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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.


Cantecul de iubire al lui 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, atunci, tu si eu,
Cand amurgul se intinde pe cerul
Precum sub eter intins e pe o masa bolnavul:
Sa mergem, pe strazile cvasi pustii,
Acele retrageri susurii,
Ale noptilor de neliniste in ieftin de-o noapte hoteluri
Si ale restaurantelor cu rumegus printre cochilii de stridii:
Strazi ce se-nfiripa precum o cearta monotona
Dintr-o perfida zona,
Spre a te duce la coplesitoarea - ntrebare…
Insa nu,vai, nu-ntreba, „Ce este?”
Mai bine sa mergem, sa ne facem ale noastre vizite.

In camera unde femei, un du-te vino,
Vorbesc de Michelangelo.

Ceata palida frecandu-se de ochiurile de geam.
Fumul palid frecandu-si botul de ochiurile de geam
Cu limba lingand prin ale serii colturi,
Zabovind peste baltoace de prin santuri,
Lasandu-se cazand peste funinginea din hornuri
Se strecura pe langa terasa, si cu o zvacnire
Presimtind ca era o noapte lina de octombrie,
Inca-odat’ se –nvolbura pe dupa casa, si adormi.

Si intr-adevar va fi vreme
Pentru palidul fum prelins de-alungul strazii,
Frecandu-si spatele de geamlacuri
Va fi vreme, da, va fi vreme,
Un facies de-ntampinare a altor chipuri sa nascocesti,
Va fi un timp sa ucizi si sa fauresti,
Timp pentru toate lucrurile si zilele ,
Ce-ti ridica si-ti aseaza-n meniu - o intrebare.
Timp si pentru mine, si pentru tine,
Si iara timp pentru inca alte framantari,
Si de tot alte himere, si revizuiri,
Inainte de a-ti lua c-o felie de paine un ceai.

In camera unde femei, un du-te-vino,
Vorbesc de Michelangelo.

Si intr-adevar vreme va fi,
Sa te-ntrebi, „Am oare curajul?”. Si iara „Am oare curajul?”
Un timp de sa te-ntorci si sa cobori trepte,
Cu o idee de plesuvie printre ale parului fire,
( Ci ei vor zice: „Ce tot mai rare-i sunt ale parului fire!” ).
Haina-mi de dimineata; pana sub barbie, rigid gulerul,
Cravata-mi cu gust, modesta, dar de-un simplu ac moderata,
( Vor zice ei: „Ce subtiri ii sunt ale lui brate si picioare!” )
Oare sa-ndraznesc eu
Sa tulbur universul?
Intr-o clipa afli atata vreme
Pentru decizii, ori indecizii pe care tot clipa le va schimba..

Caci le-am cunoscut eu deja pe toate, toate;
Cunoscut-am eu seri, dimineti, amiezi,
In lingurite mi-am dramuit eu viata-mi;
Cunosc vocile muribunde, in caderi furibunde,
De dincolo de muzica unei camere – ndepartate.
Asa ca, sa -ndraznesc eu ?
Si am cunoscut si priviri, de toate-am intalnit -
Ochii ce dintr-un condei deja te eticheteaza,
Si atunci cand sunt oricum pe-o eticheta de-un cui atarnand
Cand tintuit ma aflu balabanind pe-un zid,
Atunci cum as putea sa-ncep eu
Sa dezvalui eu esenta zilelor si-al rostului meu ?
Dar cum sa-ndraznesc eu ?

Cunoscut-am deja si brate , bratele toate -
Brate si albe si cu bratari si goale
(Dar, cu puf maroniu, in lumina parelnica a lampii!)
Sa fie oare parfumul vreunei rochii
Ce sa m-abat ma tot imbie?
Brate ce se tolanesc pe-o masa, sau tot strang un sal.
Si-atunci, cum sa-ndraznesc eu?
Si de unde sa-ncep eu?

* * * *

Sa spun atunci ca in amurg pe strazi inguste fost-am eu
Si ca fumul din pipe urcand privit-am eu ,
Fumul barbatilor singuri, in camasi, aplecati peste ferestre?

Trebuia sa fi fost o pereche de gheare tocite
Gonind peste ape de mari linistite.

* * * *

Si amiaza, si amurgul, somn linistit!
Mangaiat de degete lungi,
Adormit... obosit.. sau bolnav prefacut,
Intins pe podea, aici, langa mine si tine.
Oare, dupa un ceai si prajituri si-nghetate,
As avea puterea sa arunc clipa-n paroxism?
Dar desi am plans si-am postit, am plans si m-am rugat,
Desi capul, c-o usoara calvitie, pe-un platou mi l-am vazut purtat,
Nu sunt deloc profet - si nici nimic nu profetesc;
Mi-am vazut clipa de glorie palind,
Si vazut-am si eternul Paj tinandu-mi haina, ranjind,
Si, deodata, mi se facu frica.

Dar pana la urma, merita
Dupa toate acele cesti, marmelade, si ceai,
Printre portelanuri, printre o sueta sau alta cu tine,
Chiar merita
Sa ma-nfrupt din materie farame c-un zambet,
Lumea intr-o mingie s-o prefac oare,
Pe care s-o rostogolesc inspre cine stie ce intrebare apasatoare
Si apoi sa spun: „Eu sunt Lazar, din morti inviat,
La voi inapoi am venit sa va zic, sa va zic voua tuturor “ -
De vreunul, asezandu-i o perna la capu-i,
Ar zice: „Nu asta e ce am vrut sa zic;
Nu, nu e chiar deloc.”

Si pana la urma merita,
Chiar merita,
Dupa apusuri si curti si strazi pestrite
Dupa romane, si cesti, si fuste pe-o podea razlete ,
Si asta, si altele multe?
Este imposibil sa spun exact ce vreau eu
Dar e ca si cum o lampa magica ar desena pe-un ecran nervii-n arabescuri:
Chiar ar fi meritat cu adevarat
Daca cineva, o perna aranjand sau un sal la o parte dand,
Ar zice, fata inspre geam intorcand :
„Dar asta nu e deloc totul,
Nu e nici pe departe ce am vrut de fapt eu.”

* * * *

Nu sunt nici Hamlet, si nici n-am vrut sa fiu;
Sunt doar un domn aghiotant, unul care nu face decat
Sa mearga treaba, dispus sa-ajute la o scena sau doua,
Sa-l indrume pe print;simpla unealta, doar atat,
Plin de reverenta, bucuros ca-i de folos,
Diplomat, precaut, si meticulos;
Plin de fraze marete, dar usor obtuz;
Pe alocuri, intr-adevar, chiar ridicol -
Cateodata, chiar marele Naiv.

E un fel de imbatranire a mea ... Imbatranesc...
Si cu pantalonii suflecati purtandu-i o sa ma pomenesc.

Oare sa -mi dau parul pe spate? Sa-ndraznesc dintr-o fructa sa ma-nfrupt?
O sa port pantaloni albi-grosi, pe o plaja hoinarind,
Undeva unde auzit-am nimfele una alteia cantand.

Nu cred insa ca mie imi vor fi cantand..

Le-am zarit indepartandu-se in mare, peste valuri
Netezind coama cea dalba de-a marii valuri
Pe cand vantul bate peste ape-n alb si negru.
Zabovit-am in incaperi ale marii
D-ale marii fiice zamislite, din ierburi ros- aramii
Pana ce voci de om ne-or trezi, noi inecandu-ne.

Dana Avram, teacher of English




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