The windows – shut tight and blackened
And blackened and shut tight, the door,
And the door bears the fluttering message
“The owner has gone to America.”
And I am the home’s only owner
Where nobody’s made his abode
And I’ve set out for nowhere
And from nowhere I’ve returned
I never take a step from my house
And the years are my only visitors,
But so often the gardens have yellowed,
And I’m certainly not the same chap.
All the books have been read long ago
And all memory’s paths have been trampled
And how here as if for a hundred years
I talk exclusively to the portraits.
And day and night and night and day the clock
Swings its brass sun pendulum.
Occasionally I pose before the mirror
So as not to be always alone.
And my days slowly climb the walls
In the flicker of dying embers:
My life ebbs away with no trace
Of a Not a single love or incident.
It’s as if I’ve never lived at all
And my existence is an evil fantasy.
If someone happens to enter the house,
They’ll find nobody in.
They’ll only see the dusty portraits,
The perfidious empty mirror
And on the door a yellowing message:
” The owner has gone to America.”
Atanas Dalchev 1925
by Atanas Dalchev
As if the devil himself has rented it out.
But the tenant’s quite unknown.
The front door is forever shut
and even by day dark sleeps in its rooms.
The rain gnaws at the plasterwork, runs
piercing the broken lead flashing,
and like sweat on a sick man’s brow
through the grey walls the damp is bubbling.
And at night (did you see through the window?),
with the shriek of the sudden wind gust
the door banging open and shut.
set the night dogs’ howling in the yard.
And a dark shadow like a spear
was broken up the staircase of stone
And I saw and I knew the dead man there
whom they’d buried nine days ago.
For My Homeland
I never chose you on the earth
I was just born in you on a June day swelter.
I love you not because you’re wealthy,
but just because you’re my mother country.
And I’m a Bulgar not for your glory
And your heroic feats and military skill.
But just because I cannot stop memories
of the blinded soldiers of Tsar Samuil.
Let any search you for success
And honours and power with the selfsame passion.
Suffering unites us, you and me
And one love consigns us to the self same fate.
Everyone who dies for freedom,
Wherever it is, they’re our brothers,
still in blood but just by their bleeding.
by Atanas Dalchev
I kept continuously silent,
all thoughts were erased from my brain.
and today from all this silence
it’s like I rose from my grave.
Above my soul, it’s floating nigh
the nameless empty dread,
of all the days and nights gone by,
no different from being dead.
Scared rigid and disabled,
although quite free at this stage,
my thoughts continue unable
to fly out from their cage
Like someone from his sick bed
my poem scarcely keeps its feet
my words are overfed
with odd pain and helpless heat.
And they’re short like the call
the condemned man boldly scrawled
in his outburst on the wall,
before death by firing squad.
The doors, the street front doors
of the ancient rotting houses
you recognise them, don’t you,
for how many years gone by
they noisily close behind you,
when at night you come back home,
they make way for you as if to say
“Please enter dear Master!”
They speak in strange voices
anytime weekday or Sunday
From morning through to night
they sing through yawning mouths
when you throw them open
and then you close them gently:
Oh, those songs and voices,
already known from childhood
The doors sodden in the rain,
rotting from water and winter
gnawed by numberless worms
stripped bare by the winds
the doors with thousands of scars –
colours and nameless letter plates
with studs, knockers and brackets
and their rust running like blood
And last night with all its might
a storm, unleashed in the gloom,
battered them like a wrecking ball
and the doors were stretched thin
and through the night till dawn
they were beating and rattling
like the wings of some black bird
dying wounded in the shadows.
The doors, your very own doors
there’s little point in locking them
alas you will never feel
safe and sound behind them.
When the night time fills your ears
and startled dogs are barking
they cannot keep you safe
from Her – the eternal hoodlum