Borislav Arapović: Prolomom
Without following the imposed rules of the game, in modesty and silence, great Croatian literature is being given birth to at present. A nation, left without its own state and the rights it is entitled to as a nation due to the power of those in positions of authority and influence, managed to escape slavery in the 1990s. The nation started to reunite, regardless of where its people were. The gaolers set to work, and large-scale and merciless persecution began. Writers happened to be in the middle of it all. Many of them voiced their opinions and experiences in a modern way.
Borislav Arapović is one of those who knew exactly what he had to do. Having lived in the West he absorbed a sense of freedom and preserved it in spite of the siren-like wail of hypocrisy. Some would say that he did not forget his people and I say that he did not forget the oppressed. Proof of this is to be found in his biography. While communism still reigned in the USSR he fought against it in his own way. The KGB was on his tail. He, naturally, did not forget his own people either. It was on his people that he bestowed his book Gog i magog hrvatski (Croatian Cog and Magog) just a few years ago, and that now he bestows his collection of poems Prolomom (By Burst). He has persistently been building poetry without retreat, a poetry which has nothing to do with false philanthropy. He screams for the loss of humanity, he screams into the night surrounding him. He has no pity for anyone. He attacks the fickle not only of the West, but also of his own people and in his own motherland. It was the likes of them that contributed to the fact that there was nowhere he could return to in the region he was born in. The ethnocide or — as it is today hypocritically called — ethnic cleansing has been brought to an end. The »masters of ceremony« are on full alert watching closely that no trouble is stirred up. All the outcries from priests, the clergy, bishops and worshippers were in vain. Everything was decided on at the negotiating table, in peace, and any breaking the agreement was disallowed. But, it was »them« who agreed. Arapović writes about this in his cycle Eurobaalske bakanalije (Eurobaal's Bacchanalia).
The aforementioned shows that the present and current events exert a particularly strong influence on the poet. Irrespective of the extent to which his lyrical expression is highly perceptive and refined, he is currently a poet of defiance, revolt, a poet of social happenings. This keeps on coming to the fore in his collection very frequently. Regardless of what he writes about, he continues returning to his pains and sufferings within. He refuses to accept the order of things as they are, as other people want us to perceive it: he talks about things in his own peculiar way. He can sometimes sound harsh, but this harshness is justified. Let me cite his poem »Ne dolazi, Gospodine« (»Do not Come, Lord«). Here are some of its lines: »Ne dolazi nam i ove godine, Gospodine,/ manje je sada mjesta u našim vilama i hotelima/ nego nekad u betlehemskim straćarama i noćištima.../ Ne dođi nam kao dijete, Gospodine,/ jer kome je kod nas još i do djece?.../ A ako ipak odlučiš doći i ove godine/ u ovu našu lijepu prelijepu,.../ nek Josip pripazi na svoje magare,/ da mu i njeg ne bi naši tajkuni ukrali pa prodali.../ Ne dođi nam, Gospodine, i ove godine kao dijete,/ nego dođi kao onaj koji uvijek jesi,/ svega svijeta Svevladar presveti.../ Očisti taj svoj hram i od eurofarizeja,/ koji cijede naše komarce.../ Oprosti peru ovom drskom, jadnom, nalomljenom,/ Gospodine./ dođi nam dođi i ove godine...« (»Do not come to us this year too, Lord,/ there is less room now in our villas and hotels/ than there once was in the shacks and shelters of Bethlehem.../ Do not come to us as a child, Lord,/ as who here still cares about children?.../ But if you nevertheless decide to come this year too/ to our beautiful, overly beautiful,.../ make sure that Joseph watches his donkey,/ so that it too is not stolen and then; sold by our tycoons.../ Do not come to us, Lord, this year too as a child,/ but come as the one you always have been and are,/ the holy and Supreme Ruler of the whole world.../ Rid this temple of yours from the Euro-Pharises too,/ who juice our mosquitoes.../ Excuse this impertinent, poor and broken pen of mine,/ Lord,/ come, oh, do come to us this year too...«). Are we not moved by these lines? Is the poem's composition not well developed? Its simple profundity resembles the psalms sung by the Jewish people in their pain and suffering. I must also mention his poem »Uskrs u Den Haagu« (»Easter in The Hague«). It starts with the following lines: »pa kad i ovoga Uskrsa ustaneš/ Gospodine/ pokaži se i našim/ dreyfusovskim žrtvama u den haagu/ koje pohvataše/ dok su s jednog tisućgodišnjega groba/ nekog naroda tvoga/ odvaljivali kamen« (»so when you rise this Easter too/ Lord/ show yourself to our/ Dreyfusard victims in The Hague/ captured/ while tearing down the stone/ from a thousand-year-old tomb/ of a people of yours«). This Croatian poet as the pulse, the soul of his people screams because of the injustices brought upon not only the Croatian people but also upon all those who deeply care about justice and truth. Namely, The Hague lurks over their heads too.
Even when it does not talk about current events, Arapović’s collection continues to play similar-instruments. He talks about existence in the region he was born in. Only, his talk is not as clear as it is in the aforesaid poems. He also uses philosophising in order to express his thoughts (»U praskozorju sutona«/ »At the Twilight of Dusk«). Still, his verses do not abound with thoughts that ought to produce certain images in us, but rather abound with images that will produce certain thoughts in us.
Should the Croatian people manage to preserve their state, this period of Croatian literature — which Arapović is a full member of — will most certainly be described as glorious. It will be talked about as the literature of the samizdat and similar enterprises in the times of antihuman communism. This is a literature of breaking the shackles fastening and limiting both the body and the soul. Some — even some Croatians — neither do nor wish to ever understand it. But this is a true and genuine literature, a literature of individuals and a people who have decided to succeed. Yet, one is to go to great pains to make sure that literature remains literature when it talks about current events. I firmly believe that Arapović has succeeded in this. The poet in him is obviously a lot stronger than all the pain and suffering that has accumulated. He has remained human because of poetry. To what extent do the representatives of today's literature understand this? I shall not ask about the people. They undoubtedly do understand. Be that as it may, Arapović has given us an exceptional work.
• Published by Naklada DHK HB, Mostar 2005, 85 pages, ISBN 9958-798-11-5
Most (The Bridge), 1-2, Društvo hrvatskih književnika / The Croatian writers’ association, Zagreb, June 2006, pages 74 – 75