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Witness to the First Beauty

Father Rajmund Kupareo was a Croatian Dominican religious priest, theologian, philosopher, emigrant, poet, story-teller, novelist, playwright, composer and a Chilean Emeritus professor.


Rajmund Kupareo

 Rajmund Kupareo in his religious cell in Zagreb in May 1978

Life


He was born a hundred years ago, on November 16, 1914 in Vrboska, the island of Hvar, as a descendant of an old noble family of central Dalmatia. He entered the Order of the Preachers in Dubrovnik in 1930 and was ordained priest in Split in 1937. He studied philosophy, theology and languages in Dubrovnik, Zagreb (Croatia), Olomouc (Moravia), Santiago de Chile (Chile) and Washington, D.C. (USA).

During World War II, Kupareo was the editor-in-chief of Gospina krunica (Our Lady’s Rosary), a monthly magazine in Zagreb. He was also the manager of the Dominican publishing house Istina (Truth) which published a translation of The Story of a Soul by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and Razmišljanja o krunici (Meditations on the Rosary), a book translated by Msgr. Aloysius Stepinac, the Archbishop of Zagreb. The arrival of the communist troops in the spring of 1945 hindered his project to publish all the sermons and speeches delivered by Stepinac from 1934 to 1944, in which the Archbishop had strongly condemned racism and intolerance and emphasized the right of the Croatian people to have their own state. After having entered Zagreb, the communists destroyed the entire edition of 10.000 books in the printing-house. Only one copy was saved and Stepinac later used it at his trial to show that there was no freedom of press in Tito’s Yugoslavia.

Two months after Stepinac had been sentenced to 16 years in prison, Kupareo was forced to leave Croatia on January 2nd, 1947, and did not see his homeland until June 10th, 1971. Kupareo took refuge in the Czech Republic and then the Netherlands, France and Spain. Finally, in 1950, this political refugee found his place on the hillsides of the Andes in Chile. He spent most productive years of his life as a professor of aesthetics and axiology in Santiago de Chile he served there as the dean of the Faculty of Philosophy (twice) and the vice-rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. He was the founder of the Institute of Aesthetics and the School of Journalism in Santiago de Chile, as well as initiator and editor of several publications. As the official representative of his university, he travelled through North, Central and South America, Europe and the Middle East.

Receiving honorary Ph.D. degree “scientiae et honoris causa” on June 5 1959 he said that he was accepting it gratefully in the name of his Order as well as in the name of his “suffering Croatia, which sees in me the representative of its noble Christian spirit”.

Here is a chronological list of places he had visited and recorded in his “Duck’s” odyssey: Belgrade 3 January 1947, Budapest 5 January 1947, Bratislava 5 January 1947, Olomouc 6 January 1947, Prague 21 January 1947, Jablonné (Gabel) 20 May 1947, Košice 30 August 1947, Nuremberg 31 October 1947, Cologne 1 November 1947, Amsterdam 1 November 1947, Nimeguen 1 November 1947, North Sea 6 November 1947, The Hague 22 December 1947, Rotterdam 2 January 1948, Brussels 11 March 1948, Leuven 14 March 1948, Paris 15 March 1948, Madrid 2 April 1948, Santiago de Compostela 31 August 1948, Vigo 2 August 1949, Santiago de Chile 18 May 1950, Miami 7 October 1952, Chicago 8 October 1952, Basel 13 October 1954, Buenos Aires 14–19 August 1957, Montevideo, Uruguay, 19–21 August 1957, São Paolo, Brazil, 21–22 August 1957, Rio de Janerio 23–26 August 1957, Lisbon 28 August 1957, Barcelona 29 August 1957, Nice 30 September 1957, Rome 1–2 September 1957, Bologna 3 September 1957, Milan 4 September 1957, Venice 5–7 September 1957, Trieste 8 September 1957, Florence 9 September 1957, Naples 19 September 1957, Paris (again) 23 September 1957, Chartres 2 October 1957, Versailles 12 October 1957, Fribourg 17 October 1957, Bern 18 October 1957, Zurich 1 November 1957, Munich 1 November 1957, Vienna 6 November 1957, Madrid (again) 14 November 1957, El Escorial and Ávila, Spain, 21 November 1957, Toledo, Spain, 23 November 1957, Seville 27 November 1957, London 2 December 1957, New York City 7 December 1957, Houston 23 December 1957, Chicago (again) 11 December 1957, Tacoma, Washington, 18 December 1957, New York City (again) 22 February 1959, Rome (again) 14 September 1959.

