(Lenče Miloševska, Stone Messages, Matica Makedonska, Skopje, 1999)
Lenče Miloševska, with her unobtrusive presence in the Macedonian culture, is seemingly better known to Macedonian readers through her translating achievements (which are, by the way, verified with two awards: Bozhidar Nastev and Vangja Čašule). But, it is obvious that Lenče Miloševska’s modesty as a writer stands in the way of her overall creative personality, because by hiding herself as an author behind the allegedly more important, less personal work of a translator, through that language medium she presents – another author.
The occasion for this pointing to the literary values of Lenče Miloševska’s works (My Thirsty Land, 1992; Censer of the Day, 1996; Milky Way, 1997), is her latest collection of poems Stone Messages (1999), which we recommend to the Macedonian readership.
The collection of poems Stone Messages consists of two series of unequal size: the cycle Motifs from Matka includes 36 poems, and the cycle Metagrams only seven poems. The poems in the first part of this book belong to the unrhymed, blank verse lyric poetry, while the second part consists of lyric prose, which produces good balance and emphasizes the subtle lyricism.
Lenče Miloševska, in a particularly interesting way, varies the use of the second person. It is this person that most often discloses the love relationship I-You (We are adults and senselessness is not becoming to our love, but if you wish, I could be your slave – Love). It is striking that this you-addressing is also used in the cases in which Macedonian language implies both an interlocut and the “generally speaking” type of address, which can be interpreted as “self-addressing”:
PLAYING WITH THE UNKNOWN
Life is playing with the Unknown
From cocoon you come
To cocoon you go.
Pain makes you grow
You are just the observer
In the theatre of failures.
You even happen to knit
a web-like yarn.
This use of the second person can also have an alternative reading of solidarity with women, as it does in the following poem:
FROM PAGAN RITUAL SACRIFICE
Naked they carried you out,
You didn’t falter in the sun.
They sacrificed you innocent
White as alabaster.
The skies never thundered
And rain never poured.
Humbled and mocked
The pagans fled.
Appalled by their vile passion,
The altar and I remember you.
Lenče Miloševska points most directly to her feminine subtlety in the I-You poems, but subtlety is the obvious amalgam in her other poems as well. Both in the poems in which the first person singular and plural is used and in those insisting upon the distance allowed by the third person, Lenče Miloševska observes the world with the same feminine refinement, noticing seemingly trivial, insignificant things, which in fact speak about universal truths of life and about events which, by repeating themselves, build unavoidable rules that cruelly control human lives.
“To rest and purify my soul, I have been freezing it for six centuries” seems to be the key line which embodies her attitude towards the world. The careless will only read its meaning of “passivism”, “submissiveness”, that, undoubtedly, is present in this and other of Miloševska’s poems. But instead of turning the lyrical subject into an impersonal slave, the feelings (toward the world, the others and toward the loved one – the Other and Different) formulated in this way, make that subject an active, contemplative human being, who, by looking at the imperfections of the world, is able to agree to its role of a victim, although making subtle conversions: the victim becomes a contemplative agent, offering different solutions and pointing toward its sense and awareness of the relationships it enters.
This awareness, which according to us is the key feature of this poetry, does never shout, cries out, whine or scream. Its fierce, but seemingly calm whisper talks about absolutely exciting perceptions which, obviously, agitate Lenče Miloševska’s inner world. Her unpretentious lines sound like fierce, alarming whisper and it is the quietness of this whisper that makes us strain to listen better to its truths. Her poems, shy, veiled by the author’s modesty and almost blending with the background, thus become sharp and exquisite.
This game of shyness and self-consciousness is best expressed in the following poem:
A SCULPTURE. NUDE.
Created by lustrous
and shadowy shimmers,
my proportions are ideal.
Yet, this naked body,
This burning flesh,
The subtle eroticism of this poem is attained through the “alibi” of the title. “The gracefully balanced’, “ideal proportions” belong to the sphere introduced by the title, so that the self-love of the first person does not appear until the second verse where there is a switch – the conversion of the perfect proportions into a body whose ideality has yet to be verified!
In her latest book of poems, Lenče Miloševska inevitably touches the problem of time. This motif has been transparently presented in the poem Saga, and it has been masterly entwined in the more complex poem Spring, Summer, Autumn, in which the motif of love is only a screen for the motif of eternal condemnation to loneliness.
“We are but ants that walk along a million light year long road and think that finally, because it could have ended otherwise, they happily arrive at the end,” says Lenče Miloševska in her text From the Other Side of Our Lives. In accordance with her human nature, quietly and yet unswervingly and with so much tolerance for the Other, she tells us her perceived truths, which, indeed, very often make us “perfectly lonely”, but also perfectly aware that we are – human.
The silent voices can oftentimes get lost in the meaningless noise of the empty words. Have confidence, listen to the whisper of this poetry, and if you listen carefully, you may be surprised by its amazing truths!
Translated by: Nataša Levkova Papazovska