Poems by Ivan Borislavov

in English translation by Zdravka Mihaylova



To Kiril Kadiiski

We are the illegitimate children of freedom,
we are the fallen angels with broken wings.
We were the boatswains of the cursed frigate
damned to sail in the impenetrable fog.

Day and night we chased our vague mirage
until we caught the virus of woe and darkness.
And, like naives, we wanted our dream
to take us at last to the promised coast.

We swore, we mutinied in search of vengeance.
The captain confessed – it was he who broke the compass.
And the blood in our veins suddenly turned to rust.

Since then we have been drifting ghostly in the fog,
wrapped in the spiderwebs of the ocean.
And by custom we salute the captain.


Bermuda triangle

Did I dream I was flying over the Bermuda triangle?
Below me the stars were reeling –
the lights of the heavenly airport.
And the airplane – a Southern Cross on fire –
engraved in the vortex of night.
I was ablaze with fire – other than this I can't remember anything.

Space is distorted,
my watch is running slow with a dream.
Why does this secret shine like a reverberating seashell
extracted from the ocean spree to long torment memory
with coded messages of an ancient but lost native land?

What unexpected omens could I find
in the voice of fleeting, unfathomable seas
that echoes in my dreams of bitter algae?

But if a secret is explained by a secret and magic by magic,
why should I conceal it –
the plane disappeared in the Bermuda triangle,
and the multicoloured tail of a comet fanned out over the vortex.
And above me.


Biographical note

Ivan Borislavov was born in Varna, Bulgaria, in 1946. He is a graduate of Sofia University in Bulgarian and Russian Languages and Literatures. Poet, essayist, translator, researcher in the field of modern Western literature and art.


Poetry: Growing into Manhood (1969), A Sun Avalanche (1978), Should You Come Tomorrow (1984), Moments with Paris (1986), Talking with Infinity (1986), Barrel Organ (1988), A Nest Above the Abyss (1992), A Souvenir of Lightning (1994), Celestial Archaeology (1995), Detonated Words (1995), While I Breathe (1996)

His poetry has been translated into French, English, Russian, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Romanian, Norwegian, Finnish, Hebrew and Greek.

Essays: Poetry and Colours (1987), The Third Eye (1994), The Light that Remains (1994), Ossip Tsadkin: A Poet of the Matter (1995).

Translations from Russian and French, e.g. P. Eluard, A. Césaire, B. Cendrars, J. Prévert, A. Noverra.


Best Translation of a Verse Collection Award of the Bulgarian Translators' Union (1987) for Blaise Cendrars.

Copyright © of English translation by Zdravka Mihaylova 2000.

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