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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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MA Programme for the


Review of Contemporary Texts in Translation and E-Learning


Parallel translations



The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair--
(They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!")
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin--
(They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!")
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all--
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all--
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

* * * *

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? ...

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

* * * *

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a
I am no prophet--and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"--
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: "That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all."

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the
And this, and so much more?--
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
"That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all."

* * * *

No I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous--
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.



Cintul de dragoste al lui J. Alfred Prufrock


S'io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.

Sa mergem, tu cu mine, dara,
Cind seara in vazduh se desfasoara
Precum un pacient intins pe masa, dup-anestezie;
Sa mergem pe acele strazi semi-pustii,
Retrageri bombanite—haide, vii?—
De nopti fara astimpar, in camere—de hotel—ieftine,
Si restaurante din rumegus, cu coji de stridie:
Strazi ce te urmaresc precum temeiul incomod
Al unui scop viclean
Sa te conduca la coplesitoarea intrebare…
Oh, nu-ntrebati de-a dreptul “Care?”
O vizita e mai convingatoare.

In asta camera femei intra si ies din nou,
Vorbind de Michelangelo.

Picla galbuie care-si freaca spinarea de ochiurile geamului,
Fumul galbui care-si freaca botul de ochiurile geamului
Si-a virit limba si a lins ungherele serii,
A zabovit pe baltoacele din rigole,
A lasat sa-i cada pe spinare funinginea care toarna din hornuri,
S-a furisat pe-acoperis, a facut un salt iute,
Si, vazind ca e o noapte linistita de octombrie,
S-a facut colac in jurul casei si a adormit.

E-adevarat, va veni ceasul
Fumului galbui care aluneca pe strada
Frecindu-si spinarea de ochiurile geamului;
Va sosi ceasul, da, va sosi ceasul
Sa-ti compui fata sa saluti, in calea-ti, acele alte fete de la promenada;
Va sosi ceasul sa ucizi si sa creezi,
Si ceasul cind, cu toate, lucrarile si zilele miinilor
Sa ia si-n farfurie sa-ti arunce o-ntrebare;
Ceasul tau si ceasul meu,
Si ceasul a o suta de indecizii
Si a o suta de viziuni si de revizii:
Sa iei un ceai cu biscuite-i greu.

In asta camera femei intra si ies din nou,
Vorbind de Michelangelo.

Si-ntr-adevar, va sosi ceasul
Sa ma intreb: “Cutez?” si “Cutez, oare?”
Ceasul sa ma intorc, in jos pe scara,
C-o pata cheala in podoaba capilara—
[Vor spune: ‘Pleata ii e tot mai rara!’]
Paltonul dimineata, gulerul ferm urcat inspre barbie,
Cravata calda si decenta, dar tinuta de un simplu ac, sa fie,
[Vor spune: ‘Ce miini, picioare slabe, de hirtie!’]
Cutez, oare,
Sa deranjez universul?
Intr-o clipa vine ceasul
Cind decizii si revizii intr-o clipa–si vad reversul.

Caci le-am cunoscut pe toate, da, le-am cunoscut deja—
Am cunoscut si seri, si dimineti, si dupa-amieze,
Mi-am masurat viata in lingurite de cafea;
Cunosc si vocile care se sting, fatala cadere de note,
Sub unda melodiei din odai indepartate.
Deci, cum sa ma incumet?

Si-am cunoscut deja si ochii, da, pe toti—
Acei ochi ce te tintuiesc intr-o expresie formata,
Si, cind sint exprimat intr-o formula, raschirat pe-o tinta,
Cind, pironit, ma zvircolesc pe un perete,
Atunci, cum sa m-apuc
Sa-mi scuip acele mucuri de zile si obiceiuri?
Si cum sa ma incumet?

