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This poem is taken from PN Review 46, Volume 12 Number 2, November - December 1985.

from Links Miodrag Pavlović

Translator's Note: The Serbian poet Miodrag Pavlović's most significant poetry up to the early 1970s was primarily concerned with a popular version of Balkan history and civilization and the resultant archetypal myths and legends which have crystallized and preserved that vision as a source of continuing poetic tradition and culture.

At about this time excavation work on a new power station alongside the Danube at the Iron Gates near the Yugoslav-Roumanian frontier brought to light an important mesolithic river civilization at the settlement of Lepenski Vir. Subsequent systematic investigation made possible a reconstruction of the social organization of the river society and the discovery of a large quantity of artefacts and cult objects permitted conclusions to be arrived at with regard to the cultural practices of the community. These were sufficient to allow Pavlović to take his interest in early forms and origins of myth and legend back into pre-history in his poetry. The result was the poems of Singing at the Whirlpool published in 1977.

The interest generated amongst archaeologists by the large-scale discoveries at Lepenski Vir stimulated excavation further afield along the course of the Danube and a considerable number of neolithic sites were found, in particular, one large settlement higher up the river towards Belgrade. In the poems of Links, published in 1978, Pavlović attempts to establish an association between basic attitudes of neolithic man and those of his distant present-day descendants, heirs to the same terrain and very remotely, to the same traditions.


Here by the Danube
there's still barley
further up north
the grasses are hollow
all that man knows
has come together
            on the terrace
from mud is born
            harvest and pitcher
between the bushes fly
            wonderful birds

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