Beat and whirl with waves and slap the sand,
let it toll this bell of wind and light.
Lake, you swell, and your unquenched tolling
quenches into the shore which is caving in.
You’ll be here when I’m stuck behind some hill without you;
there you’ll open fresh inside me like a clam,
like a valley you’ll lie down in my eyes,
a pain I cannot see.
Sometimes you won’t seem real for days and days.
Often I will think of you as only
fire which is secretly consumed,
someone’s heart or someone’s blood on fire.
You’re a threat when you rise, a shout that glitters;
of all that driftstuff digging in before you
only shadows stay, and sand on the shore
that drinks you into its thirst.
When I’m lost with maps out in that wasteland,
that dumb plain scabbed with black skin
which hears not water but grating springs,
the clatter of two heavy words,
you rise and rinse the crumbling land’s end.
You drown in your beauty, suck it far from the tolling.
Water, will know, water will dream everything.
Beat with waves, wheel over, lake; beat, beat.
Aco Šopov, Reader of Ashes (Гледач во пепелта), 1970
Imitation by Roderick Jellema from a translation by Graham W. Reid in Reading the Ashes, An Anthology of the Poetry of Modern Macedonia, 1977.
Pound, wave. Whirlwind, whirl. Pound the shore.
Ring out, bell of light and wind!
You are rising, lake, but your bottomless howl
dwindles together with the crumbling sand.
You are here, but I’ll lose you pressed behind some hill;
alone, but like a shell you open within me,
and into my sight you fall as into a dry ravine
with a kind of pang obscure and distant.
Then I know, lake: again you’ll be gone a long time,
and for the millionth time again I will feel
that you are fire, a secretly stolen flame
to burn someone’s heart, to burn someone’s blood.
But you rise with menace, with howling, with splendor,
and whatever might try in vain to escape you,
nothing will remain except shadow and sand—
the sand on the shore that thirstily drinks you.
And already that limitless drought I sense,
that unspeaking realm overgrown with black crust,
which listens not to you but to thirsting springs
as if to the rolling of two heavy words.
O lake, you are rising and with you the shore crumbles.
Hide behind your beauty. Take the shape of a howl.
The water will grasp everything, the water will dream it.
Pound, wave. Whirlwind, whirl. Pound, lake, pound.
Aco Šopov, Reader of the Ashes (Гледач во пепелта), 1970
Translated by Rawley Grau and Christina E. Kramer, 2022