Radovan Pavlovski

Radovan Pavlovski

Radovan Pavlovski (Радован Павловски) – academician, poet, essayist, travelogue writer, publicist. Born on 23rd November 1937 in Nis, Serbia. Studied law and literature at the University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” in Skopje. Lived and worked in Zagreb, Croatia (1964-1982) and in Belgrade, SR Yugoslavia (1982-1985). He has lived in Skopje since 1985. Member of the Writers’ Associations of Croatia and Serbia. Member of the Macedonian P.E.N. Centre. Member of the Macedonian Writers’ Association since 1961. Member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Author of the following works: Drought, wedding and moving (poetry, 1961), Korabia (poetry, 1964), High noon (poetry, 1966) Boemia of Nature (1969), Through the crack of the sword (poetry, 1971), The sun the serpent knows nothing about (poetry, 1972), The feast (poetry, 1973), Grains (poetry, 1975), Lightnings (poetry, 1978), Guards (poetry, 1980), Plague (poetry, 1984), Unlocking the roads (travelogue, 1986), Keys (poetry, 1986), Marena (poetry, 1986), Selected works in three volumes (1986), Foundation (poetry, 1988), Grains, Lightnings and Keys (trilogy, 1989), The God of the morning (poetry, 1991), What can poetry do? (essays, 1993), The children of the Universe (poetry for children, 1993), Democratic jungle (political essays, 1994), Sound rider (poetry, 1995), The poet’s message to all poets in the World – Struga Poetry Evenings (1995), The Son of the Sun (poetry, 1999), Shield (poetry, 2001), With one eye (poetry, 2002). Author of the Manifestos: The Epic of Voting (co-author, 1960), Manifesto of the Poetic Republic of Zelezna Reka (1990).

Awards include: “Miladinov brothers”, “11th October”, “Koco Racin”, “Povelba na pecal-barite”, “Goceva povelba”, “Aco Sopov”, “Knizevno zezlo”. Foreign awards: “Mladost”, “Zlatna struna”, “24 Disova prolet”, “Risto Ratkovic”. His poetry book “Grains” has been nominated as best book by the Jugoslav Radio – Television (1975). The manuscript of “The Feast” has received an award for its high artistic merits (poetry, Croatia, 1972). He has received the world’s recognition for entire work – ABN – USA (1998). He has been presented with detailed biography and bibliography in 13th edition of the International publication “Who’s who among intellectuals” (1999) by the International Biographic Centre (Cambridge, England).

Publications abroad: His poems have been translated and published in more than 50 languages and included in various anthologies of modern Macedonian, European and world poetry. A number of volumes of his poetry have been published in translation both in Macedonia and abroad: (in Serbian) – 10 books, published in Serbia (Belgrade, Novi Sad, Cacak, Krusevac), in Montenegro (Niksic), and in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Banja Luka); (in Albanian) – Djaloshi magje, Pristina, 1977; (in Slovenian) – Rdeci in crni petelin, Maribor, 1978; (in Turkish) – Gol ulkesi surkler, Istanbul, 1973; Canim avuklarda patcadi, Skopje, 1988; Dunyanin gozbebegine gomun beni, Istanbul, 1995; (in French) – Un autre oiseau dans autre temps, Lausanne, 1982; Le Cavalier du son suivi de le Fils du Soleil, Paris, 2002; (in English) – Free Song from Iron River, Canberra, 1983; Road to the Mountains, Canberra, 1985; (in Russian) – Put na goru, Moscow, 1995; (in Czech) – Zeleni host, Praha, 1969; (in Romanian) – Maya, Bucharest, 1981; (in Esperanto) – Castelo de la Rosso, Skopje, 1991; (in Swedish) – Ljuset som vaknar middagstid, Malmo, 1998; (in Bulgarian) – Ключ за зърне и мълнии, Sofia, 2002; Храм на Мълниите, Sofia, 2009.


