/ 3 September 2019

The Week of the Festival: Struga, Macedonia

The Poet's Muse

Koco Racin's Mystical Love Correspondence to the ‘Divine Woman with a Heart of Stone’

The founder of contemporary Macedonian poetry, Kosta Solev Racin (Veles, December 22, 1908 - Lopushnik, June 13, 1943), is best known for his collection of poems White Dawns. In addition to his prose, he has written many important works on the subject of history, philosophy and literary criticism. However, his Anthology of Pain, which contains love letters dedicated to his platonic and immortal unrequited love, a young girl by the name of Rahilka, remains a total mystery.

These verses, passionately written in his blood, are shrieks of pain, serving as a fine example of Heathcliff's and Hamlet's syndrome of suffering.

In the twenties, Northern Macedonia was an integral part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In those years, the rigid system enslaved the artist’s creative libido. At such a time, a poet arrived. One who, with no fear of the system, wrote about Macedonian national issues. This segment of his work and the significance of his collection, White Dawn, has been studied and analysed countless times.

But perhaps the most fascinating and mystical moment in the creative opus of the ‘shy, scowling, young poet’ is his correspondence and love verses of his immortal and unrequited love to one woman. There are various analyses of his opus, Anthology of Pain, in which his love poetry is sublimated. But the mystery remains: Did the author - truly taken by the passion of youth, seeking love with tireless vigour from the blonde beauty Rahilka--feel an unstoppable desire, which left a deep wound in his heart and soul, to lyrically express his anthological pain, or he did he simply need a muse?

The threads of these verses weave a fascinating stamp in Macedonian literature, considering the era during which Racin wrote. Through these poems, one can see his morbid yet hyperlucid state of mind, which truly depicts the fatalistic and obscure - pure surrealism. Even more frightening is the fact that the author signed most of the correspondence in his blood.

‘The traces of my blood will bloom like the lily under the kiss of April,

Even in them all thoughts are lame,

And even if you laugh at this’. 

Watching her walk through the streets of Veles every day, dreaming of her, overwhelmed by the hopelessness of his own pain, with verses marching through his mind to the sounds of cries and pain, he began writing down his longings on paper and sending them to her home on Franz Depere Street No.3 in the form of cards, always signed with ‘Immortal Love’.

‘I went down in the veins of my blood this morning and threw out the last atom of my pain from there. So now I give it to you, without a hint, for I know: That my soul will find no shelter anywhere, when it is whipped out by yours...’

Despite the fact that Rahilka did not respond to his love whispers melted into verses, the cards still arrived in her mailbox, long after she’d become someone else's wife. Rahilka, nicknamed Raca, never responded to the poet who loved her, and who, in his verses, called her ‘you, heart of stone’... The woman whose voice he’d never heard, never seen up close, never met or exchanged a single word with...

‘I take from the heart the atom of Pain and bestow upon you to make it into Glory...’

History shows that, in despair, Kosta Solev took her name as a pseudonym and renamed himself Koco Racin, although there are unconfirmed reports that his fellow citizens have been named him after her. However, in one of his verses the author notes:

‘I take your name as mine, and that's why I grant you immortality, a condensed sigh after you. Anthology of pain...and my portrait if you ask...drop of blood from my body and soul - you already future name - bind me forever with you...Forgive me or curse - all the same And I love, forgive and forget...Only one regret: I didn't hear the meaning through the sound of your words...or at least their trace with ink...’

At the time of the correspondence, Raca was only 17 years old, while he was 20. She once said: ‘Racin had been sending me cards, even two years after I got married. My husband Nicola and everyone in our house knew about it’.

Even though she never returned a word, she kept the cards as a ‘sacred relic’. According to her, the most beautiful love songs in the world can be read in this ‘Bible’.

All the cards were in a black and white technique called the ‘Russian Gallery’. Only one card was in colour, this one sent from Split. Initially, Raca tore up the cards that she received from Postman Tode, but later began religiously collecting them. There were precisely 34 cards.

‘I will open the veins before your passion: My blood will satisfy you. Did I not see your eyes happy, the flaming rapture of your marble mouths...’

To the great misfortune of truth and justice, her fourteen-year-old son - due to his youthful naivety - took the cards from their home and handed them to his Macedonian-language professor, Gjorgi Milosev, later known as Mr. Mr. Gavril, who gifted them to the gymnasium, thus forever separating these precious correspondences from Rahilka. In later years, the letters ware transferred to MANU - Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Raca claimed that, out of 34 cards, MANU received only 27. The whereabouts of the other seven cards is yet another mystery. This was an example of the unscrupulous, shameless and despotic alienation of something so intimate, so personal, and given to one woman by a man.

By Ivana Tasev, Macedonian journalist and PR manager.

Edited by Ana Jovkovska