Plava Grobnica

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Blue Graveyard memorial plaque on the Vido island.

Plava Grobnica, (English: Ode to a Blue Sea Tomb) is an ode written by Serbian poet Milutin Bojić during World War I. It is dedicated to the soldiers that were buried in the sea near Vido island, Greece. In his unforgettable poem, Bojić expressed the tragic fate of Serbia, whose army had passed through Montenegro and Albania to the Greek islands of Corfu and Vido, where over 5000 Serbian soldiers were buried at sea.[1]

Bojić survived the exodus from Serbia and the desperation of Corfu, and yet in the end succumbed to tuberculosis in Salonika. "Our church bells toll the dead instead of the hours," Bojić wrote of seeing his comprades-at-arms dying around him. At the time of the Serbian retreat he had been working on an epic poem, Cain, in which he compared Bulgaria's attack on Serbia (that precipitated the retreat) to the biblical story of Cain and Abel. The poem was one of the few things he carried with him as he made the winter journey over the mountains. Upon arriving at the Adriatic only to see his fellow Serbs being thrown out to the sea for burial, he penned one of the most moving war poems of his generation -- Plava Grobnica or Ode to a Blue Sea Tomb.

Poem[edit]

Serbian Latin English
Stojte, galije carske! Sputajte krme moćne!

Gazite tihim hodom!
Opelo gordo držim u doba jeze noćne
Nad ovom svetom vodom.

Tu na dnu, gde školjke san umoran hvata
I na mrtve alge tresetnica pada,
Leži groblje hrabrih, leži brat do brata,
Prometeji nade, apostoli jada.

Zar ne osećate kako more mili,
Da ne ruši večni pokoj palih četa?
Iz dubokog jaza mirni dremež čili,
A umornim letom zrak meseca šeta.

To je hram tajanstva i grobnica tužna
Za ogromnog mrca, k'o naš um beskrajna.
Tiha kao ponoć vrh ostrvlja južna,
Mračna kao savest, hladna i očajna.

Zar ne osećate iz modrih dubina
Da pobožnost raste vrh voda prosuta
I vazduhom igra čudna pitomina?
To velika duša pokojnika luta

Stojte, galije carske! Na grobu braće moje
Zavite crnim trube.
Stražari u svečanom opelo nek otpoje
Tu, gde se vali ljube!

Jer proći će mnoga stoleća, k'o pena
Što prolazi morem i umre bez znaka,
I doći će nova i velika smena,
Da dom sjaja stvara na gomili raka.

Ali ovo groblje, gde je pogrebena
ogromna i strašna tajna epopeje,
Kolevka će biti bajke za vremena,
Gde će duh da traži svoje korifeje.

Sahranjeni tu su nekadašnji venci
I prolazna radost celog jednog roda,
Zato grob taj leži u talasa senci
Izmeđ nedra zemlje i nebesnog svoda.

Stojte, galije carske! Buktinje nek utrnu,
Veslanje umre hujno,
A kad opelo svršim, klizite u noć crnu
pobožno i nečujno.

Jer hoću da vlada beskrajna tišina
I da mrtvi čuju huk borbene lave,
Kako vrućim ključem krv penuša njina
U deci što klikću pod okriljem slave.

Jer, tamo daleko, poprište se zari
Ovom istom krvlju što ovde počiva:
Ovde iznad oca pokoj gospodari,
Tamo iznad sina povesnica biva.

Zato hoću mira, da opelo služim
bez reči, bez suza i uzdaha mekih,
Da miris tamjana i dah praha združim
Uz tutnjavu muklu doboša dalekih.

Stojte, galije carske! U ime svesne pošte
Klizite tihim hodom.
Opelo držim, kakvo ne vide nebo jošte
Nad ovom svetom vodom!

Hail to you, imperial galleys! Lower mighty rudders!

Walk with silent tread
I'm proudly officiating a sublime Requiem in the chill of the night
Upon these sacred waters.

There at the bottom, where seashells sleep tired from catch
And upon the dead algae peat falls,
Lay graves of the brave, lay brother to brother
Prometheuses of Hope, Apostles of Pain.

Do you not feel how the sea calms,
That it may not trouble their holy repose?
From the deep abyss peaceful slumber ebbs,
And tired flight of the shadow of the moon slowly walks.

This is a mysterious temple and a sad graveyard
With decaying carcasses, unfathomably real.
Silent as the night upon southern islands,
Dark as a conscience, cold and despairing.

Do you not feel from azure depths,
That piety grows atop spilled water
And the air fills with curious gentleness?
That great soul of the fallen roams

Hail to you, imperial galleys! Upon this tomb my brothers
Twist the trumpets in black.
Let your sentry, upright, chant the holy dirge
Here, where waves come to an embrace!

For the centuries will pass, like white foam
that crosses the sea and dies without a trace,
And a new and great age will come,
To create a splendid home upon this grave.

But this graveyard, where it is buried
the terrible mystery of the Epic,
The cradle will be the tale of the times,
Where the soul will seek out its Coryphaeus.

Buried are here once ancient garlands
And the passing joy of more than one generation,
That's why this cemetery lies in the shadow of waves
Between the bosom of the sea and the vault celestial.

Hail to you, imperial galleys! Extinguish the torches,
Let the oars come to a blustering rest,
And when the Requiem prayers are said, steal away into the dark night
inaudibly and with reverential awe.

I wish for the eternal silence to rule
and for the glorious dead to hear the noise of Battles,
And rejoice in our cries of victory, as we cast ourselves beneath
the wings of Glory upon the fields vermillion with blood.

For, there far away, battles sway
With the same blood that emanates from this resting-place:
Here above the eye of the resting lords,
There before the son's history is made.

That's why I seek peace, to officiate a Requiem
without words, without tears and quiet sighs,
Mingle with the odor of powder, the perfume of incense
As we hear resound the far noise of the cannon.

Hail to you, imperial galleys! In the name of a conscientious fast
Glide lightly upon these sacred waters.
A Requiem I'm officiating, one that heavens
have yet to see upon these sacred waters!

(Translated by Petar D. Stefanovic)

References[edit]

External links[edit]