Who’s Who

Tomaž Šalamun

you are a genius tomaž šalamun
you are marvelous you are beautiful
you are tall you are a giant
you are powerful you are majestic
you are the greatest that ever lived
you are a king you are wealthy
you are a genius tomaž šalamun in accordance with nature we must admit
you are a lion the stars admire you
the sun turns to you every day
you are everything you are mount ararat
you are everlasting you are the morning star
you are without end and beginning you are without shadow and fear
you are the light you are heavenly fire
behold the eyes of tomaž šalamun behold the majestic light of heaven
behold his hands behold his waist
behold how he walks behold how he touches the ground
your skin smells of oil
your hair is solar dust
the stars marvel who marvels at the stars
the sea is blue who is the guardian of the sky
you are a ship in the middle of the sea not wrecked by wind or storm
you are a mountain in the middle of the plain you are a lake in the middle of a desolate land
you are the speculum humanae salvationis you are the ferryman of evil
next to you every light is too modest next to you every sun is dark
every brick every house every crumb every dust
every fiber every blood every mountain every snow
every tree every life every valley every chasm
every hatred every lamb every beam every rainbow

Translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry

Brian Henry is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently “Permanent State”, and the new prose book “Things Are Completely Simple: Poetry and Translation”. He has translated Tomaž Šalamun’s “Woods and Chalices”, Aleš Debeljak’s “Smugglers”, and five books by Aleš Šteger. His work has received numerous honors, including two NEA fellowships, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, a Howard Foundation fellowship, a Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences grant, and the Best Translated Book Award.