Athanase Vantchev de Thracy (France)

Exclusive: European poetry: Curated by Agron Shele
Athanase Vantchev de Thracy is the author of over sixty volumes of poetry in both classical and free verse, covering almost the entire spectrum of prosody.
He has produced a series of monographs and a doctoral thesis on ‘Light Symbolism in the Poetry of Paul Verlaine’. Athanase has also written, in Bulgarian, a study of the great Epicurean patrician Petronius (Petronius arbiter elegantarium), the favourite of Nero and author of the Satyricon, and in Russian, a master’s degree dissertation on ‘Poetics and Metaphysics in the Work of Dostoevsky’. With his extensive knowledge of the ancient world, Athanase Vantchev de Thracy has devoted numerous articles to Greek and Latin poetry. During the two years he spent in Tunisia, he produced three successive works on the two Punic-era Tunisian cities, ‘Monastir-Ruspina: the Face of Light’, ‘El-Djem Thysdrus: Fiancée of the Azure’ and ‘The Mosaics of Thysdrus’.
During extended stays in Syria, Turkey, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Morocco and Mauritania, he was deeply impressed by his encounter with Islam and spent long years in the study of the religious history of the East. Athanase is a laureate of the Académie Française, a member of the Bulgarian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Brazilian Academy of Letters, the Academy of Higher Education of Ukraine, the European Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters and the Academy of Udmurtia (Russian Federation). He is Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria and of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, laureate of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a member of French PEN., a member of the Société des Gens de Lettres de France, and the Maison des Écrivains et de la Littérature, President of the international movement Poetas del Mundo and a Universal Ambassador for Peace (Geneva). He has been decorated with the highest honour of the Bulgarian state, the Order of Stara Planina. His poetry has been translated into 28 languages.


Two Short Breaths
to Máša Halamová

1.

Always the fresh
sparkling waters of the stream
at dawn,
the beating heart
and the sonorous grammar
of the blue tits’ song!
And this gentle golden light
of the buttercups
filling the soul with joy.

2.

The white anthuriums
in the crystal vase,
the burning consonants of the air
and your delicate hands
intimate with my dreams.
On the bright white cloth
the red fire of some apples.
And I remain calm and motionless
in the face of the day!


Twilight Emotion

‘Wi' lithsome heart I pulled a rose
Full sweet upon its flowerin' tree
And my false lover he stole my rose
But ah! he left the thorn wi' me’
                                      Robert Burns

This evening, at twilight,
sitting on  my veranda,
above me the chorus of an army of sparrows,
I read your wonderful poems,
my tender brother in poetry,
my very dear Robert Burns.

And it was the ebb and flow of the universe,
the unscrupulous currents of destiny,
bright hearts and burials,
the injurious circle
in which your brief existence was enclosed,
of which you sang so loudly!

And then a twilight emotion
took hold of my soul
and rid my heart of its inertia!

O, the vertical chronology of the days:
the permanence of waters,
the incision of children’s cries,
the blazing fury of poppies,
the monotonous ardour of the summer
in its crimson tunic,
the wild brightness of the air
where the smiles of familiar
things gleam,
the space where hope begins
and desires that come alive
in a moment!

O the perfect clarity
of your verses,
these dark clouds
clinging to the rough skin of time!

The poignant truth
in the hard labour
of your Scottish ancestors!

O my brother in Poetry,
how dear to my soul
are the sweet desolation of your poems,
the brilliant colours of your dreams,
the renewed fervour of love!

Ah, this trembling emotion
in the heavy undulation of the hours
and the purple eddies of dusk!


Impetuous Beauty of the Night
to Elizabeth Canori Mora

The bewitching song of frogs
playing with the brooch of the moon
in the green waters of happiness!

Shining circles of forms defined
by the graceful dance of shadows!

The mauve mist
gently extinguishes
the light from windows!

The incandescent quiet,
the indecipherable space
the night bringing virtue to words!

Cantors and Chartists carrying censers,
young naviculars,
the tutelary God of joy,
pleasant resoluteness of sudden inspiration!

And our childish names, my Angel,
writings in smooth red ink
in ancient parish registers!

O this immortality breathing
in our frail breasts!

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