Longing for the South – Analysis by Blazhe Koneski


The poem is constructed upon an antithesis. We notice this immediately at a text level, serving as the basis of the composition. The poem is naturally divided into two nearly equal parts, placed in an antithesis to each other. Whereas the first part (verses 1-18) describes the harsh northern climate and in a parallel image presents the poet’s dark mood, the second part (verses 19-34) is in opposition of this with a vision of the beauty of his native southern climate, where the soul finds tranquility. At the same time, this division presents the characteristic symmetrical structure of the poem, which uses other means later on, such as repetition of certain verses and key words. Therefore, the first part starts with the verses:

Орелски крилја как да си метнех,
И в наши ст’рни да си прелетнех,
На наши места ја да си идам,
Да видам Стамбол, Кукуш да видам…

If I had an eagle’s wings
I would rise and fly on them
To our shores, to our own parts,
To see Stamboul, to see Kukus;

These verses vary in the fourth stanza, as an important signal for the beginning of the second part:

Дајте ми крилја ја да си метнам,
И в наши ст’рни да си прелетнам,
На наши места ја да си идам,
Да видам Охрид, Струга да видам.

Give me wings and I will don them;
I will fly to our own shores,
Go once more to our own places,
Go to Ohrid and to Struga.

Giving an equal impulse to the thought in both cases, the poet was unwilling to completely repeat himself, but rather chooses different words, varies the morphological characteristics, and in the change of the names of the cities, he was so precise that he simply follows the stages of his imaginary return journey (Stamboul – Kukus – Ohrid – Struga).

Marked clearly like this in the beginning, both parts of the poem are formed as two whole entities, with appropriate ending chords. In the couplet 17-18 and 33-34, the comma placement suggests equal cadence: “Околу м’гли и мразој земни, / А в гр’ди студој, и мисли темни: Тамо по с’рце в кавал да свирам, / Санце да зајдвит, ја да умирам” (Fogs all around, the earth is ice, / And in the breast are cold, dark thoughts. / To pipe there to my heart’s content! /Ah! let the sun set, let me die).

At a lexical level, we are met with numerous established contrasts. The opposition of: тамо: вамо (there: here) in verses 6 and 7 and овде (here) in verses 8, 13, 19 and тамо (there) in verses 25, 27, and 33, is a visible part of the concretization of the basic antithesis and this contributes to the symmetrical structure of the poem. E.g., Овде је мрачно и мрак м’ обвива 13: Тамо зората греит душата 25 (It is dark here; dark surrounds me 13: There the sunrise warms the soul 25). It is interesting that in the eighth verse before here, the autograph shows a crossed off hither. The poet did not dwell on this word, of course, feeling that by using here, a more explicit sound contrast to there would be achieved. Other lexical elements enter into this kind of opposition. The sun that “dimly rises” (6) is not the same southern sun that “greets me brightly” (11) or “sets bright” (26). The benevolence of this bright sun is increased by the impressive image of the starry sky in the following couplet: К’де с’нцето светло угревјат, /Каде небото ѕвезди посевјат 11- 12 (Where the sunrise greets me brightly, / And the sky is sewn with stars 11-12). The northern “темна м’гла (dark fog” 14) awakens мисли темни (dark thoughts 18), whereas hope and joy are reborn from the vision of the southern “бистро езеро” (dear lake 29).

We have separated several indicators, important for discovering the poem’s layers and the characteristics of its composition. Of course, the rapture of the thought, the liveliness of the expression, the musical flow of entire intervals – seems to make the poem’s message feel very poetic. Verses such as these, quite simply seek each other out by contrast:

Мразој и снегој и пепелници,
Силни ветришча и вијулици (15-16)

Here are frosts and snows and ashes.
Blizzards and harsh winds abound (15-16)

as opposed to:

Бистро езеро гледаш белеит,
Или од ветар сино-тшнеит (29-30)

See the dear lake stretching white –
Or bluely darkened by the wind, (29-30)

Seemingly gathered together by a convulsive pain, in the first instance, the Macedonian words express the harshness of the raging nature, whereas in the second one, the soul – in its appeasement – has reached a calm orchestration of light vowels.

