Poems, Image and Voice: Rawley Grau

Found Poem on Wikipedia
(From “String Quartets (Schumann)”)

The three quartets of Opus 41
are his only string quartets.
He composed them after studying
the quartets of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
He had sketched some ideas for quartets
a few years before 1842
but abandoned them.

In February of that year he again
considered writing quartets.
Because of depression he was unable
to compose for a time.

Eventually, on June 4th,
he started work on the first quartet.
He finished the third on July 22nd.
They were first performed on September 13th
as a present for Clara
on her 23rd birthday.

December 22, 2020

Rawley Grau reads… Found Poem

The Prešeren Monument in Ljubljana, erected in 1905, with sculptures by Ivan Zajec, designed by Max Fabiani. Photograph by Rawley Grau © 2020

France Prešeren (1800–1849)


I dreamed we were in holy paradise,
And we were happy there past comprehending,
And that short period of life had ended
Where we were kept apart by time and place.

With Laura, your elder sister, you perused
An almanac in which the past was printed,
And in sweet discourse you and she contended
As to which of you enjoyed the better praise.

And there, upon the angelic scales of Michael,
Petrarch and I laid our respective sonnets –
My pan flew up as if it were a trifle!

Your virtues we then added to the contents –
Yours to my poems, hers to his – and my rival’s
Large pan and mine were now in correspondence.


Translated from the Slovene by Rawley Grau

Rawley Grau reads France Preseren in English: “i dreamed we were in holy paradise,”

The Original:

Sanjálo se mi je, de v svétim ráji

bilà sva sréčna tàm brez zapopádka:

bilà je prèč življênja dôba krátka,

kjer me od têbe lóč’jo čási, kráji.

Sedéla z Lávro tí si sêstra mláji,

pred váma je bilà dní préjšnih prátka,

bilà med váma govoríca sládka,

kakó slovéla ktéra je od váji.

In tàm na téhtnico svétga Mihéla

s Petrárkam djála svà sonéte svôje,

visôko môja skléd’ca je zletéla.

Perdjála čédnosti sva njé in tvôje

vsák svôjim pésmam, in skudéla

njegà bilà ni niž’ od skléd’ce môje. 


Rawley Grau reads “Sanjálo se mi je, de v svétim ráji” in Slovenian:

The Slovenian poet France Prešeren (pronounced Fran-TSEH Pre-SHER-en) was born in 1800 in the village of Vrba, in the Duchy of Carniola, today in northwestern Slovenia. He attended school in Ljubljana, after which he studied law at the University of Vienna. There he began writing poetry in his native Slovenian language. In 1828, he returned to Ljubljana, where he worked in a law firm. He began publishing poetry regularly in literary journals and other publications in the 1830s. Although he wrote in a variety of poetic forms, his preferred genre was the sonnet, and one of his finest works was the Wreath of Sonnets, which he dedicated to his unrequited love, Julija Primic. His sonnets are in many ways modeled on Petrarch’s, and, as is made explicit in the poem “I dreamed I was in holy paradise…,” Julija is given a role equivalent to Petrarch’s Laura. In the 1840s, Prešeren began drinking heavily and writing less and less, although he did prepare a collection of his works, Poems (Poezije), which appeared in 1847. He died in 1849 of liver disease. Today he is honored as Slovenia’s greatest poet, with comparisons made to Pushkin in Russia and Mickiewicz in Poland; streets and squares are named after him throughout the country, and a stanza from his patriotic poem A Toast (Zdravljica, 1844) provides the words to Slovenia’s national anthem.

foto (c) Dušana Šarotarja

Originally from Baltimore and a former resident of Toronto, Leningrad, and Nashville, Rawley Grau has lived in Ljubljana, Slovenia, since 2001. He is mainly a translator and sometimes a poet. From Slovene, he has translated novels by Dušan Šarotar, Mojca Kumerdej, Gabriela Babnik, and others; a play by Ivan Cankar; and poetry by Miljana Cunta, Miklavž Komelj, Tomaž Šalamun, and others. Two of his translations, both novels by Šarotar, were shortlisted for the Oxford Weidenfeld Prize, and five of his translations were longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. From Russian, he translated and co-edited a selection of poems and letters by the 19th-century poet Yevgeny Baratynsky, A Science Not for the Earth, which received the AATSEEL Prize for Best Scholarly Translation. In 2021, he was awarded the Lavrin Diploma for excellence in translation by the Association of Slovene Literary Translators. He is currently co-translating, with Christina E. Kramer, a collection of poems by the Macedonian writer Aco Šopov.

Author Photo of Rawley Grau by Dušan Šarotar. @DSarotar is well-known in Slovenia as both a novelist and a photographer. His most recent novels are Billiards at the Hotel Dobray (Biljard v Dobrayu, 2007), trans. into English by Rawley Grau, (Istros Books, 2019), and Panorama (2014), published in English translation by Rawley Grau, (Istros Books, 2016), which incorporates photography as an integral part of the work.

Art: Umbrage Temple, a detail from a visual poem by Robert Frede Kenter (c) 2022. Robert Frede Kenter is the Publisher/EIC of Ice Floe Press, a writer, visual artist, editor; author of EDEN, 2021, w/ work forthcoming in The Book of Penteract, Penteract Press, 2022.

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