Unknown poets: Daily lament by Tin Ujevic

How hard it is not to be strong,

How hard it is to be alone,

And to be old, yet to be young!

And to be weak, and powerless,

Alone, with no one anywhere,

Dissatisfied, and desperate.

And trudge bleak highways endlessly,

And to be trampled in the mud,

With no star shining in the sky.

Without your star of destiny

To play its twinklings on your crib

With rainbows and false prophecies.

— Oh God, oh God, remember all

The glittering fair promises

With which you have afflicted me.

Oh God, oh God, remember all

The great loves, the great victories,

The wreaths of laurel and the gifts.

And know you have a son who walks

The weary valleys of the world

Among sharp thorns, and rocks and stones,

Through unkindness and unconcern,

With his feet bloodied under him,

And with his heart an open wound.

His bones are full of weariness,

His soul is ill at ease and sad,

And he’s neglected and alone,

And sisterless, and brotherless,

and fatherless, and motherless,

With no one dear, and no close friend,

And he has no-one anywhere

Except thorn twigs to pierce his heart

And fire blazing from his palms.

Lonely and utterly alone

Under the hemmed in vault of blue,

On dark horizons of high seas.

Whom can he tell his troubles to

When no-one’s there to hear his call,

not even brother wanderers.

Oh God, you sear your burning word

Too hugely through this narrow throat

And throttle it inside my cry.

And utterance is a burning stake,

Though I must yell it out, I must,

Or, like a kindled log, burn out.

Just let me be a bonfire on

A hill, just one breath in the fire,

If not a scream hurled from the roofs.

Oh God, let it be over with,

This miserable wandering

Under a vault as deaf as stone.

Because I crave a powerful word,

Because I crave an answering voice,

Someone to love, or holy death.

For bitter is the wormwood wreath

And deadly dark the poison cup,

So burn me, blazing summer noon.

For I am sick of being weak,

And sick of being all alone

(seeing I could be hale and strong)

And seeing that I could be loved),

But I am sick, sickest of all

To be so old, yet still be young!

About the poem

“Daily Lament” is an existential songs which questions human destiny. The lyrical subject, which is expressed in the first person singular is burdened with numerous questions of loneliness, the transience of life.

The song also talks about his need for love, a sense of calm and a desire to belong to someone or something.

The main motives that confirm the idea of the song are loneliness, weakness, alienation, fatigue.

The poem begins with anthological verses: ” How hard it is not to be strong,

How hard it is to be alone,

And to be old, yet to be young!”

These verses, which make up the first stanza are also a hint of the content of the poem.

The paradox contained in the verse “to be old yet to be young” can be interpreted as the poet’s motivation for writing the poem, because it speaks of the feeling of loss and waste of his youth.

About the poet

Poet Tin Ujević was known for his quirky lifestyle

This is an anecdote from Tin’s life, which is still retold by cafe owners throughout the former Yugoslavia.

One evening, Tin Ujevic came to a coffee shop in a posh Zagreb cafe. He was casually dressed, in clean, but slightly worn clothes. The waiter who approached him to take the order noticed this and refused to serve him, saying that Ujevic was not appropriately dressed for such an “elegant” place.

Without a word, the poet got up and left the tavern, but it was not long before he reappeared this time wearing his best suit.

He sat down at the same table and ordered coffee again.

This time, with a big, flattering smile, the waiter brought the order.

The poet took the coffee, opened the pocket of his jacket and poured the coffee into his pocket.

“You have served my suit, not a man,” he told to the stunned waiter, got up and left the bar.

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