Once and once only by a spring
I saw a praying mantis,
a woman at her orisons,
her betrothed in her embrace
saw how she absorbed him
in their love
exchanging secrets
love and death.
Even Eros stands aside
amazed at the sight
her nature such
that the newborn
will never see their sire.
In the passionate clasp
of praying-mantis love
Casanova sees his image.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Peggy and Graham W. Reid


Your place of habitation is the mountain
there to bewail the heights
What do you seek in the city’s attics
You phosphorescent and dark bird from the land of nowhere
You fly slowly in the moonlight like a century
seeking some lost decoration from the sky
With the dry wind of your wings you have evaporated everything
And you have spent your love and you cannot fly there
where your voice has fled Oh when I return to the city
Holding a blade of grass so as not to be lonely
You welcome me with a choir of owls in the darkness
Nothing remains for us but
To lament by night that which we see by day.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


The bees return from their pastures
and on their way their honey changes to poison
You have moved or simply disappeared
A piece of magnet in the autumn forests
attracts the winds and the rain
One beast prepares evil for another
at these late hours
Vital juices,
grow to make me intoxicated with power!
The mad dog of drought appears
with a false road from madness under his feet
The sun from excessive light has no shadow
The sun has a burnt-out womb
and a black nightingale at her breast
Since I was born never short of sleep
I listen to the voice of new-born babes
Accept my breathing
With a single kiss I have opened you
and the cups have been filled with the scent of roses
We will shed a tear of joy
and we will set up house and dismantle it again
Like moss I feed on stone
I, a man from the south
who has his business
with warm currents.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


Stooping to breaking point the cattle
bellow loudly for every horn that’s lost
The heavens pay no heed.

The birds strung out in a circle
fly unswerving through the air
And we hold our palms open in prayer

The clock marks out
the heat that withers the grass
The wind scarce brings two or three drops of rain

Feet all cracked and bleeding
can crush anything in their way

The ants marking out a long black thread
bury themselves deep in the ground
And then the tardy rain begins to fall
We have open houses for a flood
My body aches all over in the water
My bird, killed by the drought, flies through the air no more
I can open my window wide
and shout till I go mad.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


There’s a smell of burning
The flame of pain will be its son
The trees unable to take shelter
lift up their knife-like branches
The animals are seized by a great madness
The nightingales play out the spring over the woods
The grasses change their mantle of colours
and in me my blood is set on fire
The thunder has struck the dead
and has unlocked time from them
O frightened grass
how can I restore your voice
to take leave of you? …
I am awakened
by a gentle earth-tremor.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


In me the life of our people lives
And with me
And the fates of our men all over the world are counted
That the seed should not remain in darkness for me
That the earth should not grow coarse and fade for me
And over the stone I open a road
I lead my progeny to the sun
In bad weather I know how to sing an anthem
And after that withdraw to the stars
To be an eternal light
To multitudes of grain and peoples.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


Scattered like dark drops of rain
In the blazing heat
They have neither a church for prayer
Nor a country to fight for
They forged a sword for others
For themselves they sang a lonely song
And the one among them whose song is sweetest
They chose for their ruler.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


Behind him – fires
And in him the crying of children,
o forest of brigandage!
Lamentation at sunset
With a sword he will dig
a grave for the moonlight.

A fateful hour strikes in his head
Loneliness brings him forth with a horse
clothed in the blood of many
Wailing will lie heavy on your heart
The gales will rob you
Rest on the point of your sword,
tearful brigand!

At the dawning of the day
a night bird takes fright at the sun
In the skull a talkative plant has burgeoned
and is lamenting over the corpse
with a lump of sugar on its blue lips
Ah, such a downing!
They block up the windows
Weddings take place as if in a prison!

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


Following the water and the light
they push through to the bowels of the earth
and they fill the eye of the sky with flowers
The roots
have ground into food every nation’s invasion
of my country – their arms
they have melted down into bronze and a sword
My roots
neither centuries nor wars nor kingdoms –
nothing could wrench them up; but rather they made the soil
still more fertile and more full of song;
to those tough southern roots
our very dwellings
are bound.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


Armies and tempests have passed through
Have left desolation
From one church to the next
From one cross to the next
Sky and sun
The earth and candles
Are interwoven
Don’t tread on my shadow
Neither before me nor behind
The roads seek a passage through me

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Peggy and Graham W. Reid


Let it drop in sometimes
from a distant star
to my country home
I love free song
like the waters that wells up
to flow
and of its own accord
choose its course and rule itself
and let free song be
everywhere with Man
like the sun,
so that it rises
but never sets.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


Through time I carry
fertility and cares,
joy and glory.

And the fruit and the cross of my country
I bear them with me –
Here are my sufferings:

And under a stone and in the sky
and in my white bed
is the same threshing of grain all bloody.

And for me at the altar
they sing of Eternity.
I am the nuptials.
And all that is birth and creation
bears my sign.

And as the darkness ever grows and grows
My star
is ever brighter.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray

For other contributions by Radovan Pavlovski, please follow the link below:

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