In the autumn of 2000, after one year of studying physics, I lost motivation to continue and decided to study geography instead. But since academic year had already begun, I had to wait until next October. In the meantime I was free to do whatever I wanted, but that proved to be harder than I expected.
The major part of my identity of that time was being a student, and getting good grades was something that I was proud of. So, all of a sudden I was left without that. At the same time I was miserably unsuccessful in just about any other area of my life. I remember that I was in love with one girl I knew from high school, but she didn’t have any interest in me, though she was very friendly.
Because of all these things I became sort of depressed and felt like a complete failure. This culminated in me writing a poem that expressed how I felt at that time. Since that was in the winter of 2000/01, the imagery is a bit “snowy”:
* * *
The Call For Green Grass
For a few hours it dawns – yet there is no sun.
Silent clouds of horror begin to scatter
White crystals of despair again.
White. Everything is white.
Lost caribou trips on white snow in vain.
In the whiteness of the distance there appears a string of dark little dots…
* * *
The informal title of this poem is “Caribou song”, which was the name of the file on my computer in which I saved it. I had a few other poetic attempts in my life (until I discovered that I have no particular talent for poetry). This poem is by far the best of anyone I ever wrote. Because it came from within and because I was honest.
If you look at the end you see that it is deliberately open. What do the dark little dots represent? Could be anything. Maybe it is a pack of wolves, but could also be the herd of the lost caribou. The future is unknown. But for as long as you are alive there is still hope for you.
*Here is actually my 2011 English translation. The original poem in Slovene language can be found here.
Forge me, life, forge!
If I am flint, I will spark,
If steel, I’ll sing,
If glass – let me be shattered.
– Oton Župančič*
This month’s quote is from the poem titled Geslo (Slogan) by Slovenian poet Oton Župančič. As the title suggests, the poem was probably poet’s own personal motto.
I like it. It is simple and straightforward. It is brutal. It encompasses the essence of life and evolution. Trials and tribulations are not only expected, they are even welcomed. For they reveal to a man what he really is and enable him to develop himself further. And if he is not fit to stand up to the challenges, he is doomed. There is no judgment of it. The poet understands that this is just the way the world is, so he doesn’t feel sorry for himself. He doesn’t care if he is shattered, for he knows that he gave a good fight.
*My translation of the original poem by Oton Župančič written in Slovene