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Poetry in Translation (XXXVIII – XL): Mircea Dinescu (b. 1953): Three Poems (Romanian English and French)

June 25th, 2006 · No Comments · PEOPLE, Poetry, Translations

Mircea DINESCU (b. 1953) – Three Poems

“O BETIE CU KARL MARX”, (Poems, 1989).

(Translated FROM ROMANIAN by Constantin ROMAN, London, February 2003)

“Venerable Marx, if you lived in these lands
You would be quickly clean shaven and sent to a school for re-education.
The fact that even the cows from the East
Which grazed near the railway line
Now think that they are locomotives and stopped giving milk
Is a mistake put to your name.
It would be so good if the cities were ruled by merchants
So that the marketplace should not stink of so much rhetoric
Let free the brewers, the pastrami makers, the milkmen
Full of the dialectics of fermented hops
And of the hardened cheese.

For the time being the farmer would gladly come to scythe
The green sepia of the punks heads
For the time being, thinking that you are dead
The new philosophers get drunk on the idea that they polemicise with you.
They have not got the daring to smell the yeast which ferments
To blow up the society
And start the alembic
Through which
The revolutionary Cohn Bendit
Precipitated into an amiable mayor.

In fact even myself who am an ordinary character
I am coming out like a slug from the syntax and the logic
To dream up that stomach virus
Which makes one drunk on a piece of bread.
Come on, taste it
We are on the right course
In Berlin the clocks started to go haywire.”



Poet’s NOTE:

Once upon a time, when we kept our sharp claws hidden in a velvet paw, an anonymous cat taught the Romanians a splendid lesson of Dignity: during a working visit on the Cathedral Hill in Bucharest, the “Most Beloved Son of the People”, accompanied by Raven, his favoured Labrador dog (Corbul – a present from the British Liberal party leader the Right Honourable the Lord David Steel of Aikwood, n.t.), descended from his official limo in order to admire the bulldozers inflicting a Hiroshima-like destruction to a historical residential neighborhood in downtown Bucharest. In the meantime a lone cat, which just lost its masters, was sitting on a pile of rubble, surveying like an omen the ruined housing estate, apparently defiant of the official visitor who just arrived.
At this point, Colonel Raven – because in those days all dogs belonging to the Comrade had grades, made a run for the ancient goddess, being encouraged to the task by its master. As it happened, just when action was meant to reach its climax, a lightning of claws emerged from the fur ball resulting in a fountain of blood and squeals. Uncle Nick flabbergasted by the shame inflicted on his gun dog, ordered his praetorian guard: “You catch that cat!”
In disdain, the culprit which was guilty of the punishable offence of undermining the national security, made itself scarce under a fallen fence and the lads sweated it out until late at night chasing up the illusory ghost of the cat, through the ossuary of a neighborhood, which only fourtyeight hours earlier was full of life and smelling the scent of lilac trees in bloom.
A few years later as a homage to this feline dissident teacher I wrote the following poem:

Translated from Romanian by Constantin ROMAN, London. June 2006

You catch that cat, shouted the Regent,
For it the Law can’t be so linient,
The foreign cat which does not give a dime
The Balkan cat, illegal and supine
Politically incorrect feline –
The hungry Balkan cat!
The metaphysics cat in search of trysts
Congenitally anti-communist
Consumerist who never tried alone
To strip a salmon fillet off the bone
Who never listened to the BBC
Who never went to Harrods for a spree.
How come that we inherited such cat?
Maybe from sermons of Adam Bhayat?
Or was it from some petty bourgeois gal
As surely not from the Neanderthal?
For Goodness’ sake do something with that cat!
Do kill it with a stroke of cricket bat
The Government will surely not complain
So long as it will not affect its gain
The bad-luck, idle cat and poor achiever
Which purrs and purrs whilst you all slog like beaver
Its languid manner shows its true disdain…
You Celtic ancestors, in overalls,
Do come and rescue us, heed our calls!



(Gandul, II, nr.329, Bucharest, 30 Mai 2006)

Excise of Brutality; teh Destruction of the Historical centre of Bucharest by ceausescu, to make room for his Paraoh's project of the Biggest building in the World. Inhabitants were given 72 hours to move out before the bulldozeres moved in.

Excise of Brutality; teh Destruction of the Historical centre of Bucharest by ceausescu, to make room for his Paraoh's project of the Biggest building in the World. Inhabitants were given 72 hours to move out before the bulldozeres moved in.

Pe vremea cand noi înca aveam ghearele îmbracate în catifea, o pisica anonima a oferit o frumoasa lectie de demnitate poporului român.

