First Christmas exiled

by | Dec 22, 2021 | Memories, Poetry

Christmas is coming. A time full of poetry.

My parents spent 12 years forcefully separated because of the persecution against Catholics by the communists in Eastern Europe. When they reunited in October 1956 in exile, they had each other and their daughter Elica who had finally gotten to know their father. But little else.

Christmas day arrived when the Child God brought the gifts to the children. Then, on Christmas Eve, the little family gathered around the poorly decorated tree and the figurines that transported them to where they were so miserably but surrounded by the greatest affection Jesus was born.

Small pieces of paper hung from the fir branches. They were the best gifts Luka, my father, could give: a poem for each one.

There he poured all his love towards those two people for whom he had waited so long and to whom he could offer so little.

In his essay How is a poem born? written in Our Time in 1975, it says that

When art achieves its highest degree, it surpasses the materiality of words, sounds, volumes, and colors. The artist understands that this means that materializing his idea or his inspiration is the only possibility of expressing his soul.

And so it is, there he overturned what his soul carried inside. The recipients of his gifts felt lucky. But, especially since it was their first Christmas together.
Those little poems are lost.

Here I am going to try to translate a poem by Luka written that same year in Croatian that speaks of joy:

Cry of happiness

Banish sadness!

Joy is a divine breath that intoxicates and gives strength.

It’s like the spring sun over the field,

where almonds blooms, and wheat dawns.

It is the meaning of the altar,

and the flame in the bonfire of life.

The smile of a holy death,

and the laugh of the excited child

It is the Beauty and the


It is everything in life!

Without blemish that disfigures the face,

ecstasy in the morning and fire in the gloom.

pure as a maiden’s tear,

and like the thought of the saint in eternity.


Peace in the soul, happiness in the face!

Live the peace that thinks and creates:

the happiness that springs from the heart

like a high cataract

that pours from on high in a silvery rain,

in which each drop carries the sun within.

For its light and shine

You cannot see the darkness nor the lost footsteps.

Everything is clean and cheerful!

The poem is by Luka Brajnović. Translation of Olga Brajnović

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


  1. Mister Bump UK

    Beautiful poem. Have a good christmas, Olga.

    • Olga Brajnović

      Thank you. Merry Christmas to you !


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