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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 iubirii 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, zic, eu si cu tine,
Cand seara pune stapanire pe-ntregul cer
Asa cum anestezicul tintuieste pacientul pe-o masa;
Sa mergem, zic, haladuind pe strazile semi-pustii,
Soptitele discutii se muta
Pentru nopti de neodihna in ieftine hoteluri
Si restaurante cu rumegus pe jos si cochilii de scoici:
Strazile ce vin ca un argument anost
Al unui plan abscons
De-a te calauzi spre-apasatoarea intrebare…
Dar nu-ntreba, „Ce este?”
Sa mergem sa vedem noi insine.

Si-n camera femeile vin si pleaca
Vorbind de Michelangelo.

Ceata galbuie ce-si freaca spatele de cadrele ferestrelor,
Fumul galbui isi gadila nasucul de cadrele ferestrelor,
Si limba lui strabate ici si acolo seara,
Zaboveste asupra piscinelor formate in canale,
Si poarta pe spate funigeii din seminee,
Alunecand langa terasa, face un salt inopinat,
Si vazand ca e o nopate blanda de Octombrie,
Se-nvarteste din nou in jurul casei si adoarme.

Si chiar va fi vreme
Pentru fumul galbui care pluteste de-a lungul strazii,
Frecandu-si spatele de cadrele ferestrelor;
Va fi vreme, da, va fi vreme
Sa ai fizionomia cu care intalnesti si alte chipuri;
Va fi vreme de crime si de muze,
Si vreme pentru toate cele si zile bune
Care isca si-ti arunca-n brate o-ntrebare;
Vreme pentru ine si vreme pentru mine,
Si chiar si vreme pentru mii de razgandiri,
Si pentru mii si mii de fantezii si reveniri,
Inainte de a servi painea prajita cu ceai.

Si-n camera femeile vin si pleaca
Vorbind de Michelangelo.

Si chiar va fi vreme
Sa te intrebi, „Indraznesc oare?” si, „Indraznesc oare?”
Vreme sa te intorci si sa cobori scarile,
Cu o urma de calvitie chiar in crestetul capului –
(Si se va spune: „Nu mai are un par asa bogat!”)
Haina mea de dimineata, cu gulerul bine ridicat pana la barbie,
Cu cravata cea scumpa, dar simpla, evidentiata doar cu un ac –
(Si se va spune: „Dar ce maini si picioare subtiri are!”)
Indraznesc oare
Sa perturb intregul univers?
Si intr-o clipa e vreme
De hotarit si razgandit si iar de razgandit.

Caci deja ii stiu pe toti, ii stiu pe toti:
Cunosc serile, diminetile, amiezile,
Mi-am cantarit viata cu linguri de cafea;
Cunosc vocile care se sting si pier incet
Dincolo de muzica dintr-o camera indepartata.
Deci ce sa mai cred?
Mai stiu si ochii, ii stiu pe toti –
Ochii care te fixeaza intr-un anume fel,
Si cand sunt fixat asa, proptit intr-un cui,
Cand sunt agatat asa si ma balansez pe perete,
Atunci cum oare sa-ncep
Sa dau in vileag totul despre viata si caile mele?
Deci ce sa mai cred?

Eu mai stiu si bratele, le stiu pe toate –
Brate acoperite de bratari si albe si goale
(Dar la lumina lampii, acoperite c-un puf cafeniu!)
Sa fie parfumul unei rochii
Care ma face sa ma abat de la subiect?
Brate intinse de-a lungul mesei, sau ascunse sub un sal.
Deci ce sa mai cred?
Si cum oare sa-ncep?


* * * *

Sa spun, am plecat in amurg pe strazi inguste
Si am privit la fumul ce se ridica prin hornurile
Celor singuri, ce stateau in camasa la marginea ferestrei?...

Ar fi trebuit sa fiu o pereche de gheare ascutite
Scrijelind adancurile marilor linistite.

* * * *

Si amiaza, seara, atat de linistita doarme!
Mangaiata de degete lungi,
Adormita… obosita… sau pur si simplu zace,
Intinsa pe podea, chiar langa mine si tine.
Oare, dupa ceai, prajituri si inghetata,
Voi avea taria sa-i dau momentului intensitatea maxima?
Dar desi am plans si am postit, am plans si m-am rugat,
Desi mi-am vazut capul (care cheleste treptat) pus pe un
Nu sunt un vizionar – deci nu e mare treaba;
Am vazut clipa maretei mele treceri,
Si am vazut celebrul Valet tinandu-mi haina, si chicotind,
Ce mai, mi-a fost frica.

Si ar fi meritat, la urma urmelor,
Dupa atatea cesti, si dulceata, si ceai,
Printre portelanuri, printre discutiile purtate de noie doi,
Ar fi meritat totusi,
Sa te apuci de lucru cu zambetul pe buze,
Sa inghesui intregul univers intr-un glob
Sa-l rostogolesti spre vreo-ntrebare apasatoare,
Sa spui: „Sunt Lazar, inviat din morti,
M-am intors sa va spun tuturor, si va voi spune tuturor” –
Daca cineva, asezand o perna sub capul ei,
Ar spune: „Nu e deloc ce-am vrut sa spun;
Deloc, deloc.”

Si ar fi meritat, la urma urmei,
Ar fi meritat totusi,
Dupa asfintit, in spatele curtilor, pe strazile spalate,
Dupa romane, dupa cesti de ceai, dupa acele fuste lungi ce matura podelele –
Si asta, si multe altele? –
E pur si simplu imposibil sa spun exact ce vreau!
Dar asemenea magicei lanterne ce-arunca flashuri de modele pe-un ecran:
Ar fi meritat oare
Daca cineva, asezand o perna sau aruncand un sal,
Si intorcandu-se catre fereastra, ar fi spus:
”Nu e deloc asa,
Nici pe departe ce-am vrut sa spun.”

* * * *

Nu sunt eu Printul Hamlet, nici nu a fost asta intentia;
Sunt un insotitor, unul care,
Pentru a intensifica progresul, va porni o scena sau poate doua,
Il va povatui pe print; fara indoiala, un simplu instrument,
Respectuos, bucuros ca e de ajutor,
Politicos, grijuliu si minutios;
Probeaza o inalta clasa, da-i cam ingust;
Din cand in cand, e drept, chiar ridicol –
Uneori, poate putin cam Prost. Almost, at times, the Fool.

Imbatranesc… imbatranesc…
Mai am putin si-mi voi indoi manseta pantalonilor.

Sa-mi dau parul pe spate? Sa mananc oare o piersica?
Voi purta pantaloni albi de penea si ma voi plimba pe plaja.
Am auzit sirenele cantand, pe fiecare-n parte.

Nu cred ca imi vor canta mie.

Le-am vazut zburand pe valuri, venind din larg
Pieptanand pletele dalbe ale valurilor naravase
Cand vantul bate apa-i si neagra si alba.
Am zabovit in incaperile marii
Cu lostrite-avand coronite din alge rosiatice si maronii
Pana cand omul ne-a trezit si ne-am inecat.

Dominique Sorocan (MTTLC present student)




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