A stroke hit him on 14 May 1970 and forced him to retire. He returned to his homeland to die, but has recovered to a certain degree and led a secluded and simple life in the Dominican priory in Zagreb. Despite his frail condition, he continued his literary and scientific work. In 1985 he became a member of Academia chileana de la lengua of the Instituto de Chile, the Chilean Academy of Arts and Letters. After the democratic changes in Croatia he finally became a member of the Croatian Writers Association. Earlier on, he also became a member of Matica hrvatska and the American Society for Aesthetics. Several of the highest Chilean and Croatian awards were conferred on him towards the end of his life and posthumously. He died in Zagreb on June 6, 1996.

Bro. Rajmund Kupareo published 25 different volumes of his writings: nine treatises on aesthetics (in Latin, Spanish and Croatian) and 14 books of poetry, novels, stories and plays (in Croatian, Czech and Spanish). His poetry is compiled in the anthology Svjetloznak (Lightsign, 1994; after his death two more poems were found in manuscript form and published in the Vjesnik daily on June 6, 1998). His poems distinguished him in the Croatian literature as an unequaled poet of Christmas and Good Friday and of unassuming but powerful patriotism. Deeply inspired by Christianity, he was a man of strong faith with an unfaltering love for his homeland and a persistent inner self-searching. His artistic sensibility made him open to nature and his fellow man, yet reflective and melancholy.


Works


Rajmund Kupareo was a learned poet, scientist, educator, composer and dramatist, whose works included:

POETRY: 260 poems on diverse subjects – from outstanding poems inspired by his beloved homeland and impressions of landscape to Yuletide and Nativity poems, Lenten elegies, Easter hymns, poems to Jesus and Mary and imitations of Hebrew psalms. The Jesus of Kupareo’s poetry is close to Man at all times, but, in distinction from Šop‘s poetry, He always remains God, just like the crucified Christ of Bl. Angelico‘s frescos. Kupareo was true to the centuries-old Dominican heritage that always regarded the Poet from Nazareth in the form of God (sub specie Dei).

COMPOSITIONS of a religious and secular character: the manuscripts of polyphonic motets and even a few operettas, mainly to his own lyrics, are kept in Dominican priories’ archives in Croatia, Chile and Italy. For example, he put to music O Spem Miram (O wonderful hope), the famous prayer to St. Dominic, while he was in Las Caldas de Besayu priory (Spain) in 1949.

STORIES on World War II and the lifes of Dominicans, priests, professors and emigrants in Latin and North America: Balada iz Magallanesa (The Ballad from Magallanes, 1978), Čežnja za zavičajem (Longing for Home, 1989) and Patka priča (Tales by a Duck, 1994).[1]

NOVELS: U morskoj kući (In the Sea House, 1939), Jedinac (The Only Son, 1942), Baraban (Barabban,[2] 1943) and Sunovrati (The Narcissi, 1960).

PLAYS: 2 plays for children – Magnificat and Sliepo srdce (The Blind Heart, 1944) and 3 mystery playsMuka Kristova (Christ’s Passion, Madrid, 1948), Uskrsnuće (The Resurrection, 1983) and Porođenje (The Nativity, 1984), last 3 were published together under the title Prebivao je među nama (He Resided Among Us, 1985). In his mystery plays on Jesus he brought to life a specifically Dominican theological heritage which attempts to maintain God’s divinity. Jesus never appears on the stage, we sometimes only hear His voice. It seems as if He is not there, yet we strongly feel His presence. In The Passion, Kupareo assigned the main role to Barabbas – to corruption, to Man himself.

