Dejan Stojanovic – Ancient Roman Villa

Dejan Stojanovic, Picture

Dejan Stojanovic, Chicago, 1991

Here lies once splendid ancient Roman Villa in ruins. Remnants of a gorgeous mosaic—Venus and a flying dove on the floor—of big gardens, fountains and pools talk about her rich and lively history.

The Roman wealthy patrician did not think of us looking at the mosaic of his Villa. He built it for posterity, yet desired to live longer than his creation. He thought he could deceive the uncompromising ruler—time. Although there was no real stock market then, he had his own treasury; he thought the treasury will live longer even than his Villa to support his posterity—buy them power, fame.

We can almost hear and see the water that once sprinkled from fountains; hear giggles and secret stories shared in the gardens among his children and servants; we can imagine his demeanor at the extravagant parties he loved; bacchanalias in the secret rooms of the Villa.

Here lies the ancient Roman Villa in ruins and little is known of her once larger-than-life owner, and even less about his stock, treasury, and posterity.

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The Sun Watches Itself – Dejan Stojanovic

The Sun Watches Itself (Sunce sebe gleda), Dejan Stojanovic

The second collection of Dejan Stojanovic’s verse, “The Sun is Watching Itself,” is covered by a metaphysical and philosophical veil. Eleven segments are connected by these two abstract approaches and by such key images as a circle, suggesting infinity, and silence, reflecting space and eternity. The circle serves as a powerful symbol and a device of the perpetual in this poetry: “the end without endlessness is only a new beginning,” claims the poet. Thus, one of the poems bears the title “God and Circle,” symbolizing the perennial search for an exit and the eventual finding of one, which only leads into another circle and to continuous evolution. This prompts Stojanovic to pose the question “Is God himself a Circle?”–implying that God is endless and ever present.

Although concise, the poems convey in a powerful and specific manner messages from the triad circle-God-eternity, connected by man’s destiny and the poet’s concept of human life and origins, and of the universe itself. In other words, microcosmic observations lead to macrocosmic revelations and didactic conclusions. The poems seem to teach us what is obvious in the context of common sense, often surprisingly remote to the modern man.

In terms of style and format, the author has a coextensional approach; he uses relatively simple expressions and words in an interplay of brilliant meanings that bring about highly complex but easily readable structures. If elegance is represented by simplicity, then these are some of the most elegant verses imaginable; unadorned verses that are a source of beauty and wisdom.

Stojanovic’s perceptions of light and darkness, of fantasy and reality, of truth and falsehood present us with a circular format of infinity and resurrection.

The format has its logical beginning and end. “The Sun is Watching Itself” begins with poems dedicated to God and the universe, then descends from the metaphysical to the philosophical, focusing on more ordinary such us the symbolic meaning of a stone, a game, a place, silence, hopelessness, and the question “Is it possible to write a poem?” Stojanovic’s collection might well serve as an affirmative answer to this question. The poet has taken us on a long journey from God and universe to our everyday world. We all seem to be a part of a circle, says the author, searching for the eternal in the universe, only to realize the finality of life on earth. The poet’s message is doubly effective for its extraordinary, soul-searching content and its reflective, powerful language.

-Branko Mikasinovich, Washington, D.C.
WLT World Literature Today, A Literary Quarterly of the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
Volume 74, Number 2, Page 442, Spring 2000

 

Places We Love by Ivan V. Lalic

Places we love exist only through us,
Space destroyed is only illusion in the constancy of time,
Places we love we can never leave,
Places we love together, together, together,

And is this room really a room, or an embrace,
And what is beneath the window: a street or years?
And the window is only the imprint left by
The first rain we understood, returning endlessly,

And this wall does not define the room, but perhaps the night
Your son began to move in your sleeping blood,
A son like a butterfly of flame in your hall of mirrors,
The night you were frightened by your own light,

And this door leads into any afternoon
Which outlives it, forever peopled
With your casual movements, as you stepped,
Like fire into copper, into my only memory;

When you go, space closes over like water behind you,
Do not look back: there is nothing outside you,
Space is only time visible in a different way,
Places we love we can never leave.

