Georgi Djagarov was born in the village of Byala, and spent his teens fighting as a partisan, and eventually in a fascist prison. These experiences and those as an undrgraduate at the Maxim Gorki Literary Institute made him a Russophil and his early poetry has many echoes of Mayakovsky. In recent years he has become more subjective, lyrical, "telling old truths with a new beauty and a new emotional tone".



A country as big as the palm of your hand. . .
But you dont`t have to be bigger, for me.
I`m glad your blood is southern blood
and the old Balkan made of flint.

What does it matter that wolves and jackals
howled through your forests and fields?
You were kind to those who were kind to you
but to those who did wrong, you were harsh.

A country as big as the palm of your hand. . .
But in that harsh palm broke the bowl
of the poison brewed in Byzantium,
and the bloody Turkish yataghan.

Men who sold tobacco and human blood
sold pieces of you, too, if they could
but you broke their backs and they fell
because you were small but heavy to hold.

Then a miracle happened, death vanquished death
and those houses with their verandahs smiled,
and huge flags began to flutter everywhere
and a new road opened - happy and straight.

Now you are all in blossom. The black earth
swells in the care of soft Bulgarian hands,
the scent of geraniums on your face
and the wind starting to sing a new song.

A country as big as the palm of your hand. . .
But you are the whole world to me,
I dont`t measure you in metres or miles
but in the great love you cast over me.

Translated from Bulgarian by Roy Macgregor-Hastie, 1975.

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