Since his legendary entrance into the poetic arena with Pesmi štirih (The Poems of the Four, 1953), the formidable lyricism of Kajetan Kovič, one of the nation’s great masters of classical form, grew essential in the Slovene artistic and intellectual space. Indeed, no more than a handful of Slovene poets managed to conceive this many words imprinting themselves into the collective consciousness, continuing to delight readers of many generations. Perhaps, in addition to the profoundly ethical undercurrent of the verses, their stylistic coherence and discipline can be credited with the stature of Kajetan in the eyes of his peers.
Fellow poet and scholar Boris A. Novak described him thus: “the fatefulness of memory, existential notions of belatedness and excommunication from society and nature alike, these frame the existential constellation of Kovič’s world-perception, the chamber whence his poetical voice erupts”. Throughout decades, each of Kovič’s poetic gestures, each of his steps, preserved the freshness of an original yet fundamental artistic gesture.
“The poetic world of Kovič is composed of seemingly simple everyday things, objects, of inconspicuous creatures, animals. Within this rudimentary sphere the poet converses with memories and images of times gone by, addressing the already-past, threading landscapes evoking exotic feelings in the European man. Across the line of reflection, his world is full of profound realizations, strung to the “nothingness” of a pure, aesthetically sharpened imagination, realizations born in the quiet apprehension-filled hours of poetic loneliness, distress and silence, when the spiritual view is flooded by dreadful visions and scenes of mutilated existence. In the hour of anguish, hope emerges from sheer perseverance, allowing the poetic subject to burst into new, unknown languages”, writes Denis Poniž in the afterword to the book.
Edited by: Andrej Blatnik
Afterword: Denis Poniž