UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Celebrating SSEES student Shaun Foley's, competition success!

16 June 2020

Forget me not

We're very proud of our final-year-student of Bulgarian and Romanian Studies, Shaun Foley, who has won the first prize in poetry and the second prize in prose in a strongly contested international translation competition held by the Faculty of Philology at Veliko Tarnovo University, Bulgaria. There were 245 participants from 16 countries, who submitted 438 translations of prose and poetry from 19 languages into Bulgarian and from Bulgarian into 13 other languages. The texts for translation from Bulgarian into English were by the Bulgarian author Leda Mileva (1920-2013) to celebrate the centenary of her birth. Congratulations Shaun!

Enjoy his translations of these beuatiful pieces here:

DUET, Leda Mileva (ДУЕТ)

Do you know
what kind of musician the wind is?
He doesn't play in the concert hall
nor in the theatre,
but on the fields,
in the forests,
down the small streets,
over wide squares.
He loves jokes:
sometimes he takes out a violin
sometimes ornate bagpipes
other times a big double bass
with a thunderous voice.
But this morning the wind decided:
- I'll play the flute,
the thin, silver, flute. –
And he struck up a tune.
On hearing the flute
the gentle voice,
the rain exclaimed:
- I'll play too,
to make real fun!
But what kind of instrument
can the rain play?
The rain is a drummer.
Immediately he knocked
on all the windows,
on all the panes.
He woke up the rainspout,
drummed on the branches
of a fir-tree,
of a poplar -
still drowsy and naked.
He hit the puddles,
the pavements,
roofs of houses,
the barns.
Whenever he met a raincoat
It became his drum.
The wind its flute was blowing.
The rain was merrily drumming.
And they formed a duet.
A lovely duet.
A jolly duet.
Who knows from where
The birds came.
The crocuses curiously peeked out
their blond heads.
And the duet didn't stop -
throughout the whole day,
not even at night.
When morning dawned,
everyone saw:
spring had come.
Her touch restored life to the trees,
and she listened to the duet,
as if hearing it for the first time
what a wonderful flutist the wind is,
what a drummer - the rain!


The south wind began to blow.
Two flower seeds realised that there was no reason to wait and released their thin stems.
The first flower looked at the sky and its tiny petal turned blue.
The second flower looked at the sun and decided to put on a large golden crown. Then he stood importantly in the quiet meadow:
–  Everything beautiful is golden! – he said. – The grain of wheat is golden, the clear sun is golden, and I am golden, although… my name is Dandelion. And what is your name, tiny blue flower?
– I don’t know. Nobody has told me...
In the evening an ant came:
– It is dark already and my anthill is faraway. Could I spend the night beside you?
The golden dandelion pretended not to hear.
But the blue flower whispered:
– Come beside me and welcome!
 The ant slept under the blue flower. And how marvellous!  All night the colour blue filled her dreams. She dreamt of bathing in the stream – and the stream was blue. She dreamt that she was floating on a blue leaf on the deep river – and the river was blue. She dreamt that she was sitting in a blue rocket and flying towards the sky – and the sky was blue.
In the morning the ant said that she would never forget this marvellous night, these dreams in blue and she would surely stop by again.
The flower smiled:
– Goodbye, Ant!
– Goodbye, Forget-me-not!
And the flower learnt his name.
For the dandelion all this was not pleasant. He was silent and becoming ever larger and evermore golden.
One day the ant stopped by again. And immediately she asked:
– Don’t you have a buddy? Where is the large golden daffodil?
– He is gone – replied the forget-me-not. – He was so full of himself because he was golden. But something incredible happened: the dandelion turned white, he became light and the south wind blow him away!... Look, only his stem remains beside my shoulder – a tiny dry stick…
– I won’t leave you all alone!– said the ant. – I will live alongside you. I will work hard during the day, but every morning, as soon as I wake up, I will tell you my dreams in blue as little blue fairy tales. Would you like that?
– What’s not to like!
And the blue forget-me-not caressed his little friend, the smart ant, with his petals.