BOOKS ON AESTHETICS: Ars et moralis (1951), El Valor del Arte – Axiología estética (1964), Creationes Humanas, I, La Poesia (1965), Creationes Humanas, II, El Drama (1966), Umjetnik i zagonetka života (The Artist and the Mystery of Life, 1982), Govor umjetnosti (Language of the Art, 1987), Čovjek i umjetnost (Man and the Art, 1993) and Um i umjetnost (Intellect and Art, 2007).[3]


Legacy


The Kupareo legacy can be summed up into one of his poems, Isus u mojoj lađi, first published in February 1937. Half a century the author explained that this poem “immerses time and human effort in eternity”.[4]

In English translation by Iva Čuvalo from 1997 it says:


“Jesus In My Boat


Lifeless waves disgorge my oars.

I go so slowly despite all my strength.

And He sleeps peaceful (as if He doesn’t know of me)

But never mind that. He is still here.

I have strong faith to defy the wind

And I know that Jesus favours me.

So, when the heavy oars slip out of my hands,

I shall sleep, and row will He.”


The translation renders only the meaning, while the magnificence of Kupareo’s poetry lies in the easiness of perfect compound of content, verse, rhyme, rhythm and melody of texts. And all of them, except content, wane in translation. Non-speakers of Croatian, although not understanding the Croatian text, can feel rhythm and rhyme of the original verses. Therefore, here it is in Croatian original as well.


“Isus u mojoj lađi


Mrtvi mi valovi izbacuju vesla.

Sporo idem uza snagu svu.

A On mirno spava (k’o da ne zna za me)

Ništa za to. On je ipak tu.

Imam vjeru čvrstu da prkosim vjetru

I znam da je Isus meni sklon,

Pa, kad teška vesla iz ruku mi padnu,

Ja ću zaspat, a veslat će On.“


I tried to reconstruct the genesis of this poem. Here is what I found. At the end of 1936 Kupareo published narrative Crna lađa (Black Boat)[5] describing how Paron Zorzi, resident of Vrboska, has offered his old boat for St. Peter’s bonfires. Paron means the master of the ship, and Zorzi is George in Hvar’s dialect, so the skipper can be identified as Kupareo’s father Jure (1885–1943), who “took his wife and his son Luka” (which is Bro. Rajmund’s baptismal name) to Gornja Podgora, 19 nautical miles away, on a pilgrimage to St. Vincent (celebrated on the 16th of August). After they fulfilled their vow, they headed back during the night and raised the sail. Paron Zorzi handed over the helm to his son and fell asleep. At the dawn a summer storm blew in the Hvar Channel. Luka got scared and woke his father. The situation was serious and difficult. Soon their boat was caught in huge deadly waves threatening to overturn them. Suddenly – wave poured into the ship. The wife cried to Our Lady. The father said to Luka to draw water as quickly as possible, and then to lower the sail. But as he was doing it, boy slipped his leg and the sail fell into the sea. It was a miracle how they survived.

So, a young friar had linked this personal experience of a storm at Adriatic Sea with Gospel passage on the storm calmed by Jesus (Mt 8:23-25; Mk 4:35-41; Lk 8:22-25) into his own scene. We can compare the tempest from Kupareo’s narrative to his poem: the sail is replaced by oars, the company of parents by presence of Jesus, and the boy’s fear by Friar’s confidence. In relation to the pericope: the Peter’s boat is the Kupareo’s boat; the wind is not an issue, just waves; apostles are not many, just one; Jesus does not speak, but rows; He does not give commandment to wind and the sea but helps the man and keeps the boat moving. His sleeping and His appearance present Him a man, while His presence, perseverance and kindness point out the God.

In both cases: Jesus passes over the sea of this world with His own; Christians are embarked in the boat of Church and make their voyage through the stormy world with the Lord. Young Blackfriar has learned from Psalm 121:4 that the Protector / Keeper / Guardian of Israel does not sleep, although it might seem so. Therefore, the faith is the answer: the Savior is here, a believer does not fear danger; the Life is beside a rower so he is not afraid of death, sinking nor drowning. Brother Rajmund has learned not to be confounded in dangers and to be humble.


