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.


Little bunches of fragrant herbs:
Byzantine, Roman,
Turkish bunches …

All tied together –
redolent with balm.

The black flea of the plague
has perished
in the insurgent’s
fiery bed.

We with our bare hands,
with hoes and mattocks,
have buried many empires.

The defeated sip their sherbet.
An invisible boundary
of pungent peppers
flowers for the empire,
stings the eyes.

The Vardar remembers in a dream
that aniseed* should grow here.

A little open porch
in a small village. A wide expanse of sea,
a tooth and a stone,
a sword and a single straw.

* used for making the Greek drink, ouzo

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


I have wed my soul to long roads and called it
eternity locked in a high tide. Lightning uncovers
my nocturnal smile.
At dawn I resemble a seller of loud trumpets
picked up in the night. My mother halloos to me from the hills,
My soul is not some bee to be brought back from the storm of the city
I am too busy re-shaping everything
in love the body is confirmed and the soul is praised
and I forgive the dead all their illdoing.
Even so, violet monotony asks: where are we sailing?
Which to do in times like this, nibbled away by too many
themselves links in the chain of exiled years and darling illusions.
Time runs after clothing in the theatres and national museums.
If I think of it, I have every right to go naked,
to preach sermons in the rain about reasons for shipwrecks,
after all, nobody can hear better than me
the music of deserts in motion.
In the rotation of the universe can be heard
our own heartbeat our own fairytales
I graft my own soul onto the winds
in order to reach landscapes you may never discover.
People commit suicide because they want monuments of gold
and that’s sad – like birth, it is painful –
it’s a wish to revive all senses yet
being forced to remain silent with only a candle.
A few more sighs like this and I’d lose my own freedom
that any wind from across the lake could whirl me like petals.
Invisible gods, lay off! It’s no use
You can only pester me with regrets – baby stuff.
You can only steal the earth from under my feet.
Each pallid Narcissus of yours can go to hell
so can the soil that nourishes them
I’ll have nothing to do with those who have cursed me
as Poet – unsightly, dealing in eternities
like the wind I exist everywhere, scattering everything
and certainly I cannot exist among all I extol
I have something to do with demons
and there are still a few unsung bits of my soul
which will enable me to roam the world.
Why should I be guilty
because the birth of a song is like an agitated sea?

He who can endure fatigue
will understand the song and keep quiet.
Through binoculars of stone I observe the sea. It approaches.

In the end I am reminded by a touch of beauty
and in the sight of oceans what is one of my tears?
The flow is in me and lifts me up
counting waves within like teeth of a comb
so what if you ignore me like you ignore even the heavens
so what if you cast me out
so all the more reason I celebrate
I leave a goblet of bitter spirits at the crossroads
the crossroads of disappearances happy journeys and leave me alone
I have become a moving refuge harbouring those beauties
you have banished.
I can take apart every star
down to its light forms and minutes
and reset it again with a kiss
My fiery land of melted rings and bells
I can take in the palm of my hand to become seashore
over which flutters
a scarf of rainbows.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


The dark blue drum of the Deluge
beats low over all the hills
and the house on the shore vibrates with the coming disaster.
The sky will burden our heads
with all the heaviness of water.
O, beautiful world,
The harvest should be burned now, now.
End your flight now, bird,
there is no time to carry burdens
this is the time of the death of feet
I saw in the dark granaries how the seeds
sprouted quickly, unseasonally, and I was afraid.
On the seventh day over all skies
the shadow was dragged across. It was the Deluge.

Heavy summer. Thunder like sharp pikes.
My horse runs
out of darkness into a patch of momentary light
and I watch it knowing my fear has already entered
this poem. The sky crouches low, with axes
to extinguish the white moon.
You, my edgy horse with your black head
and your hoofs that strike sparks
I am ignited by your energy
I spend the night where you are, hidden in your secret shelter
plant whispers to plant above my head
there are deep waters here
and I have a star
that uncovers your drowning thought.

