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Stone Sleeper

Mak Dizdar

Translated by Francis R. Jones

Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (160 pages)
(Pub. Nov 2009)
9780856463976
Out of Stock
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  • Excerpt
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    Unwilling Warrior

    This old head has lived through many a war
    From the hills of the north to the south sea’s shore

    And glory wreathed it everywhere
    To the horn and sackbut’s warring blare

    In a single battle I caught two wounds
    But they healed my wounds with a flower’s juice

    Until I lost my right hand in a final fight
    And all my glory and praise vanished in bloody days

    Glory like mist which rises into the skies
    Glory like straw which blazes up and dies

    To be given back my shilling is nothing new on earth
    To be left alone on an empty road is poor reward

    They whispered round me Nowt that’s what his life were worth
    They do not know that wounded I still overheard

    Nor do they know that I will deal my final blow
    To this evil fate whose ways are known

    To me alone

    Translated by Francis R. Jones

    Inspired by tombstones and their inscriptions, Mak Dizdar’s rich and haunting poems in Stone Sleeper, his most famous work, are a journey into the mysterious heart of medieval Bosnia. The poems form a three-way dialogue between the modern poet, the Christian heretics awaiting Judgement Day beneath their enigmatically-carved tombstones, and the heretic-hunters. Beneath the local and temporal, Dizdar explores universal issues: the value of resistance, though it might be futile; of faith, though it might be illusory; and of life, though it ends in death. His vision of life and death owes much to the Gnostic traditions, Christian and Muslim, depicting life as a passage between ‘tomb and stars’.

    Francis R. Jones’s inventive and beautiful translations convey his deep understanding of Dizdar’s purpose. In addition a penetrating analysis of Stone Sleeper’s historical, religious and spiritual background is given by the distinguished scholar Rusmir Mahmutćehajić.

    Mak Dizdar
    Mehmed Alija ‘Mak’ Dizdar (1917–1971), considered one of the greatest Yugoslav writers, was born in Stolac, southern Bosnia. After the war, in which he was a partisan in Tito’s army, he became a prominent figure in Bosnian cultural life, working as newspaper editor, as book publisher and, finally, as President of ... read more
    Francis R. Jones
    Francis R. Jones translates poetry from various European languages – especially from Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian and Dutch into English, though he has also worked from Russian, Hungarian and Caribbean creoles, and into Geordie and Yorkshire dialect. Among his solo book-length translations are six collections by Ivan V. Lalić. Jones’s poetry translations have won ... read more
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