Forbidden poems in the Bulgarian literature

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“To the Russian Soldiers” – Ivan Vazov

The sobering of the memory of Russia as a brotherly liberator began with the entry of Romanian and Russian troops into Dobrudja and the bombing of Varna at the height of the First World War. These events, tragic for the Bulgarian state, aroused the anger of the Patriarch of Bulgarian literature because of the aggressive conquest of ancestral Bulgarian lands. As an avowed Russophile who wrote outstanding works extolling the exploits of Russian soldiers in the Russo-Turkish War of Liberation in his poem “Здравствуйте bratushki,” Vazov became disillusioned, seeing Russia at that moment in light of its imperialist interests:

O Russians, O Slav brothers,
why are you here? Why are you
come to the Balkan fields
unloved, uninvited guests?

In spite of the spilled Bulgarian blood and the destruction caused, Vazov urges the Rus brothers to remember the sincere love and gratitude that the Bulgarians harbour for the Russian people because of the liberation won with their help. After these dramatic events, society became polarized into Russophiles and Russophobes, and after the imposition of the Russophile doctrine, these poems were deeply suppressed and censored.

“Kancho Putkoderov” – unknown author

This is a poem praising the notorious Bulgarian h**. It was written by an unknown popular author, but for a long time it was attributed to the writer Penyo Penev. This rather cynical work is divided into 6 chapters, with the lyrical hero performing epic feats with his super-gifted instrument in the first five. Everywhere he appears he undoubtedly leaves a vivid mark behind him thanks to his divine gift. Kancho’s fame spread with lightning speed even beyond the borders of our homeland. But in the last chapter, his life’s journey comes to an abrupt end because of a conspiracy and betrayal by his friends. His ridiculous death does not obscure the memory of his heroic moments, and even when laid in a coffin his phallus still sticks up, just like that of the ancient Greek god Hermes.

“CURVIADA” – folklore, unknown author

Some believe the poem to be by Elin Pelin, others that it was composed from folklore. The Courvoyage tells the story of a young peasant girl who, from an early age, manages to feel the intoxicating delight of carnal love. The protagonist Tsvetana is the daughter of a poor peasant who is engaged in cattle breeding. From a young age, she remains a half-orphan due to the untimely death of her mother. The adolescent girl starts helping her poor father and becomes a sheep herder. The trade does not suit her very well, for inside her the desire to meet the man who will quench her longings begins to boil. Having once tasted the sweetness of the forbidden fruit, her life abruptly turns into a string of amorous mishaps, each time, as she searches for her stallion, her lust intensifies. The story of this voluptuous beauty is as entertaining as it is instructive. The lesson to be learned from reading this poem is that every man has his natural urges, and as the great Oscar Wilde said, “The only way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it” (a quote from A Picture of Dorian Gray), but we must never do so sacrificing our dignity and Christian virtues. It’s not sinful to make love, but it’s not sinful to share it with everyone and at any cost as the protagonist does, finally feeling remorseful and pained for her excessive sexual foolishness. It is too unlikely that this work will one day be featured in literature textbooks. We are left with the consolation that it has, after all, been preserved and transmitted in folklore.

Penyo Penev – vulgar lyrics

When life is hard or when we are overwhelmed by unbearable adversities, the poet advises us in his epic vulgar poem “When the Violets Bloom”:

When the violets bloom
and things go badly,
f** the mother of the others
and try to do the best for yourself

F** the mother of the others
and find relief in yourself.
And if you find no relief in yourself,
f** your mother and yourself!

Another popular work attributed to this author is the obscene: “Poem for the B**t”. In it, the poet expresses his occult fascination and maniacal attraction to a woman’s lovely buttocks:

O female b**t!
Get fat and bloom!
Subdue male’s mind
And lead him to seduction!

“Hot peppers” – Radoy Ralin

… So, from the days of the slave haiduks
we have eaten many hot peppers.
That’s why our tongue is sharp…
And it’s hard for the one who challenge us

Come on, buddies! Eat hot peppers!
We’ve had enough of this…
No hot peppers for seed!
Nothing… we’ll make it through!

He who acts honestly does not live easily.
Who comes out right, does not come out healthy.
Who doesn’t sell his soul, does not become wealthy.

The collection of playful epigrams “Hot Peppers” by Radoy Ralin threw the then party functionaries into turmoil as the first edition published in 1968 somehow unnoticed went on sale even without much success. The report of the committee to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union says the following about the publication of the book:

“It contains artistically and ideologically untenable generalizations and gross slanders against our socialist reality, against the policy of the Bulgarian Communist Party.”

In the period up to 1983, when “Hot Peppers” was reprinted, the book became the most apocryphal work produced under communism. To the preface of the second edition, Rumyana Uzunova writes:

“I do not remember which wise person had uttered this maxim, which also applies in full force to books like “Hot Peppers”. And they, despite the ban, pass from hand to hand, are copied and reproduced by the modern Paisievs, a symbol of the undying national freedom-loving.”

Kiril Hristov – erotic poetry

Kiril Hristov is the second most significant poet after Vazov. His poems are not banned, but scandalize society with their erotic content. In his works the poet always feels oppressed, longing to awaken to a new life and proclaiming his new philosophy of carnal vitality. He completely disavows all the social and popular wisdom of his time. Sexual drive overshadows everything else. It is not love but a whirling passion, a sexual outburst that knows no bounds and no restraint. Woman in his poetry is only alluring, voluptuous flesh, and love is devoid of any spiritual element.

Women and wine! Wine and women! – an expression of early hedonism and bohemianism in our poetry.

Mad youth! – the hero denies the established moral scruples of society, he is seething with the desire for full surrender to carnal love expressed in erotic songs, and mad youth, daring to break the chains of monotonous and boring everyday life.

“Black Eyes” – strikes with its demonic and naked passion.

“Anthem” – the emptiness of the native land suffocates the poet, so he wants to part with it. He does not wish to bind himself to any social obligations, to be a slave to any morality: he wants absolute freedom for his aspirations. For him time is wasted in vanity, and the moments spent in voluptuousness are priceless.

© 2017 Radostin Yordanov

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