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Lidia Vianu - Director of CTITC (CENTRE FOR THE TRANSLATION AND INTERPRETATION OF THE CONTEMPORARY TEXT), Bucharest University, Professor of Contemporary British Literature at the English Department of Bucharest University, Member of the Writers’ Union, Romania.

 

 
 
 
 
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CTITC

CENTRE FOR THE TRANSLATION AND INTERPRETATION OF THE CONTEMPORARY TEXT
CENTRUL PENTRU TRADUCEREA SI INTERPRETAREA TEXTULUI CONTEMPORAN

 

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 TRANSLATION CAFÉ 


 

MTTLC
MA Programme for the

TRANSLATION OF THE CONTEMPORARY LITERARY TEXT

Review of Contemporary Texts in Translation and E-Learning

 

 

 

DANNIE ABSE

Return to Cardiff

'Hometown'; well, most admit an affection for a city:
grey, tangled streets I cycled on to school, my first cigarette
in the back lane, and, fool, my first botched love affair.
First everything. Faded torments; self-indulgent pity.

The journey to Cardiff seemed less a return than a raid
on mislaid identities. Of course the whole locus smaller:
the mile-wide Taff now a stream, the castle not as in some black,
gothic dream, but a decent sprawl, a joker's toy façade.
Unfocused voices in the wind, associations, clues,
odds and ends, fringes caught, as when, after the doctor quit,
a door opened and I glimpsed the white, enormous face
of my grandfather, suddenly aghast with certain news.

Unable to define anything I can hardly speak,
and still I love the place for what I wanted it to be
as much as for what it unashamedly is
now for me, a city of strangers, alien and bleak.

Unable to communicate I'm easily betrayed,
uneasily diverted by mere sense reflections
like those anchored waterscapes that wander, alter, in the Taff,
hour by hour, as light slants down a different shade.

Illusory, too, that lost dark playground after rain,
the noise of trams, gunshots in what they once called Tiger Bay.
Only real this smell of ripe, damp earth when the sun comes out,
a mixture of pungencies, half exquisite and half plain.

No sooner than I'd arrived the other Cardiff had gone,
smoke in the memory, these but tinned resemblances,
where the boy I was not and the man I am not
met, hesitated, left double footsteps, then walked on.



 

 

Intoarcere la Cardiff

Orasu-n care ne-am nascut, da, ni-l amintim cu totii cu iubire:
strazi cenusii, intortocheate, pe care-o luam spre scoala,
prima tigara pe furis fumata, o prima dragoste ratata.
Primele toate. Cazne apuse; autocompatimire.

Drumu-napoi la Cardiff – nu o revenire, ci-un atac
al identitatilor prost plasate. Sigur, totul mai redus:
Taff nu mai pare-un rau, ci un parau; castelul nu mai ameninta,
e-un loc decent, cuminte, parca tocmit din carti de joc.

Voci estompate-n suierul de vant, asocieri, sugestii,
nimicuri, cadre bruste, ca atunci cand doctoru-a plecat
si usa s-a deschis si-am observat fata bunicului, alba,
enorma, lovita crunt de socul unor vesti.

Nu mai pot numi absolut nimic, nu mai sunt in stare,
totusi, iubesc locu-acesta pentru ce-a vrut el sa-nsemne
pentru ce reprezinta el pentru mine, deschis, fara rusine,
un oras plin de straini, distant, fara culoare.

Nu mai pot comunica si ma simt imediat tradat,
imediat neplacut distras de simple reflectii fugare
asemeni unor reflexii ancorate, ce-si schimba chipu-n Taff,
ceas dupa ceas, o data cu lumina ce-n urma umbre-a dat.

La fel, e iluzoriu locul de joaca ud de ploaie, intunecos, etern,
zgomot de sine de tramvai, de gloante-n ceea ce pe vremuri era Tiger Bay.
Si nu-i real decat mirosul de lut reavan sub razele de soare,
melanj de-arome tari, jumate-ncantator, jumate tern.