Si-am cunoscut deja si brate, da, pe toate—
Brate incatusate de bratari, si albe, goale
[Dar la lumina lampii, in par saten invesmintate!]
Sa fie de pe-o rochie parfumul
Ce face sa mi se abata gindul?
Brate care se-ntind pe-o masa sau infasoar-un sal.
Si-atunci, sa ma incumet?
Si cum, oare, sa-ncep?

Sa spun: m-am dus pe la amiaz’, pe ulicioare,
Si am privit cum se-naltau fuioarele de fum din pipele
Unor barbati stingheri, in mineci scurte, aplecati peste fereastra?…

Ar fi trebuit sa fiu o pereche de clesti neregulati
Gonind pe fundul marilor tacute.

Iar dupa amiaza, seara, asa de pasnic doarme!
Domolita de degetele lungi,
Adormita…obosita…sau simuleaza o boala,
Latita pe dusumea, alaturea de tine si de mine.
Ar trebui, ca, dupa ceai si prajturi, si inghetata,
Putere sa mai am, momentul sa-l fortez spre criza?
Desi am plins, postit, plins iarasi si rugat,
Desi mi-am vazut capul [cu chelia la-nceputuri]
adus frumos pe tava,
Nu sint profet—si asta nu e mare paguba;
Mi-am vazut clipa cu cea mai intensa licarire,
Si pe Lacheul vesnic cum imi ia haina si pantofii
in primire
Si, pe scurt, mi s-a facut frica.

Si, ar fi meritat, pina la urma,
Dupa cescute, marmelada, ceai,
Cu-atita portelan in jur, in toiul unei discutii de-ale noastre,
Ar fi meritat, oare, osteneala
Sa musti materia cu un suris,
Sa comprimi universul intr-o minge rotunda
S-o rostogolesti catre o chestiune coplesitoare,
Sa zici: ‘Eu sint Lazar, inviat din morti,
Intoarceti-va, va spun tot, da, va povestesc la toti’—
Daca o ea, care-si aseaza perna sub capsor,
Ar zice: ‘Nu asta e ce-am vrut sa spun.
Nu, nu-i deloc ce-am vrut sa spun.’

Si ar fi meritat, pina la urma,
Ar fi meritat osteneala,
Dupa apusuri si gradinite cu flori in fata casei si strazi
Dupa romane, dupa cescute de ceai, dupa fuste ce-si matura
trena pe podea—
Si asta, si mai ce, in plus?—
E pur si simplu imposibil sa spui exact ce vrei sa spui!

Ci ca si cum o magica lanterna ar proiecta modelul nervilor pe un
Ar fi meritat osteneala
Daca cineva, asezind o perna sau aruncind un sal,
Si, intorcindu-se catre fereastra, ar zice:
„Nu-i asa deloc
Nu, nu-i ce-am vrut sa spun deloc.”

Nu! Nu-s Printul Hamlet, nu e soarta mea;
Sint lord insotitor, care-i in stare
S-accelereze mersul piesei, sa deschida o scena, doua
Sa sfatuiasca printul; neindoios, un vrednic instrument,
Respectuos, bucuros sa fie de folos,
Cu simt politic, prudent, meticulos;
Plin de cuvinte-nalte, dar nitel obtuz;
Si, cind si cind, ridicol pe de-a dreptul—
Aproape, cind si cind, Nebun.

Imbatrinesc… imbatrinesc…
Turul nadragilor sul o sa mi-l rasucesc.

Sa imi pieptan parul cu carare pe spate? Sa maninc o piersica se poate?
O sa port pantaloni albi, din flanel, si pasii pe plaja o sa ma poarte.
Am auzit cum isi cinta sirenele una alteia, departe.

Nu prea cred ca o sa-mi cinte mie.

Le-am zarit cum calaresc pe valuri, inspre mare
Cum tesala coama alba de valuri risipite-n zare
Cind vintul bate apa-n alb si negru, tare.

Am zabovit impreuna prin iatacurile marii,
Linga nimfe cu cununi din alge rosii si brune
Cind voci omenesti ne trezesc, si ne inecam in unde.

Cristina Nistor, PhD student




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