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.
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:
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.*
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.*
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.
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,
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.
Translated from Bulgarian by Vladimir Levchev.
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.