Nici bine n-am sosit si, iata, celalalt Cardiff dispare,
si-n amintire-s fum aceste-asemanari abia pastrate
in care pustiul care n-am fost si barbatul care nu-s
se vad, ezita, pasii li se-mbina, apoi pleaca fiecare.


Translated by Nadina Visan

 

 

Return to Cardiff

'Hometown'; well, most admit an affection for a city:
grey, tangled streets I cycled on to school, my first cigarette
in the back lane, and, fool, my first botched love affair.
First everything. Faded torments; self-indulgent pity.

The journey to Cardiff seemed less a return than a raid
on mislaid identities. Of course the whole locus smaller:
the mile-wide Taff now a stream, the castle not as in some black,
gothic dream, but a decent sprawl, a joker's toy façade.
Unfocused voices in the wind, associations, clues,
odds and ends, fringes caught, as when, after the doctor quit,
a door opened and I glimpsed the white, enormous face
of my grandfather, suddenly aghast with certain news.

Unable to define anything I can hardly speak,
and still I love the place for what I wanted it to be
as much as for what it unashamedly is
now for me, a city of strangers, alien and bleak.

Unable to communicate I'm easily betrayed,
uneasily diverted by mere sense reflections
like those anchored waterscapes that wander, alter, in the Taff,
hour by hour, as light slants down a different shade.

Illusory, too, that lost dark playground after rain,
the noise of trams, gunshots in what they once called Tiger Bay.
Only real this smell of ripe, damp earth when the sun comes out,
a mixture of pungencies, half exquisite and half plain.

No sooner than I'd arrived the other Cardiff had gone,
smoke in the memory, these but tinned resemblances,
where the boy I was not and the man I am not
met, hesitated, left double footsteps, then walked on.

 

Inapoi in Cardiff

"Oras de bastina"; ei bine, multi se simt atasati de cate un oras:
strazi gri, intortocheate pe care ma plimbam cu bicla spre scoala, primul meu fum
din strada laturalnica si, prostul de mine, prima mea partida.
Primele nazbatii. Frustrari inabusite; auto-compatimire.

Drumul spre Cardiff parea mai mult un atac asupra mastilor pierdute
decat o revenire. Desigur, totul mai mic era:
Taff-ul lat de-o mila era acum parau, castelul – refuzatul unui intunecat
Si gotic vis, casoi anost, fatada de joc de clovn.

Vorbe goale-n vant, legaturi, indicii,
inadvertente si stramtorari, stop-cadru, atunci cand doctorul renunta,
o usa se deschise si zarii imensa fata alba
a bunicului meu, deodata-ngrozita de vesti sigure.

Nu-mi pot explica nimic, de-abia mai vorbesc,
si inca iubesc locul pentru ceea ce am vrut sa fie
asa cum il iubesc pentru cat de neprefacut este
acum pentru mine, oras de straini, de nerecunoscut si sters.

Nu pot vorbi – de aceea sunt tradat,
de neurnit de catre reflexii-nfime ale simturilor
precum fluidele forme ancorate ce vagabondeaza, alterandu-se pe Taff,
ora de ora, in vreme ce lumina coboara o umbra noua.

Ca o naluca mi-a parut si parcul cu leagane intunecat dupa ploaie,
larma tramvaielor, focuri de arma din Tiger Bay, cum ii ziceau odata.
Crezare numai acestui miros de pamant roditor si umed la soare,
amestec de esente tari, rafinate si vulgare.

Nici n-am ajuns bine ca al doilea Cardiff plecase,
memoria tulbure, numai asemanari zanganitoare,
unde baiatul care nu fusesem si barbatul care nu sunt
s-au intalnit, au sovait, au lasat doua perechi de urme, si au mers mai departe

Translated by Nicolae-Andrei Popa

 

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