My horse has entered the ninth heaven
All I sowed at the first gave birth to tears
It was a cross to put its burden on the bread
and on the cold wine. The Deluge
is a shadow that still echoes ominously in the sky.
My bedstead offers no safe haven or escape.
Here there is water, it wants to see me drown.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


Let me sit down and get my breath on this sunbaked crest
Let me dig up ancient gold and clothed
In royal raiment of ancient times let me appear and call out
Let me bring down the moon on to the earth
And find her kisses and her progeny
All this only on the road to the River where
Dropping in from the Universe she meets me again
In the warmth of first words and ripe blackberries
Among the little girls and the streams of the River
On the stone cast by God here on the threshold
Let me tread
Let me cross myself

And in a dream let me find – the Sun

That constant thing
That I look at
And that looks at me.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


Sleep and I will watch
and cure you with my touch
with a whisper of grasses
We have wandered enough the whole day full of gloom
like seekers after gold
A magic seed retires in sleep
Watchful over your loneliness
it opens up a wide space
We made love in a little deserted garden
now a breeze blows us towards autumn
Sleep and I will watch
from the air I pluck
a magic handkerchief
and I turn the storm to stone.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


Give back that blue stone to the waters in whose coffer is locked
the flowering of the grasses, the tides of the sea.
My heart was ripening with the corn;
the sun at midday brings out illness again indoors;
I put a flower to absorb the air; and in the meadows bullocks were fighting,
all around it smelt of war, an unseen war, and afterwards a wedding,

for I and Maya were born as king and queen
married by the tides, and ruined by the rains.
Red fruit glowed over my bed. A shadow from the forest
stopped before my window.
The shadow that hid us secretly meeting in the forest.
It was the month when the cornel’s yellow blooms were dropping on the snow.
It was the month of our love. The moonlight like a black nun
walks among the tall flowers. I ask the earth’s gravity where it had hidden itself.
O Maya, dew and fire
to make the corn grow and milk boil over on the hearth.
In vain! A dramatic shadow from the theatres
wanders over the roads quite lost.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


If I die
Carry me
On a bier of metaphors

Don’t ever lower me
From the shore of one sea
On to the shore of another sea
Let me rest
Let the distance weep

If I die
Do not close my eyes
Continue to love me
With your blind little offerings

If I die
Do not carry my dead body to the River
Bury me
In the very eyeball of the world.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


I will search out the red stone of thunder
O dried-up plants
I will roll you into a cigarette
and light you with the lightning
The heavenly bird brings me an evil omen
Drink no water flowing at night,
My horse unshod,
You will not take me home
They say magic was buried into the foundations of my house
An underground wind has mown down my legs
I shall lie down in the starry gardens on the hill
on a couch of roses
Let them light a candle at my forehead
and let hail smash me to pieces
I was preparing to take root
but then came my mole
My horse unshod, you will die from the weight
The cattle bar my way
They say lightning has burnt up the heavens
Fly at my head, o stones of lamentation,
I will not reach home, not even at cockcrow.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


We finished burying the rusty ploughshares in the ground
with the seed gasping for rain and birth
and like gods we sat down to rest
The waters quicken their breathing and renew
their cycle broken by the tides
A woman behind the loom
sees the rising of the moon
and her kiss encircles the world
I have tied the forests as with a rope
and the rivers I have released from their springs
and her I have kissed for life and motherhood
The Sower opens himself for me
and his fruit with bitter seeds
And I shall sow them
Growing is beauty
I lie on the furrows as on harp strings
and I listen to the music of their sprouting
You will find me under the shelter of the woods
blowing on flowers not yet opened.
Stand before me
so that we can look long into each other’s eyes
and protect
that which will be born to us

This is
the first spring after the floods.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


He sniffs in the attic of the sky
scratches the floor of the earth
to bury his voice before danger
to hide a bone in the ground
His fur grows beside the fire
clouds gather in his senses
his eyes – lightnings in the dusk of the corner
I take the beast out for a walk
and a storm then enters my home
The beast finds a track sniffing
in the darkness of the noon
where the sun-rays knit a cage of light
Me and my beast
are at home outside

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


The black arrow of fertility
Leaves all behind

All the watery wilderness of ocean
Just for its honeymoon

To flee extinction
In betrothal and in death

In a puddle on a scrap of land
The eel sends forth

Another fertile arrow
Completing the circle

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Peggy and Graham W. Reid


Snow is falling
cold sweat covers me
no-one is here
black horsemen fly
by my window.
Your eyes, lad
seek a harbour for my soul
yet here I am alone and chained
to the yellow trunk of autumn
and my soul is trembling
like a leaf on its branch.
Love is heading for the cold North
thrown about by a sigh.

