Mateja Matevski

Mateja Matevski

Mateja Matevski (b. 1929 in Istanbul) is a renowned Macedonian poet, literary and theatre critic, essayist and translator. Graduated from the Faculty of Philology in Skopje. Worked as a journalist for Macedonian Radio and Television as editor of the cultural and literary programme; editor-in-chief and director of the Television as well as Director General of Radio Television Skopje. He also held the function of President of the Commission for Cultural Relations Abroad and was a member of the Presidency of Macedonia. Was an editor for the Kočo Racin publishing house. Professor of History of World Drama and a professor at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Skopje. Was editor of the literary journals Mlada literatura and Razgledi. One-time president of the Macedonian Writers’ Association, president of the Council of the Struga Poetry Evenings Festival, the Racinovi sredbi Festival and Macedonian Literary Foundation. Member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and honorary vice-president of the Macedonian P.E.N. Centre. Member of the Macedonian Writers’ Association since 1956. Corresponding member of the North-American Academy in the Spanish language.

Published books: Rains (poetry, 1956), The Equinox (poetry, 1963), Irises (poetry, 1976), The Circle (poetry, 1977), Lime Tree (poetry, 1980), The Birth of Tragedy (poetry, 1985), From Tradition to the Future (criticism and essays, 1987), Drama and Theatre (theatre criticism and essays, 1987), Moving Away (poetry, 1990), Black Tower (poetry, 1992), Carry Away (poetry, 1996), The Light of the Word (criticism and essays), The Dead One (poetry, 1999), Inner Area (poetry, 2000), Beyond Oblivion (poetry, 2003), Landscapes Under Water (poetry, 2006), Voice Under Ramparts (poetry, 2008), Origins (poetry 2008), Elegies for you (Requiem for Racin) (2009) etc.

Awards include: Macedonian Writers’ Association Award, “Miladinov Brothers”, “11th October”, “Grigor Prličev”, “Kočo Racin”, Book of the year – Macedonian literary foundation, “Praznik na lipite”, “Kliment Ohridski”, The great award “Makedonsko slovo”, “Kiril Pejčinović”, “Goranov Venec” (Lukovdol, Croatia), “Blez Sandrar” (Iverdon, Switzerland), Premio Mediterraneo “- Special Award (Palermo, Italy), Fernando Rielo – World Award for Mystical Poetry – for the book The Black Tower (Madrid, Spain), Župančićeva listina, Slovenian Writers’ Association (Ljubljana, Slovenia), Atlantida (Las Palmas, Spain). Holder of the French Legion of Honour, Arts and Literature.

More than thirty books of his poetry have been published in more than twenty foreign languages. He has published over forty books of translations from Spanish, French, Slovenian, Russian, Albanian and Serbian.

The wild olive

I watch as that dry branch is struggling
from a gnarl in the bark
from its hardness
to squeeze out a blossom
A flock of birds confusedly gazes at a rustling leaf
Time suddenly erupts thickens surges up from the sap
which inaudibly rings with spring
in its veins
A miracle occurs and the old bark
sprouts tiny wisps of foliage
like screams of winter birds
perishing far away
The olive merges with the spring blossom
of the trees
and waits
for its fruit
And that slowly appears in the small seeds of the wild tree
which adorn its parched body
And while all round the fruits are swelling
it is flooded with longing for an unfulfilled birth
Only its perfume like a distant cloud
of jasmine lemons lilies
of the most beautiful flowers
is slowly wafted under the low branches
where it mingles with the boundlessness of longing
and the delirium of a barren spring
With it you now inhale
the beauty of the miracle of spring
and the deaf tumult
of your grief

Mateja Matevski
© translation by Ewald Osers

A glance towards Troy

Sartre, Euripides The Trojan Women

There is no return to Troy
Only the curse remains uttered from Earth’s womb
to follow our shadow
to freeze our blood

There is no return
Distant are the gardens illuminated by the darkened
barren light
that feeds the glowing thought

The dust of the dead is sifted
by the inland turmoil of desire

The distant city is shaken
by the hatred of the sword
and the immeasurable power that spills
the blood of our blood

Neither in the heart of scattered hope
nor in the light
of the dear remnants of love
There is no return
Our country – it is this smoke
rising skywards – perishing.

Mateja Matevski
© translation by Zoran Anchevski

Entry into the garden

The garden opens to the rain like a bloom to a glance
in which lives the forgotten world of what’s fulfilled
Don’t wake the seeds which sleep deep down
in the earth’s darkness
The time will come for their roar
spread by the roots’ rainbow
Entry into the garden is a slow entering
into the trap of time
which only the word can open
Catch it in the wind catch it in the painful root
of beautiful things
before it speaks to you in the language of insects
which draw their cloud over the roses
Their scent is mingling with the rainbow’s colour
that lives in the dream’s darkness
until some variable weather enters the garden
to uproot it
to raise it up
and blow it over the leaves

The word is not yet born but already
it’s giving birth
all about

Mateja Matevski
© translation by Ewald Osers


He thought that after accomplishing his task
the right moment had arrived
for his deed to be recorded accepted and celebrated
in times to come
But being so engulfed in his thought of blazing glory
he could not grasp
that many others before him had covered
the great distance between the sword and the city
and that it could happen only once
that the valley of Marathon was conquered
because of that single word that outlives
even his own dust

Mateja Matevski
© translation by Zoran Anchevski

On the subject of Icarus

Not at all
towards the centre
of that warm swamp
of the sky

Swarms of bees
settle in his wings
A bird that thinks
An unfamiliar mote
in the eye of the sun

Madness they’ll say
but also great courage

He rises
he rises
towards his crash
unconcerned with his shadow

Mateja Matevski
© translation by Ewald Osers

On the subject of Ulysses

To return from far away
after days and years
after created after perfected horror
as if from outer space
from orbiting through darkness
through emptiness
To disembark
step on earth that spins with stars deep inside it
from conquered emptiness
into another that awaits you
like love

The sea no longer obediently roars
under your oar
but sea-monsters and sharp rocks on the shore
still lie in wait
Only the surf of unextinguished hope of youth
whips up your blood
sets the course of the stars

And you move you move with but one roar in your mind
discovering yourself in space
having lost your way in your own sea of dreams
as in a wood
while a sweet shudder of the unknown
runs over the vast sea’s skin

Your mind which knows that to travel
is better than to arrive
unlocks the words’ closed cages
and a song is born
And when after so many oars and voices drowned
in the treacherous waters
the dawn settles on your face
with white hand drawing the long-sought space
upon your forehead
know then that it is time

Time you spoke up with a new tongue
before the eyes of the world
with the new words
for which it’s thirsting
before you cross the familiar threshold
of rocks and monsters
the blood’s dark threshold
Threshold of song
and story
with which you enter into life

Mateja Matevski
© translation by Ewald Osers

Published with the permission of Mateja Matevski through Goce Aleksoski, International Department Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts