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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 99 | volume  | November-December, 2014



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 99November-December, 2014
Essays

Black Lamb and Gray Falcon

A Journey through Yugoslavia


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p. 1
Rebecca West

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Black Lamb and Gray Falcon
       A Journey through Yugoslavia

Penguin Books, New York 1994
      
    Skopje I
    This is the supreme moment of Easter, when the priests lift up the embroidered cloth from the table, take it out into the open air, and walk round the church three times at the head of the congregation, all carrying their lighted tapers and singing a hymn proclaiming that Christ has risen. Constantine and I had walked in this procession when we had come to Skopje the year before, and I had wanted to do it again. It is the very consummation of the picturesque, with the flowerlike yellow brightness of the tapers, the coldness of the starlight and moonlight, the glittering crosses and vestments of the priests, the dark people leaning from the lit windows of the houses in the square, which seem themselves to waver with the pulse of the advancing and receding lights and shadows. But there is here more than that, there is true Easter, the recognition of the difference between winter and summer, between cold and heat, between darkness and light, between death and life, between minus and plus. Something important which passes unnoticed because it is continually experienced is felt again in its real importance. But now we could not join the procession, for we had been at the iconostasis end of the church when it started, and it had accomplished its three circuits before we reached the door. When the Metropolitan who was at the head of the priests halted in the doorway to make his sermon, we were in the antechamber, called the narthex, which runs across the front of any Byzantine church, which here was specially large and secular, because the architects were accustomed to the great porches of mosques, where Moslems are accustomed to sit and gossip and settle business and talk politics.
      
    I was extremely frightened as we stood there, for I thought it possible that a number of people, packed together and constantly stirring in their discomfort and all holding lighted tapers, might set themselves on fire. But I forgot my alarm, because I was standing opposite a peasant woman sitting on a window ledge who was the very essence of Macedonia, who was exactly what I had come back to see. She was the age that all Macedonian women seem to become as soon as they cease






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