Atanas Dalchev

Atanas Hristov Dalchev (June 12, 1904 – January 17, 1978) was a Bulgarian poet, critic and translator. He is an author of poetry that brightly touches some philosophical problems. He translates poetry and fiction from French, Spanish, English, German and Russian authors. Recipient of the Herder Prize in 1972 (for his “…all over literary work…”) and order “Znak Pocheta” (or Order of the Badge of Honor) in 1967 (for popularisation of Russian culture in Bulgaria).

He was born in Thessaloniki (Solun) and graduated from high school in Sofia in 1922. His fatherHristo Dalchev was a lawyer and as a MP from People’s Federative Party (Bulgarian Section)represеnted Bulgarians from Macedonia in the Ottoman parliament.

Atanas Dalchev’s Herder Prize, 1972

In 1926, Dalchev published his first collection called Prozorets (“Window”) and graduated in pedagogics and philosophy at Sofia University in 1927. Dalchev published the collections of poetry Stihotvorenia (“Poems”, 1928) andParis (1930). From 1945 until 1956, he was under pressure from the communist authorities and was forced to publish only translations.

He died in Sofia in 1978.

His works has been translated in French, Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, Russian, German, Italian, Polish, French, Spanish, and also in English, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabian, Swedish and some other languages in periodic or in literary medleys.

Poems by Atanas Dalchev:

SNOW

Won`t the snow come down from the sky

like a shining white angel

at least once

to whiten the iron gutters,

to cover the asphalt boulevards?

– I dont`t think it will.

In this city, black as charcoal,

the winter will probably be back, too,

and we shall never know the angels and the snow.

And if the snow does come one day

policemen and prostitutes

will trample it, ruthless, cruel, beneath their shoes,

and the smoke from railway stations and chimneys

will blacken its white feathers. . .

There will be white snow only in gardens

where children have played.*

MEETING

That Spring was like any other Spring.

The sky was clear and hard after a rainy night.

The windows of the houses were shining,

the tiles above the eaves were shining,

the wet grass was shining

and the sun sucked flames

out of the lake. The grass was growing

and the trees budding imperceptibly.

On the road from the park,

paled by idleness

five legless men were going

home in their wheel chairs.

They were looking at the young leaves on the branches

sparkling under droops of rain

like many coloured chandeliers,

and they thought joylessly

that Spring had come and everything was growing

except the two sad stumps left them

by the iron hail of war.

This is what they were thinking, as other wheeled chairs,

prams, were coming towards them from the other side:

mothers and nannies had come out

with their rosy little children

for the morning walk.

The meeting was unexpected and unpleasant.

The women went on their way in silence.

And the cripples watched the prams

for a long time

and a huge grief, impotent anger,

swelled in their souls;

life seemed to be an insult,

and the light a mockery

that shot at them

from every pane and puddle,

poured through the green trees

dripping from the wet leaves.*

EVENING

I am wandering about the street alone.

Red as the roofs, the sun spreads slowly

behind them its last glow in the West.

And fixing it with my eyes I remember.

There will be the same glow in Naples.

The windows at the top of buildings

will all be flickering as if on fire.

The whole bay of Naples will be glittering.

Like grass swaying in the evening breeze

green waves will be rolling in the harbour

and through the noise and smoke, like a herd

of cows in the evening, the boats

wallowing in the water, lowing.

People in gay clothes will be standing

on the quayside, blessing the end of day

well spent and free from care.

But I am no longer there.

There will be a glow over Paris, too.

They will be closing the Luxembourg Gardens.

A trumpet call, passionate, drawing

down the darness as if summoned by those notes,

the night falling lightly on the white trottoirs.

A crowd of children following the garden,

listening in ecstasy, happy, innocent,

to the rapturous brass call,

each one trying to get closest

to the wonderful trumpeter.

Through the wide open gates

people stream out, noisy, gay.

But I am no longer one of them.

Why can`t we be, at the same time,

both here and there – everywhere

life beats continuously and hard?

We are always dying, slowly disappearing

first from always dying, slowly disappearing

first from this place, then from another,

until we vanish altogether in the end.*

*Translated from Bulgarian by Roy Macgregor-Hastie.

A MIRROR

You`ve expected it for many years.

But the miracle is here every hour.

See the mover passing by your house

with a heavy mirror!

As he walks, the streets, the houses

and the fences zoom,

people come up from the shining bottom,

cars fly out in rage like birds from a cage.

Town squares start to sway,

and trees,

roofs and balconies fall down,

blue skies flash.

You dont`t have to wonder why the mover

stoops and makes so slowly every step.

He is holding in his human hands

a whole new and amazing world.

1937

Translated from Bulgarian by Vladimir Levchev.

DEVILISH

The hands of the adverse clock
Depict on its face
The twelve circles of my hell
And reap my poisoned hours.

And I`m lying on the wooden floor
With my hair wet from cold clammy sweat
And I`m dying in the room under the roof,
So close to the sky.

And down there cars are passing by,
Trams are burning the wind
And laughter and screams are sounding,
And the taverns and brothels rumbling.

And to deafen the sorrow in me
Sometimes I sit down by the window
And from there I throw at the people
The dirt of the old pots with no flowers.

Oh, I understand: this jolly world
Doesn`t end with me and my death;
I am a piece of useless sorry carrion
And could I be their brother ?

I don`t want pity from the people!
I have everything: mine is death.
And I will put out my tongue at the world,
Hung on the black window.

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About jasminatacheva

Jasmina Tacheva has graduated from the National High School in Finance and Business in Sofia, Bulgaria, with a specialty in Economics and Management and is currently majoring in Economics at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, but is not afraid to admit that her true passion has always been literature. She published her first poetry collection, "Unrequited", at the age of fifteen. Since then she has completed one novel (unpublished) and is currently working on a joint novel together with Yordan.
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