Philosophical and theological heritage


Rajmund Kupareo’s essays on aesthetics are clearly permeated with the Dominican charisma, inspired by the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. None of the Croatian literary critiques before him had given so much attention to St. Thomas’s (and the general Christian) belief that no being is without value. How many possibilities there are in an unstereotyped interpretation of “classified” works, i.e. in searching for the spiritual beyond the “dark truths” of Andrić, Brecht, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Krleža, Marinković, Matoš, Meštrović, Selimović, Ujević and Vida!

Rajmund Kupareo immortalized some of his Dominican bretheren by making them the main characters of his stories. He found some of his inspiration in the atmosphere, architecture and ancient, religious patina of the priories where he lived. Kupareo recorded the exchange of his ideas and experiences with theologian Yves-Marie Cardinal Congar (1904-1995) in a story titled Ekleziolog (Ecclesiologist).

Kupareo’s love for truth led him to realize that every literary work, notwithstanding its development and even if only subconsciously, attempts to perfect the unperfect world. There is no rejection on principle nor superficial didacticism.

In his poem titled Spoznaja (The Insight, 1944), Kupareo had best expressed that the apophatic theology and the consciousness of being were able only to touch the First Truth (and the transcendental in general) without comprehending it. All our talk about God is just stammering. Man’s intellectual effort and will-power are not sufficient; it is impossible to live without faith. This was his favourite poem, by his own admission:


“You will find yourself once your heart reclines

Into the arms of sadness that freezes the soul.

Know that pale candles only by shedding tears

Shed light on themselves!

Do not regret then that your thought is silent,

For the unrests have roiled in it since ever.

Only the heart, the heart eternally divining

Is yours… yours alone!”

 

Original verses say:

“Naći ćeš sebe kad ti srce klone

U naručaj sjete koja dušu zebe.

Znaj da blijede svijeće tek kad suze rone

Osvjetljuju sebe!

Tada nemoj žalit’ što ti mis’o šuti,

Jer u njoj oduvijek nemiri se roje,

Tek srce, srce koje vječno sluti,

Ono je tvoje… samo tvoje!”


As one of the essential ideas of his aesthetics, he often repeated that Art was an entirely human phenomenon. “The supernatural (transcendental), as such, does not enter art. The mysteries/sacraments, the revealed truths, as such cannot be the contents of works of art. A Christian artist presents the symbols of these mysteries in his works, but those symbols do not go beyond the boundaries of human fantasy. It would otherwise be about dogmatic labels, such as a triangle for the Most Holy Trinity… This can enter catechesis, but not art”.[6] This viewpoint explains his approach and attitude in numerous poetical works which had a rather liturgical conception.

The traditional Dominican adoration of the Holy Name of Jesus inspired him to write:


“[…] We are all awkward plagiarists of the inexhaustible content

of Thy name (Some more, some less).

We are all thieves, for we all undeservedly have Thy name

written in our souls.

Yet in this is our perfectness and our passport to Heaven found.

Those who had stolen more of Thee,

saved themselves more,

oh, Jesus!” (Ime Isusovo, The Name of Jesus, 1937).


Through the regular observance of common prayers (liturgy of the hours celebrated daily in choir, reciting the psalms), Kupareo had entered the world of the Hebrew psalms. He sought to think over in his heart the words of psalms coming from his lips. So, he adopted their form as his own means of expression and succeeded in enriching the old Biblical psalms with new, modern aspects. Thanking the Lord for His gifts, he prayed for the blessing of a productive and fulfilled life:


“Praised be, for the joy of life Thou have endowed me with

And for the secret of rejoicing Thou have revealed to me […]

I only beg Thou not to let me slip from your hands

For Thy beauty is irreplaceable.” (Psalam djeteta koje je našlo sreću, 1938).


