Lives Journal 11

Karel Smolle







that which doesn't move in a circle

burns immediately

and the traces end

at the beginning of the path

and God can be found

where he can't be found






my chestnuts lie

on the yellow ground


we children

will collect them

and a chestnut

will become

a lamb

a pony

or anything we like

in the winter


the chestnut

is you is me

we become ripe together

and after we fall

we sink deep

into the yellow earth






jagged railings


electrically-charged barbed wire


bodies have shed their faces

the roofs of souls have been blown away


storm clouds spray

into the walls of intestines

blood is saturated with water






the brown net of night

gets caught

in the mountain forests

in the sounds of silence

in the vaults of darkness


the bell tolls

almost muffling

a moan


but silence still breathes






one has gone – another has come

that's the way it is


last autumn we still plowed here

but now – may God gave mercy on him


black-clad mourners throw

a few memories into his grave

and go off




Translated by Herbert Kuhner (with Feliks J. Bister, Zdravko Inzko, Peter Kersche, Milena Merlak)




KAREL SMOLLE (1941, Klagenfurt), Slovenian poet and politician in Austria (Carinthia); Baccalaureate at the Federal High School for Slovenians (Klagenfurt), Faculty of Law in Vienna; court translator, member of the Austrian federal parliament, the President of the National Council of Carinthian Slovenians. In addition to poetry, he was publishing political- historical essays. The only collection of poems Caught cry (Klagenfurt, 1965, under pseud. Mouse Cat – cf. ironic associativity of the pseudonym: Slovenian-Carinthian poet as »the prey and the hunter« in one person). Minimalist poetry, which with an extremely simple formal expression sensitively sketches the veiled quandary of personal and social identity of Carinthian-Slovenian existence (the title syntagma »caught cry« in concord with the two verses »someone moans / but silence still breathes« indicates a »still life« of deadened insistence in depersonalization: »bodies have shed their faces«).      

(Note by editor I. A.)




Slovenian (gajica)

Slovenian (bohorichica)