Aflat într-o vizita de lucru pe Dealul Mitropoliei, cel mai iubit fiu al poporului, însotit de cîinele favorit pe nume Corbu, s-a dat jos din limuzina sa admire joaca buldozeristilor „de-a bomba de la Hiroshima” din cartierul Uranus.

Pe o gramada de moloz, o pisica ramasa fara stapan veghea ca un duh al caselor demolate, ignorand parca voit alaiul oficial. Colonelul Corbu – caci ai cainii din preajma tovarasului aveau grade – s-a repezit spre zeitatea antica, încurajat de stapan, numai ca, în clipa fatala, un fulger de gheare izbucnit din ghemul îmblanit a transformat botul fiarei într-o fantana arteziana de sange si schelalaituri.

Atunci nea Nicu, îngrozit ca odorul sau a patit o asemenea rusine, a strigat catre garda pretoriana: „Prindeti pisica!”

Infractoarea ce adusese atingere sigurantei nationale s-a furisat însa dispretuitoare pe sub un gard prabusit, iar baietii au transpirat zadarnic, pîna pe înserat, fugarind stafia pisicii prin osuarul unui cartier care cu cateva zile înainte era înca viu si mirosea a liliac înflorit.

Profesoarei de disidenta felina i-am dedicat eu, cativa ani mai tarziu, acest poem omagial:


Prindeti pisica!, a strigat regentul,
Pisica ce sfideaza Parlamentul
Pisica hamesita din Balcani,
Ca-i apolitica si ilegala
si fara buletin de Capitala,
Pisica hamesita din Balcani.
Pisica metafizica si trista
Prin nastere cam anticomunisa?,
Cu gena dintr-o lume de consum,
N-a dezbracat în viata ei vreun peste
N-a cumparat jurnal în frantuzeste
Si nici gumari din magazinul Gum.
De unde dracu’ am mostenit pisica?
Din neorealismul lui De Sica?
Din mediul mic-burghez?
Din Neanderthal?
Faceti ceva! Dati-i în cap cu steagul
Caci nu va protesta areopagul
Din gaurile lui de cascaval.
Ea cîntareste lumea doar cu ochii
Ea poarta ghinionul precum popii
Ea toarce-n vreme ce voi toti munciti,
Lingoarea ei s-a cam mutat în lucruri,
Extrageti sabia din strung si pluguri
Voi, traci în salopete, si voi, sciti!


Mircea Dinescu (b. 1953): “EXILE” (Romanian English and French)


Au inflorit cartofii in Marmatia
si voi tocmai acum plecati spre sud
cind ceru-i aiurit si descusut
cind se confunda bocetul cu natia ?

Veti inventa durerea ca o tara
poate veti da peste-un mormint mai cald…
Scobim scobim cartofii de smarald,
saracii mei cartofi de piatra rara.

Ce zeu pastrat in saramuri celeste
ar fi dispus din nou sa ne adune ?
La noi la voi e plins de-ngropaciune
la voi la noi e-un capat de poveste


(Mircea Dinescu)

Translated from Romanian by Constantin ROMAN
(London SW1, 25 June 2006)

As the potato flowers are in bloom
You take the road which ever us do part?
Now that the sky is grey and overcast
And tears confound the country and the doom?

The grief will be for you the new abode
Perhaps a warmer grave and newer ethos
We shall unearth those emerald potatoes
Those precious stones dug out from where we hoed.

What kind of God preserved in secret heavens
May still be glad to gather our bones
With you, with us we cry on our tombs
With you with us a story ends in ruins.


par Mircea Dinescu.
Traduit du roumain par Sanda Stolojan.

Les pommes de terre ont fleuri en Marmatie?
et c’est maintenant que vous prenez le chemin du sud?
quand le ciel bat la campagne éperdu?
quand se confondent les pleurs et le pays???

Vous inventerez la douleur comme une terre?
vous trouverez peut-être une tombe plus chaude?
nous déterrons, nous déterrons les pommes d’émeraude,?
ces pierres précieuses mes pauvres pommes de terre.??

Quel dieu conservé dans les saumures divines?
viendra encore nous ramasser tous à nouveau ??
Chez nous chez vous on pleure près des tombeaux?
chez vous chez nous une histoire se termine.


Read more about Romanian Exiles and Poets in:

Blouse Roumaine – The Unsung Voices of Romanian Women

(Centre for Romanian Studies, London, 2009)

(1,100 pages, 160 Biographies, 600 quotations)


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