Deeply affected by the tragedy of his people after World War II and by communist persecutions of conscience and religion freedom, whereas inspired by the psalmists of the Old Testament (being near to them and still independent), Rajmund Kupareo grieved over Croatian sorrows while sitting by strange rivers and strange seas. In Sedam hrvatskih pokorničkih psalama (Seven Croatian Penitential Psalms) he gave psalmistic, ceremonial expression to the anguish of the contemporary political refugees. Touched by a verse “Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion” (Ps 102:14), he contemplates:


“Our days are shoved away in an eternal waiting, *

we are doomed to watch.

Mornings do not bring freshness to our steps, *

nights do not lull our hands.

Concerns had broken out on our vertex, *

snow is in our hair.

Our back is bent under the whip of time, *

years are weighing on our shoulders.

We are stumbling *

because our eyes are looking into the distance.

They wrapped our soul by fear, *

we are buried alive.

They have burned our love with a vengeance, *

they are afraid of its ashes.

 

Thou shall, O Lord, scatter these ashes over our fields *

over our extinguished hearths,

so they would bloom *

and be renewed.

For we have nothing but these ashes of love:*

nothing but hope.” (Psalm V, 1948).


The structure of a psalm follows the parallelism of thoughts and feelings: the second line repeats the meaning of the first one with the similar conception i.e. image, and vice versa. In the middle of the verse a pause is to be observed. Sometimes the repeating of a line at the end of a stanza reinforces the intensity of feeling (gratitude, pleading…). So, driven by a fervent prayer: “Let Thy good Spirit lead me into the land of uprightness” (Ps 143:12), Brother Rajmund praises:


“The Lord had measured our heart, *

 on the balance of His hands He had weighted our pain:

Anguish outbalanced the malice of tyrants, *

and patience the power of oppressors.

We are a swollen river: *

do not wonder should we overflow the floodgates of the mind!

We are unfastened lambs: *

do not frown should we leap the fences of the heart!” (Psalm VII, 1948).


Iva Čuvalo notes: “I was always fascinated by the fact that Kupareo was not only a poet, but also a true prophet. He unshakably, steadfastly and firmly believed in the freedom of his people and at the end of his days he had seen that freedom achieved. He not only draw extensively on biblical templates in his expression, but actually embodied in himself the spirit of the Old Testament prophets through whom God had spoken to his people.”

This is the everlasting sign of Bro. Rajmund Kupareo in international axiology, Chilean aesthetics, Croatian literature and the Dominican Order, as well as in our hearts. His fingers touch the strings of values and the keys of harmonies. His heart listens to the whispering sea by the Adriatic shore. Following the footsteps of Aquinas, his spirit contemplates beauty and the Beautiful One. Rajmund Kupareo truly is a light-sign on a crossroad.


Review of Poetry


In her analysis of Kupareo poetry Prof. Ana Diklić highlights:

 “Božićni pjesmokrug (Christmas Poetic Cycle) brings poems of harmonious atmosphere, an ecstasy of wonder at the miracle of Jesus’ birth, or of serene and joyful reverence. Confessing his Christianity, Kupareo does not yield to the temptation of rhetoric, protected from it by the authenticity of his emotions and the personal atmosphere, detailed pictures of the stable and of Christmas Eve. Images of Christmas move in the range from a family idyll, yearning for lost home, the homeland, a time loved and lost, to cries for help and the salvation of his people, questions about the essence of Christianity, humility, holiness and the search for hope.

Korizmene elegije (Lenten Elegies) are poems in which existential questions about the meaning of Christ’s and human suffering prevail. Lenten thoughts and emotions blend with moments from the poet’s life and age. Lament of the Croatian Jeremiah, from 1947, suggestively testifies to the state of the spirit in post-war Croatia. It expresses the culmination of the poet’s pain at the crucified soul of the Croatian people, whose traditional values were being forcibly eradicated.

Uskrsni slavopoji (Easter Doxologies) vary the Easter mood from the personal and psychological to the premonition of national resurrection, drawing a parallel between Christ’s Passion and Resurrection and the suffering of the Croats throughout history. Avoiding the trap of saccharine optimism and patriotic pathos, in those poems Kupareo fights for the original glory of hope.

