by Sylvia Choleva; photography by Daniel Lekov

Part 2 of Vagabond's series on a project where each embassy of the 27 member-states of the EU and Turkey in Sofia adopts a wall in the city centre and adorns it with a poem

Belgium poetry wall.jpg


Biochim Bank, 6 Vitosha Blvd

Odilon-Jean Périer was a Belgian-French poet born in Brussels on 9 March 1901. His real name was Jean Périer, but he used the pseudonym "Odilon" to avoid confusion with a then-popular actor with the same name. The son of a banker and grandson of Albert Thys, secretary to the Belgian King Leopold II, Périer studied law. A poet of the everyday, he also wrote a novel The Passage of Angels in 1926 and a play, The Indifferent, in 1925. He died in Brussels on 22 February 1928 just shy of his 27th birthday. The fountain on Brussel's Avenue Louise is named in his honour.


Les rues et les verres vides
La grande fraîcheur des mains
Rien de cassé.
Rien de sali.
Rien d'inhumain.

Cordialement bonjour, bonsoir
Je suis paresseux tu vois
En bonne santé

A la santé du paysage
L'amateur de rues aérés
Si vous voulez que je vous aie
Ouvres des mains immaculees

Je ne suis pas désaltéré.



Streets and glasses empty
Soothing coolness of hands
Nothing broken
nor soiled
All gentlemanly

Goodday Goodnight from my heart deeply
You see I am lazy
Also healthy

Good health to the landscape
If you're fond of airy streets
And it's my love you seek
Unblemished heads I need

Unquenched remains my thirst.

Born in 1929, Hugo Maurice Julien Claus was an exceptionally talented Belgian author, writing primarily in Flemish. A literary experimenter, his work includes poetry, novels, dramas, short stories, screenplays, essays and translations. His anarchist spirit and attacks on bourgeois attitudes and religious bigotry provoked controversy. Claus also worked as a theatre and film director – his films scandalised the public with their eroticism and candour. Claus became famous in 1983 with his post-modern novel The Sorrow of Belgium. For decades he was the dominant figure in Belgian post-war literature and was nominated for the Nobel Prize. Suffering from Alzheimer's disease, he chose to end his life by euthanasia on 19 March 2008.


Hoe het weer was in het land zonder jou?
Eerst daalde er nevel
over de betonnen bergen.

Toen hing de zon als mist
over het paarlemoeren zand.

Toen bewoog de lucht
en werd klam als oksels.

En alom steeg de geur
van de grote dieren die niet bestaan,

tenzij in het geruis van je oor,
in het geritsel van je haar.

Zo was het weer daar zonder jou.
Je bent de luchtdruk en de dauw
en sneeuw in mijn schedel.


What the weather was like in the country without you?
First fog descended
over the concrete mountains.

Then the sun hung like mist
over the mother-of-pearl sand.

Then the air moved and became as clammy
as your armpits.
Sheet lightning made my teeth clench.

And everywhere the smell rose
of huge animals that do not exist

except in the rushing of your ears,
in the rustling of your hair.

So was the weather there without you.
You were the air pressure and the dew
And the snow in my skull.



Sofia City Gallery, 1 Gurko St

Luxembourg poetry wall

Raymond Schaack was born in 1936 in Luxembourg. He is the author of poetry, novels, short stories and memoirs. He writes concise poetry and prose that is natural, free of artificial techniques, and between reality and fantasy. He is also the author of mystery novels. He writes in Luxembourgish, French and German. His most recent book of poems, a collection of haiku entitled The Stone's Breathing, appeared in 2006.


Am donkle Laf
vun Cello a Bassgeien
ramouert rau den Hierscht

Verspillt ewéi e Päiperlek
voll Freed a frëschem Fréijorsgléck
erzielen d'Bléiser vun den neie Grieser

Dem Suminer seng gréng Mécke souren
an d'Hämelmais zu Haf all schierpsen
wa liicht de Bou duerch d'Karfeld
vun de Geie fiert

Wäit iwwert d'Land voll Musek a Gesank
street lues de Wanter d'Schnéiflacke
vun den Nouteblieder


Autumn is rumbling roughly
in the dark foliage
of the cello and the double bass

As playfully as butterflies
full of joy and fresh spring bliss
the wind players tell about the new grass

The green flies of summer are buzzing
and throngs of crickets all start chirping
when the bow lightly moves through the
cornfield of the violins

Winter slowly scatters the snowflakes
from the sheets of music across the land
full of melody and song



Slovak Embassy, 9 Yanko Sakazov Blvd

Slovakia poetry wall

Ján Smrek has posthumously become the most widely read and translated Slovak poet. Born on 16 December 1898 in Zemianske Lieskove, he studied at the teachers' institute in Modra and at the theological seminary in Bratislava. He worked as an editor in Martin, Prague and Bratislava, most notably for the magazine Elan.

After 1948 Smrek became a freelance writer and was frequently subject to political and civil repression and had difficulties publishing. In a 1950 essay "Instead of a Discussion with Official Poets," Smrek bravely made the following prediction about writers who cooperated with the Communist regime: "They put you in textbooks so children will study you without loving you." He is the author of the poetry collections Sentenced to Eternal Thirst (1922), Galloping Days (1925), Divine Knots (1929), Only Eyes (1933), The Poet and the Woman (1934), Grain (1934), The Feast (1944), The Well (1945), The Image of the World (1958), Strings (1963), Don't Disturb My Circles (1965), Night, Love and Poetry (1987) and Against the Night (1993), as well as the memoir Poetry, My Love (1968), the two–volume collection of essays We Are a Living Nation (1999) and two poetry collections for children.

He also translated poetry from Hungarian, French and Russian. He died on 8 December 1982. An international poetry festival has been named in his honour.

... so stromov more listov naprsalo.
Mal by som dvihat ich a pisat' na ne,
co v srdci ostalo mi nedopovedane

Listy, 1935

... a lot of trees shed their leaves
perhaps I should pick them up and write on them
what stayed unspoken in my heart.

Leaves, 1935



Vasil Levski National Stadium, 38 Evlogi Georgiev Blvd

Germany poetry wall

Friedrich von Schiller
A classic German poet, playwright and historian, Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805) grew up in Marbach in a lower middle-class family and entered a military academy in order to secure a livelihood. There he secretly studied philosophy – Kant's works had a profound and long-lasting impact on his views – and produced his first literary efforts. His early works are tied to the literary movement Sturm und Drang, or Storm and Stress. The premiere of his first play The Robbers in Mannheim caused a sensation, yet following the performance Schiller was arrested and forbidden from writing. He went into exile and lived under an assumed name on the estate of an admirer, where he wrote the play Intrigue and Love. Schiller studied ancient Greek literature and concluded that Hellenistic culture was humanity's most perfect achievement. With the help of Goethe, he became a professor of history and philosophy in Jena. After his health declined, Schiller moved to Weimar where Goethe lived. After several productive years – he wrote the tragedy Maria Stuart in 1800 and founded the Weimar Theatre together with Goethe – he died of tuberculosis at the age of 45. Schiller is the author of the famous "Ode to Joy," which Ludwig van Beethoven set to music in his Ninth Symphony. Today the piece serves as the EU's official hymn. Literary and cultural prizes have been established in the poet's name.

Der Mensch ist nur da ganz Mensch, wo er spielt

Man is only completely a man when he plays.

Read more Wall-to-Wall poems here (Part 1), here (Part 3), here (Part 4), and here (Part 5).


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