Milena Merlak Detela – ASHES INT HE EYES

The politeness and the cordiality are the features that attracted and inspired everybody who knew Milena Merlak Detela. In the letter dated 12 July 1967 Milena put down her thoughts: “What makes an artist? This side belongs to the one playing with art. It also belongs to the opposite one – a realist taking the known path… and finally there is an artist, a child, thinking and brooding to death over things others find self-comprehensive.” The contemplations of Teilhard de Chardin are close to Milena’s sensibility. In the early 1960s they spread all over Europe and inspired Lev and Milena Detela with the most exhilarated euphoria. Teilhard saw the future of the mankind in the cohabitation of science, sustainable development and Christian orientation. He believed it was possible to achieve the ultimate integrative point he called Omega. In terms of perception the greatest and the most decisive occurrences in Milena Merlak Detela’s poetry were the landscapes and the universe of Inner Slovenia (Notranjska County). Close by are Kras and the Cerknik Lake which dries out and floods, changing with the changes of the seasons, surrounded by the secrecy of the woodlands, the horizon above the fields, an undisturbed view of the sun and the moon. Milena was longing for those homeland fields her whole life. She knows the religious beliefs and traditions of her homeland well, both in quotidian and festive times. Prayers and traditional rites are ever present and led her to contemplations of death and what it turns into. Contrary to that, the world was boiling in the bloodshed of the war during German occupation. It brought death to Milena’s family and broke her father who lost his willingness to live anymore. The marriage to Lev Detela and the emigration of the couple to Austria denotes a journey into new insights expecting them there. In this new atmosphere, new elements emerge in Milena’s poems – mountains and valleys, water and fire, darkness and light, birth and death. Words and metaphors in Milena’s poetry often express judgement: let the solitude be punished, Cain’s age has elapsed, may the scorching sun disappear. In modern times the fundamentals elapse – the light, the breath, the space – while the trivial imposes and overwhelms.