The fourth thematic cycle is Pjesme o Isusu (Poems about Jesus). Jesus is a constant collocutor in Kupareo’s poems, the only One who can show the way out of existential anxiety and give a meaning to suffering through Love and fining one’s place in relation to eternity.

Marijanski hvalospjevi (Marian Hymns) vary apocryphal motifs about the Virgin through the personal experience of her presence. Feelings of harmony between nature and human prayers prevail. These are poems in harmonious and melodious verse.

In Blagoslovi (Blessings) the poet expresses his unity with the world, blessing it, but these verses also reveal unease and tears soothed by the sweetness of surrendering to God. Many detailed images of nature make them alive and recognizable.

Terrâ marique (By Sea and Land) mostly focuses on nature, the picturesque, basic theme always in melodious accord with human and Divine presence.

Domoljubna lirika (Patriotic Poetry) is unobtrusive and sincere, without pathos and rhetoric, the motif of the homeland, patriotism and yearning for his country the most frequent motif in all his poetry.

Poems called Carmina intima (Intimate Songs) might just as well have been called Autoportret srca (Self-portrait of the Heart), after one of the poems. They vary from a general experience of the inconstancy of human life to individual moments of unrest, loneliness, unease, pain, attitude towards his birthplace. This is the poetry of quiet drama, without cries and convulsions, which finds its resolution, reconciliation and meaning in God. The constant note of these poems is the warm personal experience of God.

Portreti i sjećanja (Portraits and Memories) simply, sincerely and warmly record past images and people, radiating admiration for people and for the phenomenon of life. The poet’s yearning and sadness are counterbalanced by the consistency of faith. We might say that the cycle is synthesized in Zbogom vremenu (Goodbye to Time), in which he overcomes a feverish desire to hold onto the transitory by perceiving the eternal as all-encompassing consciousness. Radiating nostalgia for the past, at the same time he gives meaning to life and transience as eternal permanence or as rebirth in the spiritual.

The cycle Iz moje pjesmohrane (From My Poetic Archive) is mostly in an impressionistic mood. There is emphasis on parallelism between pictures from nature and the poet’s thoughts and feelings of melancholy, transience, the impossibility to attain the greatest values in life, yearning and agitation. Kupareo also writes about the problem of artistic creativity, particularly in writing poetry, demanding the unity of thought and feeling with words. Confronted by the chaos of modern world, the loss of the spiritual or the “oblivion of Being”, in his programmatic Molitva za povratak riječi (Prayer for the Return of the Word), he prays for the gift, the mercy of rediscovering the word, and the word is the spirit, logos, the origin, Being itself. It is the word that gives life and substance to the highest values: peace, justice, love and freedom. Thus expressing the meaning of the poetic word, of poetry, he reconciles the poet and the religious, monastic within himself.

The last cycle, Moj mali psaltir (My Little Psalter), contains poems in the form of psalms. The Psalter combines the mystic and elevated experience of God with simplicity and intimate communication. Strong and impressive images express psychological and meditative experiences of life and prayers. These verses are the pinnacle of Kupareo’s poetry. He also expresses the complexity of his patriotism in psalter form, praying for the mercy of overcoming feelings of impotence, stupidity, fear and hatred through hope and love, thus reaching the peaks of the Croatian patriotic poetry.

Kupareo’s poetry does not excel in formal perfection as it does in inner melody of verse, the variety of rhythm and the wealth of language, whose beauty greatly surpasses its failings.

Behind the wealth of Kupareo’s motifs and the variety of poetic pulsation it is easy to see its basic direction and focus. It is turned to God, the transcendental, the meaning, and the poet’s utter faith gives it its simplicity. The spiritual is unthinkable without order, restraint and discipline, and the spiritual strength of these verses, in the wealth of motifs, fullness of feelings, melody and rich language, reflect the discipline of pain, yearning and torment, which find counterbalance and meaning in faith. This is not poetry for rending and destruction, but of creation on the trail of the Word.

