- Write each of your poems
- as if it were your last.
- In this century, saturated with strontium,
- charged with terrorism,
- flying with supersonic speed,
- death comes with terrifying suddenness.
- Send each of your words
- like a last letter before execution,
- a call carved on a prison wall.
- You have no right to lie,
- no right to play pretty little games.
- You simply won’t have time
- to correct your mistakes.
- Write each of your poems,
- tersely, mercilessly,
- with blood — as if it were your last.
As Long as You’re Upright
- Don’t forget to rejoice! —
- the wise trees whisper
- as they crash on failing knees
- under the ax.
- Don’t forget to rejoice!
- As long as you’re upright,
- as long as you encounter the wind,
- as long as you breathe the heights.
- As long as the ax slumbers.
Blaga Dimitrova (1922–2003) was not only one of Bulgaria’s most loved and celebrated writers — the author of many collections of poetry as well as novels, plays, and essays — but also an important figure in her nation’s political life, becoming the first vice president of Bulgaria after the fall of the Communist government. These two poems are translated by Ludmilla G. Popova-Wightman from Scars: Poems of Blaga Dimitrova, published by Ivy Press, Princeton, NJ, and are reprinted by permission.