Translated by the author
The poet Bogomil Gjuzel is one of the first and foremost Macedonian followers of the poetical theories and practices of many Anglo-Saxon poets, among which T. S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats and Ezra Pound take the prominent place. In the 1960s he translates essays and poems by these authors, but also writes essays on their poetics. From a chronological point of view, it is interesting to mention that T. S. Eliot’s “Gerontion” was first translated into Macedonian in 1960 by Bogomil Gjuzel, in the first issue of the literary magazine Razgledi. But Gjuzel’s contact with these authors is not purely that of translation; it would grow into a critical reception within his own poetic and essayistic output. Most critics note these intertextualities, especially after the publication of the poetry collection Alhemiska ruza (Alchemical Rose) in 1963 and the “Notes” to the poems, which unavoidably bring to mind Eliot’s notes to his poem The Waste Land. Although Gjuzel introduces within his critical and poetic output certain characteristics of the poetics of all aforementioned authors, there is something that emphasizes his inclination towards the Anglo-American poet T. S. Eliot. Both authors’ poetics follow many similar paths: the meaning of history and the past, their renewal and their communication with the present (and the reality of the poet), their interest in the archetypes of memory, their poetic anti-sentimentalism and anti-romanticism, the separation of poetic subject and the author of the poem, the creation of emotion in poetry through the images being presented with an often shocking expression that surpasses the limits of the real, the proclaimed intellectualism, the hermetic character of their poetry (difficult poetry). This is especially noticeable in the Notes to Alhemiska ruza (more precisely, the “Warning” before the notes), where Gjuzel eliminates the “illusion of absolute originality” and talks about the poet’s communication with the world, meaning the poetic experience and the “world of other, external experiences”, by which he means both the world of literature and the society in which the poet is creating. Of course, Gjuzel, too, proposes “a certain positive-negative attitude towards tradition”, critical, which resonates with Eliot’s idea of a tradition that cannot be taken as “an indiscriminate bolus”. As to the author’s originality (“novelty” in literature), both Gjuzel and Eliot say that originality should not be sought forcefully, almost with fear, as that does not always imply quality, but can rather lead to “disintegration” of the poet’s sensibility. These ideas of Gjuzel can be found as early as 1960, when he publishes a manifesto together with Radovan Pavlovski, in which they promote the idea of reconstructing the epic in the context of Macedonia, the epic that is born from the past/memory of the people, and not the history (Gjuzel always makes a sharp distinction between constructed history and the inevitable past), the epic that is “personal and collective, the distinctive feature of a time”, the epic in which the modern hero—the poet, the ordinary man—by way of deconstructing the model of the epic, will have to fight his way through problems, fight for his contemporaneity, for the reassessment of “old values that need to be revised”.
Gjuzel is regarded as a versatile and complex poet, equally Macedonian and foreign, equally autobiographical and universal; this makes it difficult to select two poems by both authors that can be duly compared. Still, the purpose of this short comparison of the poetics of both authors has been to show that Gjuzel’s sensibility is closest to that of Eliot’s—that is the frame of his poetry, which later allows him to receive and process all kinds of impulses. Hence the selection of “Gerontion” and “Sick Dojchin”, two poems that will allow us to illustrate the poetics of both authors in practice, thereby presenting a significant aspect of their literary output, without falling into the trap of looking for sources and identifying the types of citation in them.