You have to find within yourself
something like flint
to strike sparks.
The sun loves you only when you’re awake.
You must know, boy,
that you straighten up
like a pine tree in my thoughts
nourishing itself from its soil
learning not to bend:
low winds can be destructive
water can be mighty enough to uproot everything
and in the magnetic circle of noon
paths can be tousled and lost in mere grass.
By which well should I tie my horse?
For which rising star should I wait?
In which house will love join me in sleep?
Birds take their song into the stars.
Here on earth, so little space is left.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


Here and in no other place
I breathe the scent of the junipers
and the yellow leaf of the beech
and the blue mirror
of the river’s source
in your light,
o lightning,

and the scent of the earth
when one digs
and the depth of the sea
when one sails over it
o lightning,

a green shoot from a grape wine
is joined
to the short spring
of polar lightning.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


My voice is deadened
by the sea sponges
Why did I come here?
Why did I leave my house
on a padlock in the mountains?
A swallow and smoke now circle
around my house
O magic!
do not close my eyes
My sin is thrown at my feet
by this sonorous sea
My horse dozes at my side
with death in his teeth
On the red sand there play
two amorous snakes
with poison on their tongues
From the sea there flicker
lightning flashes from the drought
Why did I come here with my horse?
To collect the driftwood
shattered by the winds?
To draw from this summer water
full of thunder?
My voice is deadened
by the sea sponges
I return
with sand and oranges
that remind me of the drought
I will sit down on the millstone
with a flower grown from its grinding
and I will wait
for the waters from the sea.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


The sound of death
casts on you its spell of sleep
Oh, wake,
young man,
You have a field ringing with plants and hoes
The morning sun is like a big table
on which the ploughmen break their bread
The noonday hides the black threads of night
And you have buried beneath you stones and moonlight
Ten horsemen in ambush
come flying like waves of terror
A tender plant ties your fingers to the ground and won’t let go
until you give her
a secret kiss at midday
From the grass arises a choir of dead lovers
Awake, young man,
My ship built of vine branches
with its hoarse voice is at sea
There’s a time when I inquire whether I’m mad
It’s evening
and many people come to wake you
You are drawing the map of the stars
and breathing deeply
Awake, young man,
and tell us your dreams
then we shall ride of on a fine horse to Iron River
to be refreshed by the wind from the water-mills
With a broken flower I button up my shirt from the wind
and return home, my love,

Tell me, what potion do you quaff in your dreams,
young man, so that you never wake?

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


That head in a yoke of two collarbones
Was the first to get eyes from the sun
It has a wrinkle from its first care
It has hell in its eyes
And also an icy glacier
It carries on its back too an angel’s sign of protection
And in its tear amid the yellow temple of dry land
Also a remnant of the first flood

So in her the times die away
She living slowly in the ashes
Of the fire, moves far away to the stars
And as soon as may ages of time disappear
Then she will speak forth:

All that hastens leads to disappearance
All that has no climate of its own
Must reckon on bad weather.

Radovan Pavlovski
© Translation by Reginald de Bray


Red and black kerchiefs
thrown in the air
Two camps with bad blood
in combat in the place
where the soul must be divided
In flight they draw a cross
Where shall I lock up my tears?
Where shall I go?
Their soul a gypsy woman steals
and ties it up in blue rags
and tramples on it in the river
so that no trace of it is known
Three gypsy children
three yellow marigolds
with half a soul in their bodies
read the stars
Bury them in the warm sand there
so that they don’t feel cold
I hear two military bands
On my fingers red foam collects
Why should I separate them?
Why should I kill them
when they were born engaged in war?
I sit on the balcony
adorned with cool wild poppies
You sent a long mat
over the blue stones of thunder
while your children
were picking red sorrel stalks
and thinking under what cloud they should stop
to await the dew
Your sleep is interrupted
by the song of the sad owl
who pours out his spleen
into the crack of a tree

I buried them in the garden
Where shall I lock up my tears?
Where shall I go?
The red and the black cock
fight in the sky.

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