Nikola Vaptsarov

(7 December 1909 - 23 July 1942 / Bulgaria)



Francesca Labore

Fernandéz is killed!
is dead and buried
lieas in the fields
on the outskirts
of Madrid.

He was such a good man, tell me -
why did they cut short his life?
Through my Fernandéz has perished
they shall still go out and fight.

Mother, there is only you
to whom I can my grief unfold.
You know how it is in war,
and how many tears do flow.

I look for signs of sympathy
in other women's eyes,
but there too I find bitter grief
and tears, fresh tears arise...

Perhaps a piece of bursing shell
a loved one killed on duty,
perhaps a piece of bursting shell
has ravished youthful beauty.

perhaps like me she's vainly hoping
and some news awaits,
but the moist earth already holds him
in her strong embrace...

Mother, you should not reproach him
that he went away to fight.
Now I even think that we
were sinning. Fernandéz was right.

He alone of us perceived
the single truth in life -
that it is best a man should die
than live the life of beasts.

Bread we had. A single loaf
was enough for two.
But for the son who will be born,
Mother, will it do?

And there's another thing - somehow
it's hard to understand.
They go and fight together. Why?
Is bread the only bond?
Today there was a funeral
for those trapped in a shelter.
With my own eyes I saw it all
but can't find words to tell you.

How strange a sight it seemed to me,
how curious it was,
for on the people buried there
a wondrous radiance shone. -

I saw them only for an instant
in between the coffin planks,
through the coffin boards I saw them
stretching out their hands.

In their death they fuse together,
as one man they lie,
and the flames of happy death
burn brightly in their eyes...

All at once I understood
he had to go to war.
Fernandéz died in the battle -
I'll see him no more.

Mother, Fernandéz has perished!
Mother, Fernandéz has gone,
Fernandéz is dead and buried!
Weep, because he died so young.

But to the old man say nothing! -
Sorrow will be his undoing.
Hide yourself somewhere, cry softly
and say nothing, nothing.

If somehow he realizes,
if somehow he should suspect it,
say that both of us are well,
and a baby is expected.

You may say to him: Dolores
is now learning fairy tales,
she and Fernandéz write asking
would you like a boy or girl.

To write you any more, dear mother,
would but cause me further sorrow.
Greeting from your loving daughter,
Dolores Maria Goya.

Submitted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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