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Two Romanian poems by O. Nimigean

January 25, 2011 5 comments

translated by Chris Tanasescu and Martin Woodside

 

nu-ţi garantează nimeni nimic

întâi treci prin foc focul nu e aşa cum îl ţii tu minte
un caras auriu cu aripi lungi înotând în sobă
sau alintându-se în iarbă (ochii lui fără pleoape
te-au urmărit o vreme te mai privesc şi acum)

focul e altfel nu se vede nu îl
vezi când arde curg de pe tine sudoare şi
zgură arde cu cuvinte incendiază
fantasmele provoacă metamorfoze groteşti vei
trăi nopţi în care statuile se schimonosesc stelele
fixe se zbat în zig-zag-uri lumina însăşi se umple de
pete hohotind ca o hienă vei trăi zile pline de fum
şi de mucuri zilele mutului

nu-ţi garantează nimeni că nu vei crăpa
că nu te vei întoarce bâţâindu-te
nuâţi garantează nimeni nimic e pe bune

 

no guarantees

first you walk through the fire fire not as you remember
a golden carp with long fins swimming in the stove
or prancing in the grass (its lidless eyes
have followed you awhile follow you still)

the fire is not like that not visible you don’t
see it when it burns sweat and dross flow
from you burns the words sets
phantasms on fire triggers grotesque metamorphoses you will

live through nights with statues distorted fixed
stars zig-zagging the light itself fills with laughing
spots like a hyena you shall live days full of smoke
and cigarette butts

no guarantees that you won’t croak
that you won’t return trembling
no guarantees from anyone about anything. This is for keeps.

*

din străinătate

gol într-o noapte încinsă
undeva la marginea germaniei
fosta fermă tace în întuneric
viermii moi se preling în sus şi-n jos
pe punga de gunoi bio de sub chiuvetă
îi privesc fără scârbă
şi constat că moartea
nu mă mai înspăimântă

poate e o trufie
ce va fi pusă cândva
crâncen la încercare
dar moartea
nu mă mai înspăimântă

mă înspăimântă cumplit
respiraţia mea liniştită
pulsul
odaia noaptea românia
căreia-i simt de departe
mirosul dulceag de stârv

moartea—nu

 

from abroad

naked on a scorching night
somewhere in far off Germany
one time farm keeps quiet in the dark
soft worms streaming up and down
around the recycled trash bag under the sink
I watch them without disgust
and notice that death
no longer scares me

maybe that pride
will someday be
bitterly put to the test
but death
no longer scares me

what scares me completely
my calm breath
the pulse
the room at night Romania
where I sense at a distance
a cloying corpse smell.

death—no


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O. Nimigean is a poet, novelist, and critic — one of the major voices of contemporary Romanian literature. His style is praised for its freshness, versatility and chameleonic variety, while his wide range of registers and forms span pastiche, satire, profane experiments with reshaping the sonnet, ballad, love-song, and elegy. Scathing political sarcasm shortly follows intimately harrowing confession, while jocular (self-) irony goes hand in hand with deep heart-felt genuineness in a poetry that speaks with both strong urgency and thoughtful serenity.

Martin Woodside is a writer and translator whose chapbook of poems, Stationary Landscapes, came out in 2009 (Pudding House Press). His translations of contemporary Romanian poets will be featured in a forthcoming feature section from Poetry International and in an anthology from Calypso Editions. He spent 2009-10 on a Fulbright Fellowship in Romania, researching/translating contemporary Romanian poets.

Chris Tanasescu (blog) is a Romanian poet, academic, critic, and translator whose work has appeared in Romanian and international anthologies and publications. He is author of four collections of poetry, recipient of a number of international awards and leader of the acclaimed poetry performance / action painting / rock band Margento. He is spending 2010-11 as a Fulbright visiting professor at San Diego State University in California, researching poetries and communities.