Darija Žilić, review of “Lighthouse” by Ksenija Premur

Ksenija Premurs poetry is intimate, and critics state that the features of her poetry are clarity, acuity, creation of clear images that are intertwined in poetic reflection, and that the poems are erotic and reflective. But the collection of poems Lighthouse presents poems that are focused more on metaphysical themes than intimacy and the inner world of the lyrical heroine. One could even say that the fundamental dichotomy is the one that questions the relationship between time and eternity, heavenly and earthly. It is no coincidence that the lighthouse is mentioned as a symbol of verticality, which is a sort of a guidepost, but also a link between heaven and earth. Premur purifies her expression more and more, removing superfluous images, turning to philosophical expressions so her poems are like small poetic debates about, for example, the relationship between eternity and mortality, about the immortality of the soul. After reading the manuscript, it can be noticed that the main subject of the book is actually Time. The poem Heavenly Clock talks about that. The earthly and heavenly clocks are mentioned as fundamental oppositions: tick tock / tick tock / goes the earthly clock / hour of death echoes / and on the heavenly clock / skates slide into the perpetuum mobile. Eternity is inaccessible to man, it is only sung about, and the sign of the passage of time shows that mortality is inevitable, and that there is a constant awareness of death, memento mori. The poem On the Green Pastures of Eternity also questions the relationship between eternity and time: time is abolished because only in this way is it possible to explain the meeting of Kepler, Newton and Giordano Bruno. They are immortal because of their discoveries, they analyze the relationship between time and eternity, space and time (an important issue in aesthetics). Eternity is existence, both timelessness and immortality”, But in fact it is only an eternal search, that is, an eternal search for the primordial beginning”. The poem The Invention of Eternity also speaks about eternity. It is a poem in which the utopia of the land of Miki-TikiPikilatija is created in a ludistic-infantilist way, in which eternity is created, in which there is no death. Using the philosophical expressions (referring to Heraclitus) that the author breaks into verses, an excellent poem is created in which physics, philosophy, metaphor and mythology are synthesized in a great way: /When they once / in the trap of ivory / in the land of MikiTikiPikilatija / the most excellent aficionados of the law of nature / understood the trick of the whirligig and of the tern / that everything bends, wraps, covers / under the exact navigational flow / of the planets around the sun / they invented the eternity.” In the poem Tiki paints paintings eternity is “just another turn of the whirligig and the tern”, just another picture, and fot that matter, a picture of longing. Desire is a frequent topos of Ksenija Premurs poetry. The longing for aesthetic pleasure, for the touch of a loved one, the longing for being whole and for the cosmos. But on the other hand, there is the image of death, the leaking clock (as if it were an ekphrasis of Dalis images). Everything seems like an unrelenting, natural sequence of events, and it is as if the very existence of the heavenly clock is softening and slowing down the end we are expecting. And it’s as if some celestial protective dome overhangs over our existence, so it protects it while time flies, leaks, slides… The poem Crickets is extremely euphonic, the rhythm is created by numerous alliterations and assonances. And it’s as if in that song of crickets that doesn’t stop, there is some heavenly music, a song of creation, a cosmic melody that speaks of creation. And again we find images of joy, hymns of immortality, celebration of life over nothingness. The song of crickets connects and synthesizes the heavenly and the sea, and the mentions of ambrosia and the nectar evokes mythological images of immortal gods and a time that exists outside of this earthly time, a holy time. These songs repeat, they are exhaustive: crickets sing their songs / obliquely, vertically and horizontally / as long as the sound of the mandolin lasts / until the trumpet player announces the end of the song…”. Ksenija Premurs poems seem like they were written on the path of knowledge, the search for the sacred, for the sun and the light. In them we find echoes of G. Brunos philosophy, and biblical images, impressionism, but also spirituality. The author uses hyperbolic expressions, which further emphasize the spirituality of the journey: and barefoot you will head to the Holy City / and its holiness, and even further and further, / across the sea and ocean, over sand and stone ( poem Eternal Flame of the Ode to Joy). A very important relation in the poem Lighthouse is the one that questions the relationship between the sun, the moon and the earth. The great poem The Magic of the Moon on Earth speaks about the moon and the earth, and it is about the poeticization of tides, which as natural phenomena become an incentive to question the disappearance of worlds, the relationship between the world as we know it and the world of demigods, the relationship of holy and profane. Ksenija Premurs poetry actually wants to be a part of a melody that speaks of fealty and harmony, of order and perfection, symmetry, harmony of the soul and the body. In the poem The Game of Billiards the game of billiards is metaphorically played, the billiard ball is linked to the circling of the Earth. By the permeation of two planes, denotative and connotative, from a seemingly simple comparison, a poeticization of theorems from physics related to the study of the Universe and the Earth emerges. The ludisttic moment (the game of billiards) is associated with scientific discovery, so astronomer Giordano Bruno is mentioned in the context of a billiard