Monday, July 3, 2023

Dragan Dragojlović*

Dragan Dragojlović is a Serbian poet who lives in Belgrade. He has served the government of Serbia in various positions, including as Minister of Religions, and as Ambassador to Australia. He has also served as director of the Ivo Andrić Foundation, which grants scholarships to foreign students of Serbian studies.

He is the author of sixteen books of poetry (by last count) including The Book of Love (1992), Death’s Homeland (2008), and Patriarch’s Ladders (2017).

I have just finished reading Death’s Homeland, which I had not yet purchased when I posted (one year ago) about Dragan Dragojlović. What distinguishes this collection from any of his other poetry you might access, is that these are short lyrics (the poem below is the longest in the collection) dealing with the heartbreaking experience of the Yugoslav Civil War ― both the hopelessness of daily facing death, and the hope that comes through faith in God.

He has translated the work of several poets into Serbian, including that of Irish poet John F. Deane. The following poem, along with the rest of Death’s Homeland, was translated by Stanislava Lazarevic.

Glory Eternal

May glory eternal be with you
who fell
for Serbia,
may your wounds be blessed,
my brother in hope.

May all your delusions
be forgiven.
May your pain be eased
in heaven.
Forgive your murderer.
Pray for those
upon whom you have inflicted
suffering and death.

My brother in sin and misfortune,
do not criticize
my attempt to glorify
what transcends all words:
your sacrifice.

Choking with pain
to the point of screaming,
dare I wonder
whether it could have been different,
and whether history and hope
outlive our death.

I remain silent
repeating to myself:
you did what you could,
let God complete the rest.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Dragan Dragojlović: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.