The man from the balcans...

I am not ashamed of being,
as You would say,
a barbarian from the Balcans,
home of all that's unclean and stormy.
Now you will hear that we too have
cultures of which You have no notion.

You first investigate everything, are sceptical,
You are at a great distance even from Your children,
and at Your table
You would not seat any foreigner;
You can drink without offering everyone a glass of wine.

But we still keep our rough old customs:
we let anyone in under our roof,
we still greet with a kiss even a chance visitor,
and in our land,for hospitality's sake,we rise to great
in our country every man has
a whole tribe
of friends and relations.

You, it is true, have
many millions of statues of Christ,
one statue for every person,
you find them on the roads and in the fields.
In the prisons and in the schools;
but in our country, when people believe in God,
they carry him within themselves,
and quietly pray to him
as if in a dream.

You, it is true, for every corner of life
have some sort of apparatus or machine,
you have calculated everything, you know everything,
your inventions are to be marveled at;
but we still keep our ancient tools,
yet everything in our life is still sound
and natural like clay:
dying and being born and living.

You have whole collections
of rules and teachings about freedom,
in your land you write and preach about everything;
but we, raven though our laws are unwritten,
live our lives in freedom
and keep to some sort of natural order,
like fire, wind and water.

In your country, certainly, everything is prescribed
how one should eat, speak, and dress;
but we shout when we speak
and wave our hands
and sip our soup noisily,
and when we wear gloves
we are simply in torment.

Everything in our a country is really simple;
the footwear we wear is made of pig's hide,
and we have kept from our peasant background
many habits and many objects;
and our king's ancestors
really were cattle grazers.

Our people, it's true, when they get angry, can slaughter,
smash things up and burn them,
but we are not the kind of people who oppress others deliberately,
we don't consider that the whole world is
our field of action;
we could not bear it
that even an aborigine from the bush should weep because of us;
we have a heart that's broad,
though we be few in number.


Desanka Maksimovic