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Poetry in Translation (CCCXV): Alexandru Osvald (A. O.) TEODOREANU, aka “Pastorel” (1894-1964), ROMANIA – “CALIGULA ”, “CALIGULA ”

January 24th, 2015 · No Comments · Communist Prisons, PEOPLE, Poetry, POLITICAL DETENTION / DISSENT, quotations, Translations

Poetry in Translation (CCCXV): Alexandru Osvald (A. O.) TEODOREANU, aka “Pastorel” (1894-1964), ROMANIA – “CALIGULA ”, “CALIGULA ”

Caligula (Marble - British Museum)

Caligula (Marble – British Museum)


aka “Păstorel” (1894-1964)

Caligula imperator
Şi-a făcut calul Senator.
Petru Groza, mai sinistru,
Şi-a făcut boul ministru.


Caligula Imperator
Made his horse a Senator…
Stalin, far more sinister,
Made his ass a Minister.

Rendered in Romanian by Constantin ROMAN, London
© 2015 Copyright Constantin ROMAN, London

* * * * * *

EDITOR’S NOTE: The first concern in translating this epigram was to preserve the musicality devolved from the rhythm. Such constraint, is made, inevitably, at the expense of the content. Furthermore, given the inherent limitations imposed by the four-line verse of an epigram, one will have to make sure that the political thrust of the Romanian original is not blunted in the English version. This is particularly important given the fact that today’s Anglo-Saxon readership, will have to grasp political innuendos of a mid 20th century cultural and political mindset, of a “faraway country”, very different from today’s society.
Given such limitations, certain compromises and adaptations had to be made, whereby the name of the Romanian Communist President Petru Groza (1884-1958) was substituted to that of Stalin and the Romanian pejorative of “bou” (mening literally “ox” i.e. an “idiot”, in Romanian) was substituted in English by the derogatory “ass”.



SHORT BIO: Păstorel Teodoreanu, aka Păstorel (born Alexandru Osvald (Al. O.) Teodoreanu (b. July 30, 1894 – d. March 17, 1964). Epigramist, journalist, food aficionado, witt, political prisoner.

Păstorel was a Romanian humorist, poet and gastronome, the brother of novelist Ionel Teodoreanu. He worked in many genres, but is best remembered for his parody texts and his epigrams, and less so for his Symbolist verse. His roots are planted in the regional culture of Moldavia, which became his main source of literary inspiration, Păstorel was at once an opinionated columnist famous wine-drinking, an unrepentant bohemian, and a war hero. During the 1920s he worked for mainstream literary magazines, such as ‘Gândirea’ and ‘Viața Românească’, and cultivated a close relationships with literary critics such as George Călinescu (1899-1965).
Teodoreanu’s career peaked in 1937, when he received one of Romania’s most prestigious awards, the National Prize. During WWII he was an official government spokesman, which caused him to be shunned by Romanian leftists. Following the installation of a Communnist dictatorship, in 1948, Păstorel was marginalized and closely supervised by the regime. In order to survive he made some skin-deep efforts to adapt his style and politics. Beyond this façade of conformity, he contributed to the emergence of an underground, largely oral, anti-communist literature.
In 1959, Teodoreanu was arrested by the communist authorities, and prosecuted, as part of a notorious show trial of Romanian professional class. This got him a two-years prison sentence, which, given the notorious harsh conditions, resulted in a premature death.

Teodoreanu died soon after coming out of prison, a broken man, his literary work largely inaccessible to readers before the 1989 palace coup which removed Ceausescu from power. After three decades of a conspiracy of silence, imposed by the Romanian communist dictatorship, against a talented, if a mild, non-conformist critic, lately the epigrams of Teodoreanu are again made accessible to the Romanian public.

(modified from Wikipedia, English edition): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%83storel_Teodoreanu

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