player. Not just him, but Kepler and Newton also. The focus is primarily on rhetorical questions, specifically on the question of the Earths orbit: the globe / like a billiard ball / when will it stop circling?. The theme of eternity and time is also a constant of this poetry collection. In the poem Eternity of this day temporality is abolished, but by a paradox, by mentioning time in eternity (and this day / if we can count days in eternity), a new relationship is introduced. The day itself can be marked by the eternal and be exempt from the passage of time, from transience. The poem Heavenly Oval talks about one such day in which everything would be connected. This poem seems to have been created in one stroke, and through the initial verses that are repeated, it is hymnically written and an ode to the Mediterranean, the sea, the oceans, the coastal town, and the day when the sky and the sea are connected, which resembles the beginning of cosmogony, the beginning of a new enchantment of the world: “oh when will that day dawn, / the day when the sea and the sky, / meet on the horizon / and begin a new, as yet unheard song / of eternal creation.” This poem is extremely colorful, green and blue is mentioned, and we find many images from the marine and ocean imagery (olives, seagulls, Arabic, Indian, Japanese, Mediterranean wine, sailors at sea, canzons…). And again as a leitmotif: the image of the great clockwork that determines the days and nights, navigates the life of sailors on the far sea. The poem Colors of Earth and Sky is extremely colorful, expressionist, and in all these images there is a metaphor of God as a painter: God is a great painter of the seasons, / parallels and meridians / north and south poles”. Both God as a heavenly painter and earthly painters who also combine colors as they know and can are creators of new worlds, and the great metaphor of paradise of creation speaks of the power of creation, which is identified with bliss. The game of creation is eternal, inherent in both the human and the divine, immanent to the world that is always reborn. One of the best poems in the book Today is not a day for writing perhaps refers mostly to the authors previous opus, especially the collection of poems Shards of Chinese Porcelain. Instead of abstraction or expressionist images, we find the lyrical heroine questioning and poetizing her own restlessness, anxiety, and at the same time the external and internal coincide: outside there are thunder, fights, and in the soul dreaming and longing for the missing: I would say, God is my witness, / I would say that I still remember you / and I dream and long and imagine”. It is this melancholy, the reminder of beautiful moments, the touch, the love that shows that it is a matter of time passing, metaphorically presented as a clock on his hand counting down happy moments, those moments that go away and disappear. The opposition of the West and the East is often present in Ksenija Premurs poetry, so, for example, the Mediterranean and the Sea of ​​Japan are connected by images, symbols, and strong poetic syncretism. We find again motifs that are already present in the authors poetry, such as the labyrinth or unsent love letters. Zagreb in the Morning is a poem that evokes the atmosphere from the book Shards of Chinese Porcelain, a book of poems from 2010. Namely, Ksenija Premur is an author who also writes strong love poetry, in which the longing for the Other is poetized, regretting the lost love. In the mentioned poem, at the beginning, the accumulation of works evokes the atmosphere of the city, the hustle and bustle, everything is in motion, the author frantically records all the sensations, so the atmosphere of cacophony is created, and then silence. The city is experienced as a living being, it receives signs of health and disease; it lives and falls asleep peacefully”. But at the same time, she emphasizes the importance of the passage of time that inevitably slips, which will erase the two of them, lovers: “but time is running out for you as well as for me / and thats all that will be left / obituary at the front door of the apartment building / and the end”. The lovers are separated and lonely, but the life of the city does not end, the city lives on, while the love is broken. The rose appears as a symbol of love, and the withered rose is a sign of extinguished or unfulfilled love. And it is no coincidence that the author dedicates a poem to it: to a rose that grows, withers, and then erupts again with spring. The motif of an unsent letter reappears, which is a metaphor for vagueness, an end that takes place without itself and brings the inevitable disintegration of love. But the rose remains eternal, a red rose that grows over and over again. Lighthouse is a poem that praises courage and freedom. Lighthouse is not just a signpost at sea, it is a sign to sailors who are ready to tear the dark depths of the sea. Sailors can be understood as researchers, but also all those who with their knowledge dispel dogmas, open new worlds, scientists, astronomers: “they give them a sign / that miraculous sign / of sailing ships and boats, and so defying the red ships / which are not sailing anywhere / and a sigh of relief does not await them / when on the horizon / passing by the lighthouse / they see the mainland. Lighthouses are the ones that show directions, because how easy it is to get lost / and throw all the cargo into the sea. It should be noted that Ksenija Premur subtly depicts images of the Mediterranean, the sea, which is also a constant topos of her poetry. In the book Madrigal for Summer, the author poetizes her love affair with the sea, which she calls the most tender and faithful lover. The Lighthouse sublimates meditation and metaphysics, physics and poetics, eroticism and urbanity, and it is especially important that it is great poetry about freedom, anti-dogmatic, anti-scholastic poetics that celebrates love and knowledge.

Darija Žilić