Kupareo’s fine style places him in the best tradition of Croatian interwar poetry, but his verses also easily find their place among the peaks of contemporary poetry.

The retrospective collection of Kupareo’s poetry Svjetloznak (Lightsign) is a valuable contribution to the Croatian cultural scene because it also contains an exhaustive presentation of his life and work and a comprehensive bibliography”.[7]

Kupareo is one of the leading representatives of a host of poets of Catholics inspiration in Croatian literature: Gjuro Arnold (1853-1941), Fr. Jovan Hranilović (1855-1924), Marin Sabić (1860-1923), Velimir Deželić st. (1864-1941), Silvije Strahimir Kranjčević (1865-1908), Msgr. Ivan Evanđelist Šarić (1871-1960), Fr. Milan Pavelić SJ (1878-1939), Rev. Nedjeljko Subotić (1882-1950), Rev. Izidor Poljak (1883-1924), Ljubomir Maraković (1887-1959), Petar Grgec (1890-1962), Josip Andrić (1894-1967), Cvite Škarpa (1898-1968), Ilija Jakovljević (1898-1948), Antun  Branko Šimić (1898-1925), Branko Storov (1899-1945), Sida Košutić (1902-1965), Đuro Sudeta (1903-1927), Ivo Horvat (1903-1994), Nikola Šop (1904-1982), Ton Smerdel (1904-1970), Gabrijel Cvitan (1904-1945), Bro. Gašpar Bujas (1906-1963), August Đarmati (1906-1981), Ivo Lendić (1908-1982), Mira Preisler (1908-1982), don Jeronim Korner (1909-1976), Srećko Karaman (1909-1964), Vinko Nikolić (1912-1997), Ante Jakšić (1912-1987), Branko Klarić (1912-1945), Bro. Janko Bubalo (1913-1997), Bro Serafin Mičić (1913-2002), Viktor Vida (1913-1960), Rev. Aleksa Kokić (1913-1940), Bro. Lucijan Kordić (1914-1993), Vinko Kos (1914-1945),  Jakša Ercegović (1918-1945) and Luka Brajnović (1919-2001).


Poetic samples


Here are some Kupareo’s reflections, translated by Baldo Šoljan and supervised by Maja Oršić Magdić.


“The Sword


It has always attracted men

who in the name of justice condemned the innocents,

the old and corrupt soothsayer:

The sword.

Nowadays in a museum it hangs

corroded by rust,

for it was drenched

in my people’s tears. (Mač, 1948)


Peace


The suppressed whirl

of conscious and subconscious wishes.

The contours of space

and the records of time fade.

The last spark burst

from a flint heart.

 

On the cracked roof

sparrows celebrate

their wedding feast,

and we, the end of fishing.

Peace. (Mir, 1973)


Silence


The insuppressible sound

of suppressed souls.

A pearl in the heart of a shell

for which divers long

in vain.

History in the chest of hope

which readers

will once discover.

 

Silence.

The bent bow

of a distressed heart. (Muk, 1979)”


And here are several of his poems translated by Iva Čuvalo.


On Christmas Day


Fall, snows, shrouds of the miserable!

Fall, snow-flakes, tears of the wretched!

In your splendour silently shall descend

The Poorest of the poor.

Fall, fall and cover tonight

the crevices of thoughts!

Fall, fall and conceal tonight

the charred hearts!

For He is tender and barefoot,

and our land is harsh.

Fall, oh silent snows,

fall quietly and without a sway!

I will hide myself in a snowflake,

like a holy thief,

to land on His face

like a white flower.

And then I’ll disappear in the warmth of His face

like a tear of joy. (Na Božić, 1945.)


Holy Monday


Thou are the master of the treasury.

Judas miscalculated:

he accepted too little,

just like we do when we exchange

Thee for smiles. (Veliki ponedjeljak, 1976.)


Holy Tuesday


Our conscience was not alarmed

while Thou were passing by,

tied and spitted on.

The rooster had better success:

he made Peter cry. (Veliki utorak, 1976.)


