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The Golden Apple

A Round of Stories, Songs, Spells, Proverbs and Riddles

Edited by Vasko Popa

Translated by Andrew Harvey and Anne Pennington

10% off
Series: Poetica
Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (104 pages)
(Pub. Apr 2010)
£8.95 £8.05
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Editor

    Nothing Can Be Hidden

    Two lovers kissed in a meadow
    They thought no one saw them
    The green meadow saw them
    Told the white flock
    The flock told its shepherd
    The shepherd told a traveller
    The traveller told a ferryman
    The ferryman told his walnut boat
    The boat told the cold water
    The water told the girl ’s mother
    The girl was furious

    “Meadow, may you never be green!
    White flock, may wolves eat you!
    Shepherd, may the Turks hack you down!
    Traveller, may your legs rot !
    Ferryman, may water carry you off!
    Ferry-boat, burn! Water, dry up!”


    The Dark Country

    Once upon a time, there was a king who came with his
    army to the end of the world, and went into the dark
    country, where you can’t see anything. He left the foals
    of the mares he had with him on the other side, so the
    mares would be certain to lead them back.

    When they went into the dark country and were
    moving through it, they kept feeling small stones under
    their feet. Something called out from the darkness “He
    who takes some of these stones will regret it, and he who
    takes none of them will regret it.” Some of them thought
    “Well, if I regret it, why bother?” Some thought “Well,
    why not take one, at least?”

    When they came out of the dark, they saw these were
    precious stones. Those who took none regretted they
    hadn’t taken any; those who took some regretted they
    hadn’t taken more.

    A delightful selection from one of the richest traditions of folk literature in Europe. The universal qualities of these poems, stories, riddles and proverbs will appeal to a wide range of readers, including children. Since Yugoslav folklore is so much a part of Vasko Popa’s own poetic world, readers of his poetry will find the book especially rewarding for the insight into his sources which it provides.

    In making his original compilation, Popa followed his own poetic taste, gathering pieces he himself loved, and finding ‘great joy in bringing the little-known and undervalued beauties of old riddles, proverbs, spells and counting-rhymes out of the shadows into daylight.’ Translatability has been the key factor in making this English selection, which is illustrated with traditional Serbian rug motifs. The vitality of Popa’s material is wonderfully conveyed in this adaptation by Andrew Harvey and Anne Pennington.

    Vasko Popa
    Vasko Popa (1922–1991) was born in the Banat district of Yugoslavia. During World War II he fought with a partisan group; afterwards he studied in Vienna and Bucharest before completing his education at the University of Belgrade. He was elected to the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1972 and ... read more
    Andrew Harvey
    Andrew Harvey was born in 1952 in South India. At 21 he became the youngest person ever to be awarded a fellowship to All Soul’s College, Oxford. He is an internationally renowned religious scholar, writer, teacher, and the author of more than 30 books. See: ... read more
    Anne Pennington
    Anne Pennington (1934–1981) was a Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford where she held the university’s Chair of Comparative Slavonic Philology. Her translations include Poems by Blaže Koneski (1979) and Vasko Popa's anthology The Golden Apple (Anvil, 1980 and 2010), both with Andrew Harvey; Marko the Prince: Serbo-Croat Heroic Songs (1984) ... read more
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