Ranko Pavlović: Throbs of Jasenovac (video)

Mute oratorio for the past and future

  1. Innocent mouthful

(Voice of a frightened girl followed by the trumpet made of the willow’s bark with a mouthpiece made of hazel with origin from the sunny side of mountain Kozara)

Where are they taking me, where are they taking you?

Why that morning’s cry, wail of ash-trees?

Why is the river weeping, why is the mountain shedding tears and

Why is the mute wail calling the heavens?

Don’t let them take me, mommy, stay with me.

Burn the wire that separates us with your hot tear,

Bury your nails into the darkness,

Clear the path to your eye and stretch your

Stiff arm.


The morning lost its mind, wolf’s jaws

Are greedily eating a chunk of the day,

The noon is staggering all over the thirsty dust,

Mad sun is asking for some water, some sweat;

And it would quench its thirst with some blood too.

Only the fate, with half an eye, is lurking for

an innocent bite. Can you hear the growl?

Out of dark caves dragons with hundred heads arrive,

Along with elves.


I beg you, mommy, give me your hand.

I don’t want to go to the menagerie, don’t let them

Take me. I want your bosom and my dream there,

Warm as milk, more sweet scented than a ruddy

Bread loaf on the dining table.

Don’t let them, mommy, take me away,

I’ll be just a shiver in your embrace, hank of throbs

And I will never ask for some

Inconceivable bread.


  1. The moaning of the evening 

(A mother who got old for a day is sobbing; there is a spark in her eye yet. Possible discreet sound of a flute, delicate like it is coming from a dream.)

Hunched in weed, embraced by fog,

Wounded day is dying slowly. The evening is

Bawling. Night overcame our part of the universe.

The stars are dripping into the mud,

Toads are devouring their glitter; The sky is spitting

The darkness. The soil, burdened with bones,

Is hiding its painful womb from greedy eyes.

The lewd feast of satanic greedy bayonets

Is beginning.


Where are they taking you, where are they

Taking me? Who is entangling the roads

Into the knot of hopelessness? Bridge the abyss and

Give me your hand, I want to feel your shivers

On my bosom. Oh, my babe, my rosy marigold,

Who knitted for me a wreath of daisies,

Someone’s boot is marching crudely

Over it, turning it

Into dust.


My weak arms are being wounded by fate. Bleakness

In my soul. Black birds are pecking at

Disentangled hair, looking for faded sparkle in an eye

In an empty eye socket. The night is inviting to

A feast of pain. Can you see, my pride,

That blaze in the Mountain? Remember

The paths leading to the burnt-out ruins,

Look at the flickers that are signposts

To take you home.

Note: disentangled hair is the sign of mourning for the lost loved ones. 


  1. An empty nest 

(Mother, who has stayed without her unborn child, is painfully wailing; at first from afar and then becoming closer the sound of thundering)

Doom has unlocked the gates of hell,

Cold is splashing the fireplace with bloody rain,

Dining table is overgrown with weeds,

There’s no butter on it, nor salt; only a bundle

Of serpents are rooting out the harvest.

Sparrow-hawks have covered empty nests

Stillness is hidden in the muddy springs.

Has the curse of our ancestors reached us or is it

A prophecy of a storm?


Fire in my brain, ice in my womb.

What is the bayonet looking for at the place

Where the source of the origin is;

What is the cold bayonet looking for in the chamber of dreams?

The whiff of life, not accustomed to life yet, is shivering,

Clutching cold diapers around its body.

A bud is asking for some air, but yet afraid of it.

Oh, you adverse fate, the whole cosmos has shivered

In my womb.


Bile has wrapped up the embryo, making

The hard bed in the thorns. The dead are singing

In the mute choir. Swollen breasts full of milk

Are crying in a delirious, the milk is looking

For the throbs of posterity. The womb is empty,

Only the mean bleakness is building a nest for the pain.

And the providence has passed away too.

Don’t you know, you bayonet, that the whole

Universe is a womb only?


  1. Disgraceful horse riders

(Quietly, with the three-stringed tambourine, the girl who hasn’t lived the life yet is speaking)

Intruders have penetrated into my chastity. They

Have iron-shod the wild mustangs, they have

Put spikes on their hoofs, and decorated firm

Armours with thorns and now they are devastating

Through the infinity of hope; disgraceful horse riders

Are satiating their desires. On the petal of

The morning, just budded they are making

Inflicting wounds, tearing the

Primordial threads.


In the bosom of secret, where not even

A thought had stepped yet, the fiery whip

Was looking for a flame but found only the ice.

I can hear the clip-clop.

The whole Planet is trembling under the hoofs.

Can a bird a bird stay unharmed in the roar?

In the cage of dreams I have kept a pigeon

For my darling, but they have clipped

My pigeon’s wings.


Who is more callous, horses or the horse riders?

The pain in the soul is boiling. Into the abyss,

The belly of tormented land, the sky is falling.

