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. 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.
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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.
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 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.
Then even seemed our presence was forgotten; We heard them yawn and break their wind at leisure. Thus passed their noon, in wine or cooling water - Ours passed on burning wire, strung for the slaughter. So one is saved, I told my night of it, No knew they led our steps towards the pit.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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.
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 Granny! 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. 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!
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! 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! 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. 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. Be brave! 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.
At last twast done; with grass-filled mouth I lay Twixt fire and ice, exhausted beyond sense, But saved! 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! Or, by the threshold, sunshine at my feet?
No weeping - only oaths and bawdy yells. The moon above a ruined village stands. 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. 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? 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. But who are you, and whence? I only know That your light warms me. All - Sing!
Ivan Goran Kovačić
Krv je moje svjetlo i moja tama. 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! A mi smo dalje u smijanju dugu Plakali, praznih duplja, mrtvu tugu. Dobaci netko, uz primjedbe masne. Vikala je: - Gori!