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Poetry in Translation (LVIII-LXII): Horia STAMATU – Five Translated Poems

June 14th, 2009 · No Comments · Poetry, Translations

Horia Stamatu (Bust by Nica Petere Canada) Horia STAMATU (1912-1987)
(b. Valenii de Munte, Romania – d. Freiburg, Germany)


Romanian Culture:
In the company of Horia Stamatu, a poet and a pessimist like all Romanians, we were asking ourselves: is there  any more to extract from the Romanian culture? Ionesco has said the essential, introducing into his theatrical writing  material extracted from his origins: a genius of the absurd, of the derisory and of derision. His super-Romanian genius allowed him this tour de force of managing to  express himself in French. Cioran has imprinted a new tonality on the classic French style, a scepticism filtered through a West-European culture. Vintilà Horia has introduced a certain Romanian ‘wisdom’ into French. Perhaps his style is lacking somewhat in tension. Could it be because the spirit of wisdom does not adjust so well in French, on the contrary because it introduces a recitative character, closer to fairy tales and the poetry?
(quotation from the biography of Sanda Stolojan in: "Blouse Roumaine – the Unsung Voices of Romanian Women&quot)

NOTE:  To find out more about Sanda Stolojan,click:





Patria ta calatorule
e tot ce se desvaluie
ochilor tai mereu cautatori
si adevar e tot ce se vede
cu ochii intregii finite

De unde am venit?

Din noaptea durerii fara capat
Se ridica roiuri de stele
Si-mi lumineaza calea
In lumea de aici
Icoana celeilalte.


Your native land traveller

is all that unfolds before

your ever searching eyes

and truth is all you can see

with the eyes of your whole being

Where do I come from?

From the deepest night of endless pain

Swarms of stars are rising

To shed light on my path

Of this very world –

A mirror of the other.

(English translation Copyright 2009 by Constantin ROMAN)


Dinspre nebunele orcane
bate un naprasnic vant
gonind din urma caravane
bucati de nouri cu pamant.

Peste colina fara case
albastra luna despletita
in trei cunune sangeroase
isi varsa inima coclita.

Plutesc corabii mii si sute…
Sau panze negre sfasiate?
Armadele in somn pierdute
ce-au fost in mine ancorate.


From the fury of distant hurricanes

blows a beastly wind

chasing caravans

Limbs of clouds and earth

Over barren hills

a blue dishevelled moon

casts out its oxydised heart

along three bleeding crowns.

Are these all floating boats

Or just dark torn out sails

The Armada’s fleet lost in sleep

and anchored in my soul.

(English translation Copyright 2009 by Constantin ROMAN)


Tu fiu frumos pierdut in ceata
Tu soare nou ce m-ai rapit
Sa-mi spui: amurg era ori dimineata
Cand nestiind am adormit!?


You handsome youth, beyond belief

You rising star which wiped me off my feet

Was it at dawn or was it during eve

When finally I fell asleep?

(English translation Copyright 2009 by Constantin ROMAN)


Cazut-au negre foi din calendar
cu sarbatorile muiate-n sange
e frig pustiul in sine se strange
nimicnicia intinde amarul

Invinsa lumea pe-o roata se frange
intr-un oftat ce-i rascoleste jarul
in raiul destramarii la hotarul
taiat in vis de ucigasi naluce

padurea isi risipea banetul
intr-un vartej de frunze cazatoare
de-atata prea lumina orb poetul
se straduia s-adune praf de soare
dar cerul isi scutura sipetul
pe crestele de stearpa nemiscare.


All those dark pages of the calendar

are torn by celebrations drowned in blood

it’s cold this emptiness which gathers pace

as vanity grows ever deeper scars.

A vanquished world is broken on the wheel

Its latest gasp unsettling the warders

as disembowelled nirvanas at the borders

are trampled on in dreams of murderous zeal.

The autumn’s gold

a whirly wind of leaves

Its glistening light is turning blind the poet

this sun dust which he tries to get in vain

but suddenly the skies break loose the rain

on mountain crests of bare eternity.

(English translation Copyright 2009 by Constantin ROMAN)

PSALMUL 136 siege-moldovita2

La raul Vavilonului sedeam
si cu amar dupa Sion plangeam
harfele frumos sunatoare
le-am pus in salcii plangatoare

Biruitorii cereau sa le cantam,
vrajmasii sa ne bucuram
Cantati-ne cantarile Sionului!
Dar cum sa cantam cantarile Domnului?
Cum sa cantam in locuri straine?
Cum sa te uitam Ierusalime?

Dreapta sa-mi intepeneasca,
limba-n gura sa mi se lipeasca
de te-oi uita Ierusalime
si ma voi bucura fara tine!


On steepest banks of river Babel

I shed my tears for ancient Sion

And hung the strings of harps resounding

On branches of the weeping willows

The victors wanted us to sing

The traitors wanted us to bring

The joys of Sion’s hymns!

How could we, possibly, praise God

When living on this foreign sod?

Jerusalem we can’t forsake you!

You better set me all aflame

Or make my tongue go stiff and lame

If you are missing from my prayer…

Jerusalem, Jerusalem for ever!

(English translation Copyright 2009 by Constantin ROMAN)


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