, THEN I saw, with suddenly better sight,
     As if my eyes returned - but to my back -
That whitened skin, that knife prepared to strike,
     The victims too who while last seconds tick
Stand stiff and still, yet automatic steal
By inches toward the knife their nerves can feel.
 

Uninterruptedly the ranks moved slowly on
     - As if some distribution was ahead -
Not one that shouted, started back or groaned,
     While steadily in sultry air death mowed
The deadripe corn, which fell with only sound
The fluent blood which spurted to the ground.
 

Thus step by step, with briefest pause between -
     The croak, the knife, the thud; the queue pace
Nearer, nearer still. Strained on a rack,
     I backed, felt on my lips the bitter taste,
Another's blood, and thus became the third
Who waited at the pit till it - occurred.
 

The darkness more disgusting through my blindness
     Blasted my mind and cluttereb every sense -
And sense bevond a thausand daybreaks cried
     Intense - O arrow! O flame! O bewildering snow!
Light, come at last devoid of any shade,
With needles in my aching eyeballs played.
 

The comrade next bent suddenly towards me,
     As if a cramp had gripped him, then he groaned,
And, stumbling forward, set a soft sigh free,
     That lonely sigh, consumed in his death-rattle —
Swung downward, flopping like a fish. With this,
Before me gaped the bottomless abyss.
 

Each detail fresh today - my body swayed
     In space - as if upon the final rung
Of endless nothing balanced there before me,
     And at my back another nothing hung.
A whitened arrow was my own throat slit,
Black death the stab behind; before - the pit.
 

VI

BUT in the pit, by quivering heart made keen,
     I felt the chilling corpse that pressed me down,
And my own clamour too, that webbed me in.
     Fear flared my senses when a woman shrieked!
I am in the pit, cold maw that took our flesh,
That took our corpes clammier than fish.
 

I lay upon a corpse - a mould of brawn,
     A flabby slimy thing in bloody steep;
Yet thought was rescued by that human cold,
     And flashed new lightning when a woman screamed.
I turned in fever quick towards the sound
And stretched my hand - to touch a soft, wet wound.
 

For the first time my every ounce of strength
     Knotted together over all the dead;
To hide that shriek I held my breath and pressed
     Deep fingers in my sockets - bodies naked
Shrieked together in the darkened pit,
And hell re-echoed with the din of it.
 

Then my new fear awoke - grenades would fall!
     With awful spasm at first I thrust and gripped
A woefully butchered limb - the body crawled
     To writhe with me, and, writhing, slipped,
The blood-lapped gurking gullet gaping wide -
When footsteps came and voices spoke outside.
 

O heavens above, a woman's tense embrace
     Of second death contained me and I felt
My fingers ridging in her wrinkled cheeks -
     O whitened hairs! O Granny! and I held
Her bony hands and warmed them with my breath,
Felt I had caused my own dear mother's death.
 

I heard how she lamented as she died,
     How passionately still che longed to live.
I begged all those now dead for absolution.
     I felt a twisted lip grown swiftly stiff -
And fainted then. When once again I stripped
The darkness from my mind, my flesh still wept.
 

VII

STOPPED - alone - of all cold corpses, first!
     But chill of death subtly up my spine;
My limbs - congealed in choirs of dead men - thirsting
     With gums and tongue and gullet throbbing fire.
The ice of death is still. Inside, hell flamed,
Though not a cry, to give that silence shame.
 

Yet that lewd burden pressing on my body
     Not even with the ice of death can slake
My burning throat; that ever deader sod
     Confines me - till I nearly shriek for water -
Then water sprinkles, near and far by turns,
On, cooling shower! that burns, burns, burns!
 

Over the naked skin, the vale of ice,
     Down belly, breast and flanks and thighs at once
That cooling rivulet sets teasing fire,
     And hollows angry furrows in the flesh.
A burning droplet on my stiff lips traced,
My tongue revealed to me the quicklime taste.
 

The pit chockful, on carcases they poured
     That fire, to spare the world our stealing stench:
I thanked them that, now dead, they tried to warm
     Us with that charity ... I felt wrench
Of naked corpses as their sinews turned,
Like long dead fishes by crude saline burned.
 

That final spasm of nerves yet not quite still,
     That wondrous shudder on which I now floated
Compelled me bless the guilty one for this:
     When look! a corpse beside me was alive -
Grey-haired old granny's icy hand caressed
Me, now she knew I still had not found rest.
 

VIII

WHEN tat dead wave of life again subsided,
     I caught the sound of steps as from afair -
Somebody twice walked slowly round the site,
     Then peace shone steady, like the evening star.
I bent, to rise, hitched feet up, one by one,
Like digger when his graveyard job is done.
 

Then what surprise! The corpses moved about,
     Slid over me and slowly settled in;
They laughed and wept, groaned and sighed and shouted,
     Reached for me - gripped me - furiously throttled -
I felt their nails, their buttocks, and their thighs,
Their mouths and bellies corner me alive.
 

From terror I was still - then they still too -
     Their weight decreased, a dead leg on my shoulder
Dangled limp. They had pursued, but now
     Pursed no more! - my climbing had undone
The dead - I told myself. - That mangled nosse
About your neck, a dead girl's locks have tangled!
 

Soft air now brushed its coolness on my mouth
     Between the dead - then I was near escape!
And as if drowning, gulped; and thickened blood
     Through nostrils spurted down my parching throat.
I laughed aloud - yet who saw me with gob
Of comrade's blood bedecked, would sorely sob.
 

Or fear would petrify him, smite his speech
     Before monstrosity like me — for why
Deceive myself when mast think I grin
     If i am weeping, or, if smiling, cry?
Yet, in these empty sockets none may now forget
Like their tenebrous depths, the deadly pit.
 

