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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.

Sa mergem dara, tu si eu,
Cand noaptea se asterne pe bolta, cu greu,
Ca un bolnav de droguri pe-o masa amortit;
Sa mergem pe niste stradute anume, pe jumate pustii,
Retragerile in surdina
De nopti fara odihna in hoteluri ieftine, de-o zi,
Si restaurante cu podea de rumegus si coji de stridii:
Stradute ce te petrec ca o cearta obositoare
Cu un temei piezis
Spre-a te conduce la o intrebare coplesitoare…
O, nu-ntreba, „Ce-i asta?” iar
Vizita noastra s-o-ncepem asadar.

In camera asta femeile intra si ies cu ecou,
Tot vorbind de Michelangelo.

Ceata galbuie ce-si freaca spinarea de ochiurile de geam,
Fumul galbui ce-amusina cu botul pe ochiurile de geam,
Limba-si plimba prin ale serii cotloane,
Zabovi peste santuri, oglindindu-se in baltoace,
Isi aburca pe umeri funinginea din hornuri cazuta,
Aluneca pe terasa, sprinten deodata sari,
Si, vazand ca-i noapte de Brumarel, blanda,
Se-ncolaci o data in jurul casei, si - adormi.

Si intr-adevar va veni un timp
Pentru fumul galbui ce pe strada isi rasfrange-al sau nimb,
Frecandu-si spinarea de ochiuri de geam,
Va veni un timp, va veni un timp, negresit,
Sa-si gateasca un chip sa-ntalneasca chipurile pe care tu le-ai intalnit;
Va veni un timp sa faci si sa desfaci
Si-un timp pentru toate lucrurile si zilele mainilor
Ce ridica sau lasa sa cada grea vreo-ntrebare;
Timp pentru mine, timp pentru tine, timp pentru fiecare,
Si timp pentru inca o suta de sovaieli, fara pripa,
Timp pentru o suta de vederi si de revederi necesare,
Inainte de-a-ti lua ceaiul cu paine prajita.

In camera asta femeile intra si ies cu ecou,
Tot vorbind de Michelangelo.

Si intr-adevar va veni timpul fara-ndoiala
Sa ma intreb: „Ma-ncumet?” si, „Sa ma-ncumet, dara?”
Timpul sa ma intorc si pe o scara sa cobor,
Cu-o pata de chelie in fuiorul de par –
(Vor zice: „Vai, coama cum i se mai subtie!”)
Haina de dimineata, gulerul ce-mi urca ferm spre barbie,
Cravata bogata, dar onesta, de-un simplu ac prinsa cu semetie –
(Vor zice: „Dar ce picioare si ce mana pirpirie!”)
Sa ma-ncumet eu oare
Sa tulbur astfel universul?
Intr-un minut e timp destul
Pentru hotarari si revederi carora tot un minut le-afla reversul.

Caci le-am cunoscut de-acuma pe toate:
Am cunoscut serile, diminetile si dupa-amiezile deja,
Mi-am masurat viata in lingurite de cafea;
Cunosc vocile ce se sting c-un muribund ecou
Inabusite de muzica din odaia de dincolo.
Deci cum sa presupun asa ceva?
Si am cunoscut deja ochii, ochi de inchizitie,
Ce te pironesc fara mila in cate-o propozitie,
Iar dupa ce sunt astfel formulat, ca o insecta pe-un ac raschirat
Rastignit fara viata, pe-un perete atarnand,
Cum oare sa mai incep de-acum
Sa scuip toate chistoacele zilelor si cailor mele?
Si cum oare sa mai presupun?

Si-am cunoscut deja bratele, le-am cunoscut pe toate
Brate albe si goale, de bratari incarcate
(Doar la lumina lampii insa – in par castaniu-auriu cufundate)
E oare parfumul vreunei rochii de femeie
Ce-mi starneste aceasta logoree?
Brate ce zac de-a lungul mesei, sau in vreun sal se-mpletesc.
Si-atunci oare cum sa-ndraznesc?
Si oare cum sa purced?


