I lie down tonight while dying August
sings ashy petals that shoot clean through its terror.
My forehead is loam for vine of stars
that swells with golden grapes, and ripens.
I lie here in August, my skull knotted to earth.
Will they hold out, can they stop me,
those lines of attacking troops of plant and seed,
of grass, root and fern?
Lie and wait here. Lie still as stick.
Let the night drink you, let the wind lash,
the fisherman down in your eyes weave gossamer nets,
deep in your waiting there sleeps a golden fish.
I stay awake to feel the August, all the changes.
The high golden grapes like eyeballs are silvering out.
Beneath us the dark sun drifts to its midnight zenith.
Still I lie, tangled and held by grass and fern.
Aco Šopov, Reader of the Ashes (Гледач во пепелта), 1970
Translated by Graham W. Reid and Roderick Jelemma in Reading the ashes, An Anthology of the Poetry of Modern Macedonia, 1977.
I lie under the branches of night, in August that dies and sings
with a blossom of ashes and smothered horror
From its forehead, as if from black soil,
grow the grapes of a starry vine.
I lie in the night of August, my body nailed to the earth.
Will they hold out? Can they stop me,
these rows of tireless warriors, herbs and seeds,
grass, nettle and fern?
Lie and wait here, motionless as a stone.
Let the night drink you. Let the wind whip you.
The fishermen weave their invisible nets in your eyes,
a golden fish sleeps in the depths of your waiting.
I lie down and know it is August and all is changing.
The golden grapes are transparent like eyes’ pupils
The sun of midnight travels toward its zenith
And I still lie captive, chained by grass and fern.
Inspired by the Skopje earthquake in 1963, the poem was first published in the literary magazine Sovremenost, XV, 6, 1965.