Bulgaria

Nikolai Liliev
1918

Тихият пролетен дъжд

Тихият пролетен дъжд
звънна над моята стряха,
с тихия пролетен дъжд
колко надежди изгряха!

Тихият пролетен дъжд
слуша земята и тръпне,
тихият пролетен дъжд
пролетни приказки шъпне.

В тихия пролетен дъжд
сълзи, възторг и уплаха,
с тихия пролетен дъжд
колко искрици изтляха!

Retrieved from public domain


The Gentle Spring Rain

The gentle spring rain
Rang above my roof,
With the gentle spring rain,
Myriad dreams arose!

The gentle spring rain
Hears the earth and quivers,
The gentle spring rain
Whispers tales of renewal.

In the gentle spring rain
Tears, rapture and freight;
With the gentle spring rain,
Myriad sparks quietly died!


Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of Nikolai Liliev’s symbolist poetry is the musicality of his language and style, as well as the ways in which the poet effortlessly brings forth the most mellifluous aspects of Bulgarian itself. While symbolist poetry fundamentally subscribes to an aesthetic paradigm of musicality in its form and, frequently, content, Liliev’s euphonic oeuvre stands in a category of its own. Despite the fact that other poets’ pieces have been deemed manifestos of the Bulgarian symbolist movement, Liliev is acknowledged as one of the most prominent literary figures of the period. Liliev’s verse is concise and economic, yet it carries a dense amount of meaning, sound and elegance of form and expression. The combinations of consonants in Liliev’s tropes and the repetitions of key lines further emphasize the musicality of both his poetry and the Bulgarian language in general.

One of the most challenging aspects in translating any of Liliev’s poems is to preserve the balance between their musicality, rhythm, sound and the refined literary style the poet uses, while staying within the boundaries of five to seven syllables in each verse. Another challenging aspect of the translation is rendering into English the synecdoche of the roof/rooftop (stryaha), which is inextricably associated in Bulgarian tradition with one’s home. Liliev’s language is literary, elegant and compact; it remains firmly grounded in the concrete, material world and reality without metaphysical elements, but it still encapsulates more transcendental nuances in its sound qualities.

Nikolai Liliev (an artistic pseudonym of Nikolai Popivanov) was a Bulgarian Symbolist poet, playwright, teacher and a journalist. Born in 1885 in the town of Stara Zagora, Liliev became an orphan early on in his life. Liliev studied literature in Lausanne and trade in Paris before returning to Bulgaria and dedicating himself to a literary and teaching career. He authored several poetic collections and cycles, including Birds in the Night (1918) and Lunar Speckles (1922).

Prepared by Miroslava Nikolova

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