Well edited by Christopher Merrill, The Four Questions Of Melancholy is a collection of poetry containing selections from each of Tomaz Salamun's 25 works. Although images of the larger world, war, politics, and peace pervade his works, there are also images that speak to the more personal and immediate. This paper analyzes the concept of Tomaz Salamun"s poetry, attempts to deepen our understanding of the struggle endured by a Slovenian poet who does not see freedom everywhere in the streets.
The poetry of Tomaz Salamun criticizes the often-absurd universe of politicians, and legends emergent out of everyday events. Without a doubt the Leninist-Stalinist society in which Salamun is raised plays a major role in his development as a poet. During Tito"s regime in Yugoslavia, poets could be arrested and could spend a year in jail for impolite references to any number of public officials. While in other circumstances, political repression raises a feeling of revolution among artists and especially in poetry of revolt; rejection and denouncement, in much of Eastern European poetry takes on a much more rebellious, clever and even mocking tone. It is because Salamun is a free man who likes his country and likes his country free that Salamun feels the need to talk about the wrong doing during the period of oppression. In "History," a poem that brilliantly satirizes the moral self-importance of Stalinism, the poet shows the bars of the prison that Slovenia lives under: .
"Tomas Salamun is a monster. .
Tomas Salamun is a sphere rushing through the air. .
He lies down in twilight, he swims in twilight." (Salamun 77).
Against the cruel, often humorless background of Tito"s Communism, "high spirits" is the form Salamun"s poetic rebellion most often takes. In poems where politics do not appear, Salamun"s vision and enthusiasm take readers across thrilling terrain like in the poem "Words" where the divine power of a man makes nature change:.