Black guitar

At every feast
In those early days of youth,
Our home resounded with song
Played by mustachioed Gypsies.
My father, too, swept the strings of that black guitar,
The one he had bought
With his first wages.

Do you still have that guitar, Sir?
Sir, do you still play that black guitar?
That, sir, was the greatest of all.

Years on,
When they would pass and reach out for a coin or two,
They'd ask him about the guitar.
Years on, as they stole away to the bar,
Far from their resting instruments,
Which enchanted the guests through the night.
Their women too,
As they knocked on our door,
To plead for our garments, tattered and worn,
Would ask, eyes gleaming:

Do you still have that guitar, sir?
Sir, do you still play that black guitar?
That, sir, was the greatest of all.

Once in a while, when back at my home,
I empty a few glasses,
Embaraced by the shade of our chestnut tree,
I drink with my friends,
Whose lives are still bound to that land.
Then, strings by the table,
The Gypsies would appear
Play for us,
And ask once again,
With their childish eyes and voices deep and coarse:

Do you still have that guitar, Sir?
Sir, do you still play that black guitar?
That, sir, was the greatest of all.
Indeed, the greatest of all.

(Instead of whom does the floer bloom, The Poems of Vlado Kreslin, translated by Urška Charney, Guernica Editions 2012)

Share a Light


Vlado Kreslin (29. 11. 1953)
The fact that Vlado Kreslin is currently one of the most popular singers and songwriters in Slovenia is based on the history of his successful career of over 35 years. He started as a drummer in 1970 but later he changed to rock'n roll singer. In 80s he was a frontman and songwriter for the very popular Slovene rock group Martin Krpan. In the late 80s, he was responsible for the reawakening of interest in older Slovene traditional music when he started performing and making music with a folk group of older musicians in their 80s and 90s-- the Beltinška Banda. In his musiche he combines the ethno feel of his home region of Prekmurje with the urban sounds of his band Mali Bogovi. His songs have been used as the basis for both novels and films and are performed by many Slovene and foreign artists. The way he sings and the candor of his lyrics have never left the audience unmoved and many of his songs have become Slovene evergreens.Vlado often collaborates with many young Slovene musicians as well as with foreign stars, such as Allan Taylor, R.E.M., Rade Šerbedžija, Hans Theessink, Vlatko Stefanovski, The Walkabouts, Dubliners, Mary Coughlan , Antonella Ruggiero…He opened twice for Bob Dylan, for Rory Gallagher and R.E.M. Several books of his poems have been published, and he is a member of the Slovene Writers' Association. He released 25 albums, made music for theatre and film and also acted in theatre and films. In 2009 he was invited by Yale University to be honored at a Master's Tea, and there he was awarded the honorary title of Quincey Porter Fellow.[8] His poems have been published in Poetry in Translation and Confrontation, and in 2012, Guernica Press, Toronto published his book of poems, Instead of Whom Does the Flower Bloom .

I had heard the music of Vlado Kreslin and found it marvellous, a magic fusion of so many Mitteleuropean motifs that put me in mind of everything from the films of Emir Kusturica to the novels of Bohumil Hrabal …So much great modern art and writing has risen out of the polyglot world of central Europe…I realize that Kreslin’s music is entirely of his own world, and yet enlarged that world to include anyone who wished to be a part of it.”
Richard Flanagan, Australian writer and director