Silent Shadows, Faithless Night


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If you wonder what I’ve been working on lately, here are a few images from a new project I started based on the poetry of one of my favorite authors, Dimcho Debelyanov – a Bulgarian symbolist poet, intellectual and one of the most sensitive soldiers to lose his life in World War I. Unfortunately, very little of his exquisite works has been translated into English, so I can’t fully show you the depth and sensitivity of his verses and let you judge how they inspired the images above.

In a few words, his poetic dilemmas focused on the impossibility of reconciling reality with ideals. Which, for this projects,  metaphorically speaks of the impossibility of art to transparently represent ideas. I aim to use Debelyanov’s particular metaphors in images not to evoke your despair as viewers, which many people report as the effect of his poems, but to address this dilemma. Austin actor Greg Holt modeled for it. If you are local to DFW and would like to help me out by modeling, let me know! I promise the experience won’t be depressing as the poetry suggests. Dimcho Debelyanov was an urban poet and a war poet at a time that today is considered the wake of modernity, aka early 20th century. The visual profile of an environment like that is what we tend to associate with “timeless” today – although in reality it is as historically specific as any other. We are just conditioned to feel it that way by the cultural events that came later. But in any case, this kind of environment is difficult to reproduce in Texas. So I opted for a non-urban setting that wouldn’t clash with the feel of Debelyanov’s poetry. Here is one of his favorite poems, “The Town Sleeps”. It’s your guess to read through the symbols here:

Old town sleeps in its silent shadows.
To the faithless night, a faithful son,
I wander – homeless and alone
As the rain – it drizzles, drizzles, drizzles…

Footsteps, one by trembling one
Measure the length of blackened walls
And behind me, invisible there falls
The piteous march of days long gone.

The image of the darling maid
Who once shed light upon my door
Loved and clear, haunts me once more.
Remorse – it grows and grows and grows…

She appeared – a girl – a glowing spark.
Although a flame played on her lip.
’Twas eternal beauty I yearned to sip.
I turned away her mortal gift.

Oh leave them be – days long gone by
Frozen by grief in a darkened place
But whence she sends her cry to me,
Her sad reproach: Oh why? Oh why?

Old town sleeps in its silent shadows.
To the faithless night, a faithful son
I wander – homeless and alone
As the rain – it drizzles, drizzles, drizzles…

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5 responses to “Silent Shadows, Faithless Night

  1. Very moving poetry. I can feel the loneliness of a man lost in time and place. Great art often comes from great suffering. Love your blog. Keep up the good work. I would be willing to serve as a model if we can coordinate times and places. Just let me know.

  2. Thank you, Gene! That would be really wonderful! I’ll send you an email.

  3. His tomb is also one of the most moving I’ve ever seen –
    "waiting in trance for her child to arrive"

  4. Your images are so compelling. I would love to show them here in California. Joe

  5. Pingback: Archive of Abandoned Dreams: new files | Parasol Photography

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