Book Reviews

Jovica Tasevski-Eternijan: Syntax of the Light

Syntax of the Light by Jovica Tasevski-Eternijan.
St. Clement of Ohrid, National and University Library:Skopje. 2011. Pages 170.

JovicaTasevski-Eternijan is a well-known Macedonian poet, literary critic and essayist. Being born in 1976 in Skopje has achieved internationally because of his poetic genius. He has published six poetry collections and two books of criticism and essays. Also, he has edited two anthologies of poetry. He has been credited by winning ‘The Enchanting Poet Award’ for excellent contribution in poetry writing, given by The Enchanting Verses Literary Review. His poetry has appeared in many literary magazines; it is represented in a number of anthologies and has been translated into several languages.
His new published book is of selected poems translated into English, named “Syntax of the Light”. It has been published as Volume 91 in capital project "Macedonian literature" - anthological edition in 130 volumes of Macedonian literature, written since 9th century, until the most prominent contemporary Macedonian authors. The book, with other volumes of the edition, in India can be found in the National library of India and in Delhi Public Library, and also in USA can be found in the libraries of Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Wisconsin and Indiana University.
Syntax of the Light is his book of selected poems. It is divided into 9 sections: Attempts for a vertical (22 poems), The Abyss Embraces Us (22 poems), Eroded Night (26 poems), God’s Bosom Friend (4 poems), From the Above (14 poems), Everything (13 poems), Gate (10 poems), Ascension of the Translucent (1 poem), Bio-bibliographic note on the author (Last Section).
The very first poem in the collection, titled ‘It Shines’, is highly mystical in tone. Poet has begins the poem with citation of the Gospel by John, a motto which is dedicated to Almighty God. This mystical tone is being carried on in the next poem, ‘Attempts for a Vertical’ and so on.
‘Ενγραμμα’ (Engram) is a poem which seems to be mythological in nature. In this poem, poet repeats the name of the title after every stanza like some kind of incantation or refrain. In poem, ‘Alleluia’, he has taken the extract from the Bible/Old Testament. ‘Boundary’ is poem dealing about death and ‘Carve Quartz’ is a poem written on Hedonistic perspectives. It is a sensuous poem written with motifs from Greek mythology. In ‘A Crumble. A Key’, the poet is addressing Jesus Christ, praying to teach him to walk on the right path, using citation from T. S. Eliot’s ‘Ash Wednesday’: ‘Teach us to worry and not to worry / Teach us to stay still’. [Variation of verses: Teach us to care and not to care / Teach us to sit still.]
So in this way he is asking God and showing his deep faith in him. In Part II, he prays:
Christ comes nearer
When the dark crumbs are perishing
And to the dark curved lines
The Heavenly Flour summons them exile.
There are some other mystical poems like: ‘Hey, Mister Sadducee!’, ‘Swinging the Vigil Lamps’. ‘Self Portrait’ seems to be a Wordsworthian poem describing about nature and at the same time it seems to be of symbolic nature. Some other poems which are symbolic in tone are – ‘Here we are’, ‘The Rain arrived’, ‘Dark’, ‘Feast’, ‘Breath of Air’, ‘Doom’, ‘Loneliness’, ‘In Sorrow’, ‘Honeycomb’, ‘Towards the forest of the bravery’, ‘From across’, ‘Spleen’, ‘Expecting’ etc.
‘Lull Shining Lull’ is a poem describing about the situation of Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth. Poet has taken as motto some lines from Holy gospel according to Mathieu (2:16). Almost all his poems in this section are mystical in tone. His poetry can be compared with the poetry of John Milton and of T. S. Eliot, as they are very mystical and philosophical in tone.
He has used various natural as well as metaphysical symbols, metaphors  and images, like golden plate, barbarian keys, fire dandelion, dark skulls, lyre, black angels, green ladder, rotten basket, greedy raven, icy clock black anchor, green anchor, white raven, carrion sapphires, string crystals, bloody grease, rot covers, mirror, heavy strings, dark piles, dark gnaw, harp, turgid glass, shell, pendulum, insipid land, keyholes, needles, sharp golden thread, white yards, tree etc.
He has dedicated some of the poems keeping in mind some people like ‘The Wedding of heaven and hell’ to William Blake, ‘How to interpret this rhythm’ to Arthur Schopenhauer and ‘Sharp Point’ to his father.
His poetry establishes intertextual relations with poetry of many great poets in explicit and implicit way (citation, allusion etc.). His poems have some similar characteristics as the works of a number of English poets, like John Milton for its mystical attitude, John Donne for the use of metaphysical images, T. S. Eliot for mythical method. J. T. Eternijan’s poetry is also close to other English poets, like William Blake, William Butler Yeats, Dylan Thomas etc.
He is a proto-manifest of the integralistic poetry current where he promotes himself as a poet of the integral poetry. According to Sande Stojchevski, ‘Infinity and Poetry are the words which are the cornerstones of Eternijan and his poetic world. His poetry has been compared with Heidegger - as handwriting of being.
Rilke defines - “poetry is experience and sometimes one needs extensive experience to be able to write only a single verse”. This can be found in Eternijan’s poetry, and we also see the pure existential experience transformed into a spiritual one. He is considered as a spirit of modern poetry, who sees by hearing.
He is an ambitious poet and this is reflected in his first poetry collection, ‘Something Can be Heard’ which he published at the age of 19 in 1995. He has also used surrealistic expressions in it. His poetry is highly spiritual and mythical in nature. They are completely dissolved in the poet’s imagination. He has used some impressive transcendental images in his poetry, so it can be defined as metaphysical poetry. Danilo Kocevski believes that the contrasts in Eternijan’s poetry are the counterpoint, which is the dominant principle of Eternijan’s poetry procedure. In his poetry, one find variations and we can find variations overflowing from one book of poems into the next. Hence we can call him a poet of variations. As we read his poetry; his verses become more and more dense and less and less translucent.
Renowned Macedonian poet and literary critic, Eftim Kletnikov, comments about his poetry as: “Poetry with an open circle, poetry with its own identity and place in contemporary Macedonian poetry. A poetry of a poet who is yet to ascend and descend the unrevealed secrets of the language and poetry, in life and the world which springs from it”. In his preface to the selected poems of JovicaTasevski-Eternijan, Syntax of the Light, he wrote that this author's poetry “demand from the reader not only logic, but also intuitive efforts to unlock it, since Eternijan obviously uses Mallarme's principle: not to denominate, but to suggest the name, which deepens the secret as the primary object of poetry and strengthens the metaphysical quality of the poem”.
His approach towards writing poetry is very creative, intricate, intellectual and spiritual. One finds depth and completeness in his poetry which is almost perishing in today’s world. His book of selected poems is a real gift to all the readers of literature in English. 


More by :  Dr. Shamenaz Sheikh

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