A poem from the Blue Violet River

petak, 18. septembar 2020.

Mak Dizdar has a close affinity with Homer’s Odyssey. Mak poignantly reconstructs the Odyssey into a modern, existential verse. The voice in Mak's poetry is always Odysseus’ voice. Unless one recognizes this relation as primary, Mak’s work cannot be fully appreciated. 

Here is a poem from the Blue Violet River collection in preparation for printing, translated by Keith Doubt and Bojana Vuković Drndić in collaboration with Wayles Browne, Sandra Zlotrg, and Sophia Reutter (Sarajevo: Buybook).



Od Dalekih paklenih vrata

do Sunca od zlata


Od hladne zemlje Kimera

do bezdna himera


Od Čarobne sokolice

do Tajne ptice


Od onog neba visokog

do vode duboke


Od one što razdire

do ove što pije


Od onih što u pijevu

ubiše se u gnjevu


Do ostavljenih kiklopa

i njinih stopa


Između nedohoda

i nedođina


Ovu bol koja luta

što ne proguta


Šta čeka ta neman

kad ništa više nemam


Do duge moje tuge

i teške šutnje


Od srebrne zvijezde

do praznine


Od toga tvoga nemila

do toga moga





From the far hellish gates

to the sun of gold


From the cold earth of Chimera

to the abyss of chimeras


From the magical falconet

to the secret bird


From the high sky

To the deep water


From the one that tears apart

to the one that drinks


From those that in song

killed themselves in anger


To the abandoned Cyclops

and their footsteps


Between the pathless

and never ending


This pain that wanders

why doesn't it swallow


What does the monster wait for

when I have nothing more


Than my long sorrow

and heavy silence


From the silver star

to the void


From your merciless 

to my 



Modra rijeka is a re-writing or, perhaps better, writing-over Homer’s Odyssey. We imagine that if today Homer were to read Mak’s verses, he would smile; he would feel he had been understood and his verse was indeed timeless. Without denying Mak’s identity as a Bosnian poet and without colonizing this identity, this English translation of Modra rijeka introduces and demonstrates clearly Mak’s powerful relation to the ancient Greeks and why this relation is not just a compelling one, but an essential one for appreciating his work in the wider context of world literature. 

Keith Doubt, associate


Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Wittenberg University. His teaching interests include Social Theory, American Social Character, Sociology of Mental Health, Sociology of War, and Interdisciplinary Courses. He is the editor of the interdisciplinary, bilingual journal, Duh Bosne / Spirit of Bosnia. The journal disseminates scholarly research and writing on the history, politics, and literature of Bosnia-Herzegovina to honor and preserve the long-standing traditions of social and civil order that created Bosnia's heritage. The journal has been publishing quarterly for more than ten years.


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