“Longing for the South” is one of the first templates, a remarkable one at that, of a Macedonian artistic poem. It represents a watershed, placed against our folk poetry by way of adopting the artistic poetic expression. However, in this text too, the link with the folk poem, clearly visible in other texts by K. Miladinov, has not been severed, and is, in fact, visibly present. The meter itself, a symmetrical decasyllable with caesura after the fifth syllable, can be found in some Macedonian folk poems, although not often. It seems that with this, the poet cleared a space where he will not be limited by the most basic sound of folk singing. The language of Macedonian folk poetry has found its way to this poem together with some of its characteristics, the primary one being the non-doubling of the object and leaving out articles in some cases. E.g., Да видам Охрид, Струга да видам 24; Тамо зората греит душата, /И с’нце светло зајдвит в гората 25-26; Ако как овде с’нце ме стретит, / Ако пак мрачно с’нцето светит 7-8 (Go to Ohrid and to Struga 24; There the sunrise warms the soul, The sun sets bright in mountain woods 25-26; If the sun still rises dimly, If it meets me there as here 7-8). The use of the non-syllable form of the preposition в, во (in): в гората 26 (in mountain woods 26) is characteristic for the language of folk poetry, same as the form of the adverb как (as): как овде 7 (as here 7). An archaic form of the definite adjective we have in the: п’т далечни 9 (further travels 9). We should not relinquish the possibility for a reflection of the Russian language here (путю далекий – distant travel). The verb метне (don) can be found in folk poems from different regions, and even in the “Anthology of the Brothers Miladinov” in the poem no. 618.

The vocabulary of “Longing for South” is not limited by the word fund of the Macedonian folk poetry and the Macedonian folk language. Under Russian influence, lexemes from a higher literary stratum have been activated, which then, oftentimes with a certain adaptation, have become quite common in our literary language. The most prominent Russian word, included here without a phonetic adaptation, is роскош 28 (richly). To this, we can add природна сила 27 (nature’s power 27).

“Longing for the South” is characterized with a quite unequivocal selection of morphological forms. As such, first person singular present tense only ends in -м (m), but not as -а (a), which is the case in some other poems by K. Miladinov. However, there is one concession from this consistency in the selection of the morphological elements. In the case of the regular -т (t) in the third person singular present tense, we have examples which have omitted this suffix in these verses: Овде је мрачно и мрак м’ обвива/ и темна м’гла земја покрива (It is dark here; dark surrounds me / Dark foг covers all the earth). It seems that this deviation is not by chance. Throughout the third stanza we are met with words ending in a vowel, some consisting of three syllables. The feeling for euphony was obviously present in the author when choosing the forms. He did not repeat this in verses 29-30: белеит: сино-темнеит (white: bluey darkened) because by omitting the -т (t) here, reading with two moraes would be easier to mandate.

Following the undertaken analysis, we can ascertain that not only in the basic plans for the composition, but even down to the details, the poem “Longing for the South” was created with a feeling of a person who has conquered the rich poetics of the romantic sphere. Created upon the antithesis between darkness and light, between pain and joy, between being lost abroad and the hope that a person will find themselves only in the place where they uttered their first cry – this poem ends with the final couplet in a weird fashion, with a reconciliation of the most essential antithesis, the one between life and death:

Тамо по срце в кавал да свирам,
с’нце да зајдвит, ја да умирам.

To pipe there to my heart’s content!
Ah! let the sun set, let me die.

This parallel image с’нце да зајдвит (let the sun set), which concludes a whole string of images depicting the beauty of his native nature, comforts and poetically resists the inevitableness of destiny. The poem’s title fits perfectly – it is a poem of great sorrow, loneliness and helplessness.

Blazhe Koneski

translated by:
Gorjan Kostovski