Sa zic dar, am strabatut spre seara acele stramte stradute
Privind cum iese fumul din pipele barbatilor stingheri
Care se-nclina pe la feresti, in camasi cu manecute? …

Ar fi trebuit sa fiu doar o pereche de clesti
Ce se-ascunde iute pe fundul marilor tacute.


Iar dupa-amiaza, spre-amurg, doarme asa linistita!
De degete lungi si subtiri molcomita,
Atipita … obosita … sau, poate, bolnava inchipuita,
Pe podea langa tine si mine zacand tolanita.
Voi mai avea oare forta, dupa ceai, prajituri si-nghetata,
Sa fac lucrurile sa se intample odata?
Dar desi am jelit si am postit, am jelit si m-am rugat,
Desi mi-am vazut capul (cu o usoara chelie) adus inauntru pe-o tipsie,
Nu-s catusi de putin profet, si aici nu-i nici-o profetie;
Am vazut vremea mea de marire scapatand,
Si-am vazut cum vesnicul Valet haina mi-o tine, ranjind
Si, pe scurt, mi-a fost frica.

Si-ar fi meritat oare la urma urmei,
Dupa cesti, marmelada, si ceai,
Printre portelanuri, printre ceva barfa despre noi
Ar fi meritat oare, intr-adevar,
Sa fi muscat cu un zambet din al materiei mar,
Sa fi inghesuit intreg universul intr-un balon
Rostogolindu-l spre o-ntrebare coplesitoare,
Zicand: „Sunt Lazar, venit inapoi din morti,
Venit indarat sa va spun tot, o sa va spun tot” –
Daca vreo cutarica, ce pe-o perna capu-si ridica nitel,
O sa zica: „Nu-i ceea ce-am vrut sa spun, deloc,
Nu-i asta, defel.”

Si-ar fi meritat la urma urmei, oare,
Chiar ar fi avut vreo valoare,
Dupa apusurile de soare si gradinitele din fata casei si strazile stropite,
Dupa romanele, si cestile de ceai si fustele de-a lungul podelelor tarate
Si-asta si cealalta, si cate si mai cate ?
Mi-e cu neputinta sa spun intocmai ceea ce am in minte!
Ci doar precum un felinar fermecat modele magice pe-o panza intinde:
Oare ar fi meritat cu-adevarat
Daca vreo cutarica, perna aranjandu-si sau salul zvarlindu-l pe loc,
Si-ntorcandu-se catre fereastra, ar zice astfel:
„Nu-i asta deloc,
Nu-i asta ce am vrut sa spun, defel!”


Nu, nu sunt Printul Hamlet si nici n-am fost menit sa fiu;
Sunt doar un sfetnic de taina, unul ce-i de-ajuns pe cate stiu
Sa iste cate-o-tevatura, vreo scena sau doua sa-nceapa,
Sa-l sfatuiasca pe print; fara indoiala o simpla unealta,
Respectuos, fericit ca poate fi de folos,
Chibzuit, prevazator si meticulos,
Plin de fraze sforaitoare, dar nitel gaunos;
Uneori chiar ridicol – ce spun?!
Cateodata, aproape Nebun.

Imbatranesc … imbatranesc …
Pantalonii la poale o sa-mi indoiesc.

Sa-mi pieptan parul cu carare la spate? Vreo piersica sa-ndraznesc a manca?
O sa-mi pun pantaloni albi de flanea si pe plaja ma voi plimba.
Am auzit sirenele cantand una alteia.

Mie n-as prea crede ca-mi vor canta.

Le-am vazut calarind inspre mare pe-a valurilor creasta
Pieptanand a undelor coama colilie intoarsa
Cand vanturile clocotesc apa alba-neagra-n caldari.
Am zabovit in tihna prin ale marii camari
Fetele marii cu alge rosii si brune ne-au incununat
Pana ce voci omenesti ne-au trezit, si ne-am inecat.

Elena-Carmen Bobocescu




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