Ivan V. Lalic (1931-1996)

 

The Spaces of Hope by Ivan V. Lalic

I have experienced the spaces of hope,
The spaces of a moderate mercy. Experienced
The places which suddenly set
Into a random form: a lilac garden,
A street in Florence, a morning room,
A sea smeared with silver before the storm,
Or a starless night lit only
By a book on the table. The spaces of hope
Are in time, not linked into
A system of miracles, nor into a unity;
They merely exist. As in Kanfanar,
At the station; wind in a wild vine
A quarter-century ago: one space of hope.
Another, set somewhere in the future,
Is already destroying the void around it,
Unclear but real. Probable.

In the spaces of hope light grows,
Free of charge, and voices are clearer,
Death has a beautiful shadow, the lilac blooms later,
But for that it looks like its first-ever flower.

Picture

Ivan V. Lalic

A Forgetful Number by Vasko Popa

 

Once upon a time there was a number
Pure and round like the sun
But alone very much alone
It began to reckon with itself

It divided multiplied itself
It subtracted added itself
And remained always alone

It stopped reckoning with itself
And shut itself up in its round
And sunny purity

Outside were left the fiery
Traces of its reckoning

They began to chase each other through the dark
To divide when they should have multiplied themselves
To subtract when they should have added themselves

That’s what happens in the dark

And there was no one to ask it
To stop the traces
And to rub them out.

Picture

Vasko Popa (1922-1991)

Dejan Stojanovic — The Sun Watches Itself

The second collection of Dejan Stojanovic’s verse, The Sun Watches Itself, is covered by a metaphysical and philosophical veil. Eleven segments are connected by these two abstract approaches and by such key images as a circle, suggesting infinity, and silence, reflecting space and eternity. The circle serves as a powerful symbol and a device of the perpetual in this poetry: “the end without endlessness is only a new beginning,” claims the poet. Thus, one of the poems bears the title “God and Circle,” symbolizing the perennial search for an exit and the eventual finding of one, which only leads into another circle and to continuous evolution. This prompts Stojanovic to pose the question “Is God himself a Circle?”—implying that God is endless and ever present.

Although concise, the poems convey in a powerful and specific manner messages from the triad circle-God-eternity, connected by man’s destiny and the poet’s concept of human life and origins, and of the universe itself. In other words, microcosmic observations lead to macrocosmic revelations and didactic conclusions. The poems seem to teach us what is obvious in the context of common sense, often surprisingly remote to the modern man.

In terms of style and format, the author has a coextensional approach; he uses relatively simple expressions and words in an interplay of brilliant meanings that bring about highly complex but easily readable structures. If elegance is represented by simplicity, then these are some of the most elegant verses imaginable, unadorned verses that are a source of beauty and wisdom. Stojanovic’s perceptions of light and darkness, of fantasy and reality, of truth and falsehood present us with a circular format of infinity and resurrection.

The format has its logical beginning and end. The Sun Watches Itself begins with poems dedicated to God and the universe, then descends from the metaphysical to the philosophical, focusing on more ordinary such us the symbolic meaning of a stone, a game, a place, silence, hopelessness, and the question ”Is it possible to write a poem?”

Stojanovic’s collection might well serve as an affirmative answer to this question. The poet has taken us on a long journey from God and universe to our everyday world. We all seem to be a part of a circle, says the author, searching for the eternal in the universe, only to realize the finality of life on earth. The poet’s message is doubly effective for its extraordinary, soul-searching content and its reflective, powerful language.

-Branko Mikasinovich, Washington, D.C.
WLT World Literature Today, A Literary Quarterly of the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
Volume 74, Number 2, Page 442, Spring 2000

Dejan Stojanovic, The Sun Watches Itself
(Sunce sebe gleda), Belgrade, 1999