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Black Sun

1.

You have neither east nor west, black sun,
neither sky for prayer nor ground for battle.

And everyone wishing to drink from your glory
is banished from both heaven and hell.

The grass bends, the trees run barefoot
before your burning blossom pregnant with black ashes.

You black sun, bird turned into a star,
those who think they know you, don’t know the abyss.

Black sun, blackness with no east or west,
black sun, an offering for the thirsty on the shore.

2.

From what unknown lands, oh black sun,
did you alight like a bird pecking at a living tree?

What magician sent you, what secret power,
oh rainbow hanging over numerous Volgas and Niles.

What is that heavenly girdle, that colourful strip
stretching between all dark galaxies and us two continents.

Shall I suffer for you before I know what suffering is,
before I see you as a heavenly rampart?

Oh black sun, oh song, who puts you on my shoulders
and makes me carry you like the head I don’t have.

3.

Where do you take me now, what deaf cave
will know how to cherish what we have to share?

Though blind, the stars gaze at us.
We are in this world like two layers of coal.

Who stands above us building,
burying us alive in a forlorn pyramid.

Oh song, earth, woman, oh-life-in-death, death-in-life,
I’ll quench my thirst with what you’ve brought me today.

You have neither east nor west, black sun,
in vain I beseech you I attack you with prayer.

Aco Šopov, Reader of ashes (Гледач во пепелта), 1970
Translated by Zoran Ančevski and Dragi Mihajlovski

1.

You have no east, black sun, nor have you any west,
neither sky for praying to nor land for waging war.

And anyone who desires to drink fully of your glory
is banished from hell and banished from heaven.

The meadow grass droops, the trees run barefoot
from your flower, which burns and carries black ash.

Black sun, bird dressed in the guise of a star,
whoever thinks they know you knows not the abyss.

Black sun, black with neither east nor west,
black sun for the thirsty who step onto the shore.

2.

From what unknown land did you end up here,
black sun, bird pecking at a living tree?

What sorcerer sent you, by what secret might,
rainbow over three hundred Volgas, across three hundred Niles?

What celestial belt is this, what bright-colored ribbon that runs
from all the dark galaxies to us—two continents?

Must I suffer the pain of you now, before I know what suffering is,
before I see you as a barricade across the universe?

Black sun, O song, who was it who set you here,
for me to carry on my shoulders in place of my head?

3.

Where are you leading me now? What soundless cave
will know how to safeguard all that we will have?

The stars are gazing at us, but the stars are blind.
We are alone in the world, like two rocks conjoined.

Who is it standing over us? Who lays brick on brick,
to bury us alive in a lifeless pyramid?

O song, land, woman, O life and death at once,
whatever you bring me today I will thirstily drink up.

You have no east, black sun, nor have you any west,
In vain I pray to you—with a prayer of war.

Aco Šopov, Reader of the Ashes (Гледач во пепелта), 1970
Translated by Rawley Grau and Christina Kramer, 2022