The Hour of Late Comprehension

Who is yet courageous and today will say: you will need to repent when you discover that you have deceived yourself and others because you were deceived and you had done wrong; you will have to regret your words and deeds as an abomination and shame? There no longer exists either a Savonarola or a John Huss today. The respectability of the science of preaching and of the ascetic ashes came to naught. Nevertheless, you shall have to repent and will continue to regret at the time when you learn and become aware of it twenty or thirty years hence. The victories of comprehension are slow and belated; and entire human life is brief and, concerning them, terrible is the fact that these realizations never come in time.

Because there exists a late wisdom, the bloody vengeance of time, when one sees through his own hollowness and his former ignorance. One must wait ten, twenty, and more years in order to be able to say: We were mistaken. We were deceived. That distant wisdom will reach us one day, before our death, to punish us for a life fraught with errors and failures.

There are the late realizations when plain words, unornamented, are powerful, and when one can see his dreams and through them himself. Those among us who survive will come to these comprehensions. They shall come to us. I do not invite them, for they are belated, and therefore sad. I would like to arrive at some earlier discoveries, comprehensions about the essence of things before the hour passes and while there is yet time. I warn you.

I refer not to any repentance, but the hour of atonement through truth will come; it must come. As the poet who cautioned his sweetheart: "One evening when you will be old, sitting close to the candle ..." the hour of truth and punishment will arrive. All will be naked, all will be obvious, but late.

It will be late. And I will not rejoice in the many consolations and revenges which we will get (a few of us, the only, the chosen ones) because it will be too late. The older generation and posterity might, uselessly, and quite in vain, say: There was a voice, a man, who at the proper time spoke the truth, but none listened to him.

Many noisemakers and offenders responsible for past injustices, for the excesses of times of immaturity shall be rebuked by the voice of conscience, by a more reasonable remembrance of times past and the hour of late comprehension — when the setting evening sun of inexorable autumns illumines the golden vineyard and the groves of copper.

Translated by Carolyn Owlett Hunter
(Contributed by Jery on Wednesday, March 16th, 2011)
See All Poetry


Also By Augustin Ujevic


Croatian Literature

Balkan Literature

European Literature