For I could not relieve myself of guilt
     Were I to leave my dead in that dark hole.
The air's alive - but do I also live?
     I half expected they would clutch me to them -
But then my mortal wounds “You live!” declared.
Be brave! Day's done — the evening damp is here!
 

IX

OH, NEVER did I wait for darkness' coming
     With such desire. For now the dew was seeping
Over the upper bodies down to me!
     My inflamed tongue set greedily to lick
Drops from the arms and legs of those now dead,
And down contorted gutters nectar bled.
 

Like a wind creature, maddened then, I tried
     To clamber out, on bosom or on belly
Treading, non when those things like bellows sighed
     Did I pay heed, but clutshed and cramped my fringers
In the still hair, wherever dead flesh held,
Like maddened dog by burning thirst compelled.
 

Now was I free from pain and fear and shame,
     Free to betray and spurn the dead, and crawl
On bodies as on sodden ground that crumbled.
     Was it my sister that I trod - I cared not;
Some friend I mauled, girl's fragile bones I shattered -
My maddened thirst was master - what else mattered?
 

When like a beast I'd clambered from the pit,
     All wisdom, caution, fled, I cared not any more
Who saw, but in blood crawled about and dragged
     Myself to pasture, quadrupedal snorted,
Rooted burning lips, and gaped, and sank
My oblivious body as I crept and drank.
 

At last twast done; with grass-filled mouth I lay
     Twixt fire and ice, exhausted beyond sense,
But saved! though beffled - whither could I flee?
     A shudder broke me. Far aff the tyrants sang -
With dirty catch their dismal triumph they shared.
When my soft mood was gone, and hatred flared!
 

X

MY NOSTRILS suddenly had caught the scent,
     The wind-borne echo of our burning homes!
From ashes rose my youthful years' content -
     The weddings, harvests, dances, and long hours
Beside the hearth - the funerals with bells and wakes,
All that life's sower sows and death's scythe takes.
 

That simple happiness, the window's glint;
Swallow and young; or windborne garden sweet -
Where? - The unhurried cradle's drowsy tilt?
Or, by the threshold, sunshine at my feet?
 

The spindle's whirring, or the sweetish scent
Or bread - the chairs, the nook, that all require
But pease - that squere of sky the window bent -
Door hinges' gentle creak, the cosy fire -
 

The cowbell clanging stately from the byre? -
Afair, it seemed, through the floor boards seeped in
Drip drip in sleep, while one by one the stars
The ages lit, o'er villages and kin.
 

No weeping - only oaths and bawdy yells.
The moon above a ruined village stands.
no more below the house the well-hoist spelling
Peace. Death's odour only fills our land.
 

Is there a place where suffering and pain
Men suffer, and endure, but yet alive?
Is there a place where men forget again
And live with those who wronged them by their side?
 

Is there a place, where children cry delight,
A father has a daughter - son, a mother?
Where even dreaded death is calm, and white,
With lilies for farewell, placed by brother?
 

Is there a place, where flowers on the sill
Enhance a pleasure or a grief diminish?
Could there be happiness or wealth more full
Than oaken table, chest, and humble bench?
 

The forest suddenly rattled, magnified
     From hill to hill, and bullet scattering squeaked
Like thunder children near me; high and wide,
     Their errand missed, they sighed, and disappeared.
Comrades were come, the avenging battle started!
Light as strong as health lit up my heart!
 

All the hearths of home blazed up in me,
     And every sinew swelled with vengeance for
Our bodies they had pillaged - I could see
     The midday sun shrink gloom to liberty.
The smoking village as my nostrils' guide,
I strove to take my stand my men beside.
 

Then it was you found me, still by the path
     Oh my own kin, my unknown warriors!
Singing you came, like the first quickening swath
     Of fruitful light, which, heralding the day,
Boathed me. I tried to ask - for had I swoonned,
To dream of singing hands? O bowhund my wounds?
 

Upon my forehead moved a girl's cool fingera,
     Upon my ears sweet music “Comrade partisan,
Rest now in peace, your agonies are requited!”
     I reached my hands in dark towards her voice,
Without a word I touched the tender face,
The hair, grenades, and rifle af my grace.
 

Began to sob and never have ceased yet,
     With throat alone, for now I have no eyes;
With heart alone, for now my tears the knife
     Of murderers gourged away. I am deprived
Of eyes to see you, and that strength is gone
Which I so need, to fight too, till we've won.
 

But who are you, and whence? I only know
     That your light warms me. All - Sing! for I can feel
At last I live; even though I'm dying now,
     This in sweet Liberty, with Vengeance stolen
From death. Your singing gives my eyses back light,
Strong as our People, and our sun as bright.
 

~ THE END ~
Translation: © [year unknown] Alec Brown

 

 

"I dok bude posljednji čovjek govorio hrvatskim i ljudskim jezikom uopće,
JAMA
će snagom umjetničkog dosega biti trajna osuda zločina i himna čovjekove slobode,
istine i ljepote, himna ljudskog dostojanstva."

"As long as the last man speaks Croatian and the language of the humanity in general,
THE PIT, with its reach of artistic strength, is going to be everlasting condemnation of crime and hymn of the human freedom, truth and beauty, hymn of the human dignity."

 

Jure Kaštelan  (1919 - 1990)   o  Goranovoj JAMI/about Goran's THE PIT

 

 

Prijevod pogovora Jure Kaštelana: Ugo Matulić

Izvor uvodnog teksta/Source of the introductory text: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Note: Music by Johann Sebastian Bach - 22 Partita for solo violin No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004- Chaconne; Artist: Andrés Segovia/

 

 

 

     Back                                                                                                          Top of page