Tomaz Salumun - Retha Ferguson

Born: July 4, 1941, Zagreb, Croatia. Died: December 27, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia

With his clearly rebellious entrance into literature, poet Tomaž Šalamun introduced in Slovene poetry new dimensions in terms of its form, expression, content, and ideas, which brought him extraordinary and universal attention and also earned him high notoriety internationally. He was first drawn to literary creativity through his association with the avant-garde group OHO, which followed constructivist models of the contemporary European and American poetic movements, but simultaneously he developed his personal poetics, in which this sense of visual art plays an important role.

Šalamun was born in Zagreb, spent his childhood in Ljublaja, and short periods also Mostar and Koper. He at first decided to study art history, but then poetry were strongly influenced by his stays and work in the USA and Mexico, where he complemented his poetic repertoire as well as his perspective of the world, based in the liberal, audacious, unrestrained ideas about himself and the world or, rather, about the world in himself. He became a member of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts in 2005.




Najstrašnejša skala, bela bela želja.
Voda, ki izviraš iz krvi.
Naj se mi oži oblika, naj bi zdrobi telo,
da bo vse v enem: žlindra, okostja, prgišče.

Piješ me, kot bi mi izdiral barvo duše.
Lokaš me, mušico v drobnem čolnu.
Razmazano glavo imam, čutim, kako so se
gore naredile, kako so se rodile zvezde.

Spodmaknil si mi svoje teme, tam stojim.
Poglej, v zraku, v tebi, ki si zdaj zlit in
moj. Zlate strehe se ukrivljajo pod nama,

pagodini listi. V ogromnih zelenih bonbonih
sem, nežen in trdoživ. Meglo ti postiskam v
sapo, sapo v božjo glavo v mojem vrtu, jelen.

The Deer

Awe inspiring cliff, white desire,
water springing forth from blood,
let me form narrow, let it crush my body,
so that everything is one: slag and skeletons, fistful of earth.

You drink me, draining off the color of my soul.
You lap me up, like a fly in a tiny boat.
My head is smeared, I see how
mountains were made, how stars were born.

You pulled your brow out from under me. There I stand.
Look, in the air. Within you, drained, all
mine. Golden roofs bend up under us,

small pagoda leaves. I’m in silken candies,
gentle and tenacious. I funnel the fog into your
breath, and your breath into the godhead of my garden, the deer.

Translated from the Slovenian by Michael Biggins.

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