Monday, April 23, 2018

Edvard Kocbek

Edvard Kocbek (1904—1981) is a Slovenian Catholic poet and essayist. In his youth he joined the Sloven Christian Socialists, and by 1937 had written a controversial article criticizing the Spanish clergy for supporting Franco in the Spanish Civil War. In seeking to resist the fascist threat, Kocbek became associated with the Communist party of Slovenia, and eventually held a minor position in the government of Yugoslavia.

His 1951 short story collection Fear and Courage, however, dealt with issues the Slovenian partisans had faced during WWII. The Communist government reacted strongly against it — banning him from publishing or appearing in public. It wasn’t until 1964 that he was permitted to begin publishing again. The newer modernist poems he began publishing at this time became very influential on the new generation of poets writing in the Slovenian language. Encyclopedia Britannica describes him as “one of the finest of Slovene writers.”

The following is from Nothing Is Lost: Selected Poems, translated by Michael Scammell and Veno Taufer (Princeton University Press).

O Noise of Waters, Collapse of the Universe

O noise of waters, collapse of the universe,
woman, put your ear to my side,
yonder stretches eternal solemnity, hold my
hand, I cannot tell you how
thunderous is this magnificence, clasp me tight
bright death is bursting my body, my eyes
see no more, my ears hear no more,
my heart spills onto the nocturnal grass,
the heaving wind tears at me, I fall sweetly apart,
the earth is not finished yet. O terrible
Son of the living God, I mutely implore you, help
me in my love.

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.