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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 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.

Hai sa mergem, asadar, tu si cu mine,
Cand seara acopera cerul
Asemenea unui pacient adormit inainte de operatie;
Hai sa colindam anumite strazi aproape pustiite,
La ceasul zorilor murmuratoare
Ce urmeaza noptilor agitate petrecute in hoteluri ieftine
Si restaurante de rumegus cu cochilii de scoica:
Strazi ce se intind ca o cearta suparatoare
Pornita din intentii inselatoare
Pentru a te duce la o intrebare coplesitoare…
Oh, nu ma intreba „Ce este?”
Sa mergem, sa ne facem vizita.

In camera femeile vin si pleaca
Vorbind despre Michelangelo.

Ceata galbena ce isi freaca spatele de ferestre,
Fumul galben ce isi lipeste nasul de geamuri,
Si-a modelat limba in colturile inserarii,
A zabovit deasupra baltilor din rigole,
A lasat cenusa din cosuri sa-i cada pe spate,
S-a strecurat pe langa terasa, a sarit brusc,
Si a invaluit casa, adormind
In noaptea blanda de octombrie.

Intr-adevar va fit imp
Pentru fumul galben ce aluneca pe strada,
Frecandu-si spatele de geamuri;
Va fi timp, va fi timp
Pentru a afisa un chip in fata celor pe care-i intalnesti,
Va fit imp pentru crima si creatie,
Si timp destul pentru toate, si zile in care
Mainile iti ridica si iti pun in fata o intrebare;
Timp pentru tine sit imp pentru mine
Si timp pentru o suta de nehotarari
Si o suta de viziuni si revizii
Inainte de a servi ceaiul.

In camera femeile vin si pleaca
Vorbind despre Michelangelo.

Intr-adevar va fi timp
Sa te intrebi „Indraznesc?”, „Oare sa-ndraznesc?”
Timp sa te intorci si sa cobori scarile,
Cu putina chelie in mijlocul crestetului –
(Vor spune: „Cat de mult i s-a subtiat parul!”)
Cu haina-mi de dimineata, cu gulerul ridicat pina la barbie,
Cu cravata-mi bogata si modesta, prinsa cu un singur ac –
(Vor spune: „Cat de subtiri ii sunt mainile si picioarele!”)
Oare sa-ndraznesc
Sa deranjez universul?
Intr-un minut e destul timp
Pentru decizii si revizii ce vor intoarce un minut.

Intrucat le-am cunoscut pe toate, chiar pe toate:
Am cunoscut serile, diminetile, dupa-amiezile,
Mi-am masurat viata cu linguri de cafea;
Cunosc vocile pe cale a se stinge intr-o ultima cadere,
Acoperite de muzica unei camere mai indepartate.
Si cum sa ma incumet?
Am cunoscut deja si ochii, i-am cunoscut pe toti:
Ochi care te fixeaza cu cuvinte exprimate,
Si cand eu sunt exprimat, intinzandu-ma pe un ac,
Cand sunt prins si incolacit pe perete,
Atunci cum sa incep
Sa scuip toate ramasitele zilelor si cailor mele?
Si cum sa ma incumet?

Am cunoscut deja si bratele, le-am cunoscut pe toate –
Brate pline de bratari, si albe, si goale,
(Dar acoperite cu un puf maroniu, la lumina)
Oare parfumul unei rochii
Ma face sa ma abat atat?
Brate care se intend pe masa sau se invelesc cu un sal.
Si-atunci cum sa ma incumet?
Si cum sa incep?


Oare sa spun ca m-am plimbat in amurg pe strazi inguste
Si-am urmarit fumul ridicandu-se din pipele
Barbatilor singuri, in camasi, aplecati la ferestre?...
Ar fi trebuit sa fiu o pereche de clesti dintati
Fugind pe fundul marilor tacute.


Iar dupa-amiaza, seara, doarme atat de pasnic!
Sub mangaierea degetelor lungi,
Adormta … obosita … sau se preface bolnava,
Intinsa pe podea, aici langa noi.
Oare ar trebui, dupa ceai, prajituri si inghetata,
Sa am puterea de a forta momentul pina la limita?
Desi am plans si postit, plans si rugat,
Desi mi-am vazut capul (putin chelit) adus pe tava,
Nu sunt un profet – si asta nu conteaza prea mult.
Am vazut palind momentul maretiei mele,
Si l-am vazut pe Servitorul etern tinandu-mi haina si chicotind
Pe scurt, mi-a fost frica.

Si s-ar fi meritat, pina la urma,
Dupa cesti de ceai si marmelada,
Inconjurat de portelanuri si de conversatie dintre noi doi,
S-ar fi meritat osteneala
Sa expediez problema cu un zambet,
Sa inghesui universul intr-o nuca
Si sa-l rostogolesc spre-o inntrebare coplesitoare,
Sa spun: „Eu sunt Lazar, cel inviat din morti,
Apropiati-va sa va povestesc tot, am sa va spun tot” –
Daca cineva, aranjandu-si perna sub cap,
Ar spune „Nu asta am vrut sa spun,
Nu, in nici un caz”.

Si s-ar fi meritat oare,
S-ar fi meritat osteneala,
Dupa apusuri si gradini in fata casei, si strazi stropite,
Dupa romane, cesti de ceai, fuste care matura podelele –
Si asta, si mult mai mult? –
Mi-e imposibil sa exprim ce vreau sa spun!
Dar ca si cum un felinar magic ar fi proiectat nervurile pe un ecran:
S-ar fi meritat osteneala
Daca cineva ar spune, aranjand o perna sau un sal,
Si intorcandu-se spre fereastra:
„Nu e asta deloc,
Nu asta am vrut eu sa spun”.


Nu sunt Hamlet, printul Danemarcei, nici nu trebuia sa fiu,
Sunt un slujitor, unul de care e nevoie
Pentru a spori progresul, pentru o scena sau doua,
Pentru a-l sfatui pe print; fara indoiala, o unealta usoara,
Respectuos, bucuros sa fie de ajutor,
La curent cu politica, atent, meticulos;
Plin de decizii inalte, dar putin obtuz;
Uneori, chiar, aproape ridicol –
Uneori, aproape Bufon.
Imbatranesc … imbatranesc …
Imi voi purta pantalonii suflecati.

Oare sa-mi dau parul pe spate? Sa-ndraznesc sa mananc o piersica?
Voi purta pantaloni albi de flanell si ma voi plimba pe plaja.
Am auzit sirenele cantandu-si una alteia.

Nu cred ca vor canta si pentru mine.

Le-am vazut inotand spre larg impreuna cu valurile
Ce matura crestele inspumate impinse spre tarm
Cand vantul bate peste apa alba si neagra.
Am zabovit in incaperile marii
Langa sirene invaluite in alge rosii si maronii
Pina cand, treziti de vocile oamenilor, ne-am inecat.


Daniela Oancea , MTTLC student




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