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Mišo Marić: Once upon a Bridge

... Never was Paris with Eiffel Tower in love with the sky, or Rome with domes of St. Peter’s Church where the sky finds time to relax on, or London with Big Ben ticking the time we are left with and warns of the evanescence, or there was ever a town that was identified and recognized after a human edifice as was Mostar after a bridge that was somehow called The Old. And it acted more youthfully and looked more freshly than all the other bridges of Mostar. Kin-wise it was their brother, age-wise it could have been their grand-grand-grandfather. All the younger brothers had been executed before it, at doorstep, before eyes of those who loved it most. It showed them out with sorrow, great justice, but petty consolation that they rest together in the water of the Neretva. So they will stay together forever in the arms of the only one they ever loved in their lives. The bridges are the most faithful lovers under the sky.

Well, the bridges are built that a man would not have to wonder around. To make a shortcut, to make it closer to go wherever he wants to. With the bridges, the shores shake hands and become relatives. The bridges are petrified souls of dead rainbows, over water. No edifice, of human mind and soul has that much soul as a bridge does. And none is loyal to a man or homeland as a bridge. Of all edifices, the bridges bear most human properties in them. A bridge is a closest human relative. And again, there was no bridge alike this one of Mostar, executed. The bridges are very often similar to each other. And this one is alike only to itself or the crescent reflecting in the water of the Neretva, when a night is still, and the moonlight mild. All the bridges are connected to the shores with bloody concrete or iron roots and they grow from them. Only the Old Bridge of Mostar sprung out and lived forever in a couplet:

“This bridge was built as an arch of a rainbow.
Dear God, is there anything alike in the world?”

That was written on the first stone laid in the foundations in 1557. It was brought in his head and heart by Hajrudin, a bridge builder by profession, and a poet by soul. He bore it all the way from home Persia. He crossed pathless lands and bottomless seas; he galled his feet, got wet in rivers. And just there, between rocky slopes of Hum hill and Velež Mountain, above a restless and mysterious river he had never seen before, he decided to build his dream. That’s the reason why the bridge is not made out of carved limestone, and rhapsodic over the Neretva. More a poem than a bridge...

... Passengers and guests through centuries will admire it. In the past century, travel writers, Bozur and Somet, and a century before, on his way to the East, a Frenchman Poullet stopped and wrote:

“Its construction is more daring and wider than Rialto Bridge in Venice, although the bridge of Venice is considered a true miracle.”

The author of these lines bears two bridges from the anthology of the bridges on his soul, and a Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andrić would dip his pen into ink dark water of the nighttime Neretva and take a literary bow...


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  • Author: Mišo Marić, poet, journalist, publicist (Bosanski Petrovac, 1942)
  • Title: Once upon a Bridge (fragment), London, 1993
  • Source: Magazine Most (Časopis Most), nr. 91 (2), XI-XII 1995
  • Publisher: Association of writers of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, Mostar

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  • 2004-11-06

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