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.

Background[edit]

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!

Halt, imperial galleys! Restrain your mighty rudders!

Walk with silent tread
I am officiating a proud Requiem in the chill of the night
Upon these sacred waters.

There at the bottom, where seashells fall into the tired grip of sleep
And peat falls upon the dead algae,
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 the fallen troop's eternal rest?
From the deep abyss peaceful slumber ebbs,
And tired flight of the moonbeam walks.

This is a temple of secret, and a graveyard of sorrow
For the great dead, endless as our mind.
Silent as midnight upon southern islands,
Dark as a conscience, cold and despairing.

Do you not feel from azure depths,
That piety grows spilled atop these waters
And the air is filled with curious gentleness?
It is the great soul of the fallen, roaming.

Halt, imperial galleys! Before the tomb my brothers
Shroud your trumpets in black.
Let your liveried sentries chant the holy dirge
Here, where waves embrace!

For the centuries will pass, like white foam
That crosses the sea and dies without trace,
And a new and great age will come,
And make a splendid home upon a pile of graves.

But this graveyard, where lays buried
The terrible, secret epic,
Will cradle a fairytale for the ages
Where the spirit will seek out its coryphaeuses.

Buried are here garlands of days past
And the fleeting joy of an entire nation,
And so this cemetery lies in the shadow of the waves
Between the bosom of the earth and the celestial vault.

Halt, imperial galleys! Extinguish your torches,
And draw your oars to rest,
And when I complete my Requiem, steal away into the dark of the night
Piously and inaudibly.

For I wish for the eternal silence to rule
And for the dead to hear the noise of the battle,
And hear their own blood boiling
In their children, cheering in glory.

For there, far away, the battlefield burns
With the same blood that lies buried here:
Here above the father, peace reigns,
There above the son flies a victor's banner.

So I want peace, to officate my Requiem
Without words, without tears and quiet sighs,
To merge scent of incense, and the breath of dust,
With the pounding echo of distant battledrums.

Halt, imperial galleys! In knowing respect
Glide with silent thread.
I officiate a Requiem, unlike any other,
Upon these sacred waters!

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