Vanessa Redgrave
Stane Sever


1839   "I work seven hours, so I can then drink for two"  
omewhere on the margin of all these stormy events in the life of the increasingly resigned poet stood the young Ana Jelovšek. Prešeren met her in Crobath's home, where she was a nanny, when she was only thirteen. At first she created no impression on him, even though Ana was supposed to be the sort of girl men liked. Later, however, a relationship developed between them, which may have been the only real sexual experience Prešeren ever had, as well as bringing the poet's final moral and general downfall. He may really have intended to have a family with Ana and start living a normal middle-class life - this certainly was her greatest wish - but there was little realistic chance of that happening. Prešeren was a timid and reserved man, whilst Ana was a lively and quite carefree girl; she put their three illegitimate children into foster homes. Prešeren did not write any love songs dedicated to Ana throughout the time of their relationship. The only poem on the subject of their "love" was Nezakonska mati (The Unmarried Mother), which is rather problematic, considering that the father of these illegitimate children was Prešeren himself. The depth of their relationship is shown by the anecdote recorded by their daughter Ernestina Jelovšek. When Andrej Smole suddenly collapsed and died in Prešeren's arms at the dinner honouring his name-day, the poet later, full of grief, sought comfort from his mistress. Her response was to ask "And who ate up all the rabbit?" Prešeren, disappointed and distraught, went to an inn, which was to become his second home. He had plenty of reasons for drinking: his application for a legal practice had been rejected yet again, his friends were dying one after another, Ana was not the right woman for him, Julija was happily married, even his poetic creativity was diminishing. The poet became more and more known for the verses he composed while drunk and for his obscene compositions. His appearance, too, was rather sad: he looked fat and neglected. His mental state was fairly accurately summed up in a remark in a letter to Stanko Vraz: "I work for Dr Crobath seven hours a day, so I can then drink for two at Metka's!" This inn was the home of Jerica Podboj, Metka's daughter. Prešeren fell in love with the young girl and dedicated quite a few poems to her (Ukazi - Commands, Pod oknom - Under the Window, Prošnja - A Request). This was a typical Prešeren love, "without any hope of victory", as Jerica showed no sign of having any feelings for the poet. Not long after, she married an English industrialist, the co-owner of the Ljubljana spinnery.

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