Holy Wednesday


Nobody wants to see Thy fall,

let alone follow Thee.

The last Cyrene was late,

and the Veronicas stayed home.

Thus Thou walk lonely through centuries.

Thou art still persistently trailed only

by judges and executioners. (Velika srijeda, 1976.)


Maundy Thursday


At Thy table take turns

those hungry for goodness.

A place remains empty:

for the dealer of conscience.

It shall stay empty forever. (Veliki četvrtak, 1976.)


Good Friday


Thy final scream still shakes

the walls of human mind

where conscience has cocooned.

Thou keep silent

and wait

for the butterfly to appear. (Veliki petak, 1976.)


Holy Saturday


In the emptiness of Thy grave

we have found the purpose of survival.

Hence at our past

Angel keeps his vigil. (Velika subota, 1976.)


The Last Supper


Your supper

shall last forever,

and every ours

can be the last one. (Posljednja večera, 1971.)


Easter of 1975


Stay with us!

Futile is any endeavour

to rescue the spring

from passions of the summer,

lustfully plucking

the smiles of vineyards.

 

Stay with us!

Not only this day is fading,

hope is waning

crucified

between love and faith. (Uskrs 1975.)


[1] Out of these collections, his stories are to be found at: Akvinac, III (1935.) 4, 27-29; Crkva u malom, (1986) 14, 19-20; 17, 11-12; (1995) 42, 13-15; Danica 1989, 115-117; Danica 1990, 113-116; Danica 1991, 113-116; Danica 1992, 118-122; Danica 1993, 136-137; Danica 1994, 126-127; Danica 1995, 121-122; Danica 1996, 132-133; Danica 1997, 132-136; Forum, (1994.) 9-10, 668-697; Gospina krunica, (1941) 9, 243-244; 10, 279-280; 11, 307-308; 12, 331-332. 336-337. 339-341; (1942.) 5, 132-133; (1943.) 5-6, 135-136; (1945.) 1-3, 13; (1946.) 1-2, 5-7; Hrvatska straža, IX (1937.) 158, 8; Kalendar Gospine krunice 1934, 71-76; 1935, 94-98; 1937, 114-116; 1938, 95-96; 1939, 91-93; Kalendar Srca Isusova i Marijina 1945, 105-107; Kolo, (1993) 9-10, 865-869; Sunčani vinograd: zbornik, 1943, 205-209.

[2] At the end of the Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday Matins Services (Tenebrae) there is a custom of striking benches with sticks and thus reminding the believers of the scene in Pilate’s court, when Jesus was whipped by Roman soldiers. Therefore, barabban is an ancient practice in Dalmatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina – throbbing with birches or olive branches and rattling rattles during Holy Week as a sign of a symbolic protest against the condemnation of Christ, an onomatopeic illustrating the earthquake on Calvary reminding us of our sins whipping Christ. Barabban is also the name for the rattle, the wooden contraption used for making the noise, during Holy Week, when the bells stop and, figuratively, it stands for noise and rumble.

[3] Yet, eight studies in Croatian still remain out of those 4 books. They are found at: Hrvatska revija, 3/1962, 241-243, 4/1963, 531-543; 3-4/1991, 399-403; 1/1992, 151-153; 2-3/1993, 231-234; Marulić, 1/1986, 6-11; 4/1992, 420-423 and Stepinac mu je ime, II, 361-365. For essays in Spanish cf. Testigo de la Belleza.

[4] Rajmund Kupareo, Stvaralačka mašta, Marulić, 23 (1990) 2, p. 177.

[5] Kalendar Gospine krunice 1937., Zagreb, 1936, p. 114-116.

[6] Rajmund Kupareo, Bilješke o odnosu teologije i umjetnosti, Marulić (Zagreb), 27 (1994.) 4, p. 587.

[7] Ana Diklić, Pjesnik moderne tradicije, Kolo (Zagreb), 152 (1994) 9-10, p. 942-944; cf. Ana Diklić, Lightsign, The Bridge : Literary Magazine (Zagreb), No. 9-10, 1995, p. 153-154.

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