Kocbek Edvard:
My Life

At first I knew how to pray and shark,

only later did I take up drawing and writing,

that’s when I was seized with dizziness.

I rocked between the past tense

and its past perfect form,

an oversized hat kept falling on my eyes,

and the transfixed kid lay sprawled across the grass.

The sky showed its four corners,

I searched out Attila, met the miller’s daughter,

sighted fires from the church tower at night.

In mad company I was set on the table

and made to perform a water sprite.

In the shrubs I caught sight of bodies convulsing.

The strange play of two of them moved me.


It was then that my homeland left me,

I set my wooden suitcase down in a foreign kitchen,

each day I set the compass point in my heart,

and the circles kept getting more acute.

I planned escapes, conspiracies, sinlessness,

my first poem turned into a trapeze and

I leapt into the world like a flea from the sphinx’s fur.


I shut the logarithms and opened dream atlases,

discovered green monks and trails over the earth,

sailed into a gulf, hopped trains,

in the Parisian darkness spotted a glazier.

The time of gold-toothed thieves had begun.

At the Fig Tree the penates had dispersed,

death danced naked amid knives.


Then they sent me into history

as a child is sent after bird’s milk.

I was seized, they threw me in a clearing,

and it was there coincidence shamed me.

I survived, changed into a monster,

dragged up to the wall of the city

cowering before Mandarin lust.


Still the pranksters hadn’t had enough.

They lined me up with long-distance runners,

no one knew who held the secret message.

And when all of us - different, impatient - tore

off through the endless arena collecting laps,

at the point I lagged so far behind the most powerful

that I suddenly came out ahead of them.

Translated by Michael Biggins