REVIEW WRITTEN BY WRITER AND CRITIQUE DARIJA ŽILIĆ

VINEYARDS AT DAWN
A new collection of poems by the poetess Ksenija Premur, „Vineyards at Dawn“, comprises several longer poems: Vineyards, Crack of Dawn, Dawn, Sunrise, Daybreak, Moirai and Earth and Heaven Merry at Dawn. The collection is a continuation of author's previous work „The Lighthouse“. Basic dichotomy in the work is the relationship between the time and the eternity, between heavenly and earthly. Just like in “The Lighthouse”, the author continues to write in a very economical language now fraught with, not so much philosophemes, but profound imagery, light metaphysics in which the relationship between the heaven and the earth is the fundamental axis around which the author creates rows of cycles one reads in a single breath. The very titles of poems clearly indicate author’s inspiration – the dawn, the daybreak, the sunrise. Images of vineyards and grapes are not random - they are symbolically represented as places where the heaven and the earth meet. In the poem “Vineyards” there is a personification – grapes are chanting “a song / of the sky and the earth / and the sea in between”. The same poem mentions the sea located in-between, while later there is a highlight “where only / cerulean skies and blue seas / rule”. It is exactly the image of vineyards “and strive from the earth / towards the sky” that evoke the symbol of verticality, just as the lighthouse was used in her previous collection. The state is depicted in philosophical manner of “between being and not-being”. In the poem “Crack of Dawn” we can find an opposition of a dawn and an evening, the beginning and the end of a day. Premur provides impressive imagery, synaesthetic experience of awakening of the nature, blossoming, twirling winds, rendered in frantic pace trying to emulate the magic of the beginning, as if this were cosmogony. The author perceives the movement of seasons: “and ruffle the surface / of the deep blue sea / everything is decorated / in richly elaborated necklace / the sky blossomed in peonies”. On the other hand, a crack of dawn is the time when crickets take a rest after “they stayed awake throughout the night”. In these hymn-like lines the author manages to create a magnificent description of everything waking up and intertwining, the moon and the trees, the sea and the seagull, before the town gets completely awakened. The light overpowers the darkness in a Manichaean sort of way, “a new day” has embraced and cradled around everything, repeating itself until a new dawn: “everything comes to a day / at a crack of dawn / at a sunrise / at a daybreak / at a dawn / in the light of a new day”. The subject poem does not seem to be connected with any place at first, however later it mentions Euphrasian Basilica. The temple is situated in the town of Poreč, in Istria (Croatia) and its parts become integral part of the poem. This is mostly notable in references to early Christian mosaics and renderings of Jesus Christ. Through epithets of sacrality, divine light, tranquillity, a particular atmosphere of the sublime and solemnity is created. Here we also find another motif to be dealt with later to a bigger extent, and it is a theme of wedding. At dawn “a great wedding party of the earth and sky” is taking place and they will be crowned with a “magnificent ring”. Here the author uses a hyperbola to represent the passing of time, which is particularly interesting (“of all world clocks / ticking away / our lives”). There is a special bond between the high sun and the sunset, the ebb and the flow, the birth and the death. The latter is the foundation, the ultimate law we must all obey, the law of movement of time that goes “round and round”. At the crack of dawn a being is born thus metaphorically symbolising the start of a human life. The poem “Sunrise” is an epitome of epiphany, a description of the creation of the world in a day, a magnificent metonymy. In a hymn-like elation everything has been encompassed – flowers, seas, all beings “from a tiniest ant / to a lion / the king of all animals / and brisk otter / making dams and ponds / in a blossoming countryside / twigs trees mud / no word suffices / to describe the whole world / in a single breath / at a sunrise”. The author reintroduces synaesthesia in this description; there is a merger of pictures, sounds (birds chirping), scents, colours (flowers); there is an opposition of darkness (“of dark deep seas”) and light (“sun ... breaks the shackles of the night”). As I have already mentioned in the introduction, Ksenija Premur also writes powerful love poetry where she poeticizes the yearning for the loved one and the sorrow for the lost love. In this collection we can also find poems telling us about the memories of love; the author immortalizes sad moments when “yet another wonder / vanishes in the past”. A lover is metaphorically represented as a “sailor of my heart”; other hyperbolic images are introduced again (“sun explosion”, “as if you wander / all over the oceans; there is also author’s recurring motif of mazes, in particular Greek labyrinths: “for it is dawn / and in long steps / the Minotaur strides / waiting for me in our maze / with a dawn of a new day / blossoming“. Another captivating element is the chorus – „you are worth / inventing” – repeating in several places. This is a detachment of the heroine describing a post festum of love gone by, as well as the irony reflecting the unsteadiness and disappointment: “you are drawn to another journey / alas, they are so long”. The poem “Daybreak” portrays “eternal love of the earth and the sky”. Interestingly enough the author is inspired by the Bible, especially by the Song of Songs. The cycle of joining and separating lovers has been poetized again in a personified image, wedding and splitting, the end of one and the beginning of another daybreak. Again, just like in “The Lighthouse”, there are allusions of Japan, a land of the rising sun, and Hiroshima disaster, a tough historical legacy, has also been incorporated. It is exactly through the imagery of the progress and “a man is diligently / building up a new world” that the land is being rebuilt into a land of “magical scents”. The good conquers the evil, “a new song is born / a new daybreak”. Regardless the eternal motion, no day is the same and this is exactly what the author wants to point out. She wants to emphasize the power of a man to change, to create a new world, like a diligent worker, which is pretty Nietzschean. The poem “Moirai” is a reminder that Greek mythology has always been author’s source of inspiration. They have been incorporated as the theme of “Vineyards at Dawn” - life and death, time and eternity – a fabric of life woven by the three Fates. The question whether human beings are born to die and turn into dust, or are meant to life forever is still open. There is no unique comprehension – “who would know / in Moirai’s weaving / of life and death”. The last poem in the collection “Heaven and Earth Marry at Dawn” is the finale. Premur uses jargon related to drama. She lists expressions such as choir, tragedy, introduction, in order to dramatically poeticize the marriage of heaven and earth, wed by the god himself, with pagan gods also being incorporated. Through gradation the author is depicting the elation of the festive occasion, the awakening of the nature at a crack of dawn. The wedding is a symbol of creation, but also an ode to humanity as the drive of creation for humanity harbours the divine sparkle, and their works are proof of human power and force of creation, symbolized by “Botticelli’s Madonnas” as mentioned in the poem. In the end Ksenija Premur has managed to devote, in these un-times, a true ode to a man incorporating both earthly and divine dimensions. Thus with this collection the author continues her poetic expression and keeps supporting her humanistic ideals and aesthetic beauty.