With icy glow the stars are consoling

Tamed volcanoes. My chastity is weeping

With numb tears. The cosmos stays without

Support. Will the wild colts run down

Over the embryo of the



  1. Boats and boatmen

(Choir of the dead is singing, without music, even the sharp sound of a bayonet is unnecessary)

Thirsty River is asking for our bodies,

They are giving them to it. Used to losing,

We build strange boats in the water

Along hopeless banks and so become

Boats and boatmen at the same time.

But against the common sense

Our boats, with broken rudders

Are sailing from the mouth towards

The spring.


To quench its thirst, in its main current,

In its cold bloodstream, the River is joining

Broken veins from our bodies and through

The bloodstream the heavy blood is draining off

Into the origin. Whirlpools are threatening,

Fate is threatening with storms, hungry

Monsters with wide open jaws

Are looking for a bite. But what can they do to us?

We are already a memory.


Dead boats are sailing by wild fields

The weed has grown fast in the plowed fields,

Soil is asking for some sweat, they are giving

The dead blood to deceive the origin of its strength.

Life is a trap for the innocent; fire that dies out

Unexpectedly. And there is only a hope that

we shall succeed to overstep the Planet

and make a step

Into the universe.


  1. Haymakers and swaths 

(Choir made of strong but unexpectedly tamed men, with the shepherds’ song followed by the sound of flute)

Under the ruinous eaves, scythes are leading a lonely life,

Steely adders are looking at the weed,

At the green grass and over-riped corns,

Waiting for the manly strength to come back.

They’re daydreaming in the boredom, defying

The thunder with sharp peaks, pliably offering

To the sun their keen cutting edges. And they would like

Song to echo over the fields instead of

Painful screams.


Scythes are hoping for the strength of muscles,

Dusty scythe-sharpening hammer and the old water bowl,

They would like to go into meadows, into dews,

Into embers; they would like to transform even

The firm rock and the snake’s head, and bee’s sting,

And bramble’s thorns into the swaths. But there’s no strength.

There is stillness on shady places for rest. The life, hidden

In the crackle of leaves, is dying and the weakness is crawling

In empty roads.


Scythes want the strength, but our strength

Bound by bayonets is thawing in wires.

Other haymakers have grabbed the scythes

And now greedily, instead into the water, they

Are dipping steepers into blood,

Looking for the grass between skulls. They would like

To transfer our veins into sheaves, our spite to tame.

We are no haymakes any more. We are only pierced numbers

In the swaths.


  1. Ashy between ash-trees 

(Spoken followed by a very quiet sound of the piano which sounds louder than the cannonade of cannons) 

Staring at the beauty of a wisp,

There, behind the wire, the one that guard’s foot

Hadn’t crushed yet, one skeleton, fascinated

With/by the riches of paradisiacal dining table,

Saw a butterfly. Through the scream and shriek

With a delicate thread that separates death from life,

The joy has from the mottled wings,

Scratching the wisp, hurried into the

Extinguished gaze.


Heavenly misery, bent on greed,

Can you see this mundane luxury?

A wisp and a butterfly in the same time,

In the same universe. Does the man need anything

Else? Flash of a bayonet is dipping into the mud,

Flash is ashamed of its own glow.

Sunshine would like to go into the mountain,

Water into darkness, a day is ashamed too.

Its worthless light is petrified.


Suddenly the skeleton has creaked.

The darkness has burnt everything.

There is only a wisp and only a butterfly

Is left. And the miracle happened:

A butterfly and a wisp united, facing the dust

And the storm, created a babe, a slender girl

Made of dreams. And Ashy between the ash-trees

A dance of life is dancing, looking for the dead

Leading dancer.


  1. Fairy tale about the heart 

(Mixed choir is singing, followed by a cheerful sound of an orchestra) 

Dead heart is beating, quiet throbs have shaken

The universe. Facing the strength of a germ that flourish

Out of it the mountains are trembling,

Rivers change their streams, they would like to direct

Their bound power into the new river beds.

The steel is afraid of the butterfly’s wing,

Breath of air is stopping the frightening storms,

Threads of dreams are breaking the chains and

The wild wires.


Lush grass is growing over the tombs.

Dead heart is beating for her greenery –

In the water, in the fire, on the burnt-out ruins.

The hope is ripening in a vein.

The flower is springing up out of the

Wizened tree, stretching out its dewy petals

Toward the Mountain, wishing to outgrow the truth,

To fertilize the pistil of the universe with its anther

And to reach the impossible.


The sun is dispersing fog from the

Face of a day, clouds are looking for new shelters.

Dead heart is beating. Hateful, loathsome

Monsters are running away into unknown places,

In the ruggedness to heal their incurable wounds without

A healer. It is tight for sights in the eyes. On the

Burnt-out ruins the mystic flower has become covered

With leaves, out of each leaf another hundred leaves

Are getting new lives.

Translation:  Svetlana Pavlović

Short URL: http://wp.me/p3RqN8-4cu

Categories: Стање@English

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