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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 seara-n vazduh se-ntinde, greu,
Asemeni unui suferind pe-o targa amortit ;
Sa mergem deci, pe-acele strazi aproape pustiite
Ragazurile abia soptite
Din noptile neobosite prin ieftine hoteluri
Si baruri prafuite cu cochilii din valuri :
Strazi ce se-nsiruiesc ca certurile nesfarsite
Iscate din imbolduri tainuite
Menite sa te-aduca la o-ntrebare apasatoare.
O, rogu-te, nu intreba „Ce-i asta ?”
Sa mergem dara sa ne facem garda.

Femeile ce se perinda-n incapere
Pe Michelangelo-l discuta cu placere.

Galbuia ceata ce spinarea-si freaca de ferestre
Si fumul cel galbui ce botu-si freaca de ferestre
Limba si-o plescai in colturile inserarii
Si adasta deasupra baltilor cararii.
Lasa sa-i cada-n spate cenusa ce din hornuri ninge,
Pe sub terasa lunecand, deaodat’ facu un salt ‘nainte,
Si bucurandu-se de noaptea calda de Octomvrie
Se-ncolaci o data-n jurul casei si-atipi.

Si-ntr-adevar va fi destula vreme
Pentru galbuiul fum ce-n strada-acum se cerne
Frecandu-si de ferestre spatele.
Fi-va destula vreme, si inca destula
Sa-ti faureati un chip pentru acele chipuri ce vei intalni;
Fi-va destula vreme sa ucizi si sa inalti
Si vreme pentru-ale acelor maini urzeli si zile
Ce-nalta si apoi usor coboara o intrebare la tine-n farfurie;
Vreme destula pentru tine si vreme destula pentru mine.
Si iarasi vreme pentru toate-acele framantari
Si pentru toate-acele visuri si-ntrebari
Mai inainte chiar ca ceaiul sa ni-l bem cu paine.

Femeile ce se perinda-n incapere
Pe Michelangelo-l discuta cu placere.

Si-ntr-adevar va fi destula vreme
Sa ma intreb : „Chiar oare sa cutez ?” si iara „Sa cutez ?”
Vreme destula sa ma intorc si scara s-o cobor
Chelia-n claia capului itindu-se usor
(Vor spune :”Cum paru-i rar mai tare s-a rarit !”)
Cu gulerul scurteicii catre barbie mult scrobit
Si cu cravata simpla, dar bogata, de-un singur ac innobilata !
(Vor spune : „Cum brate si picioare i-au slabit deodata !”)
Deci oare sa cutez
Sa tulbur dar’ intregul univers ?
Intr-o clipita este vreme
De intrebari si framantari ce chiar clipita insasi le preschimba in nonsens.

Caci le stiam deja, le cunosteam pe toate :
Stiam si inserarile si diminetile si amiaza grea
Caci viata-mi masuram cu lingurita de cafea ;
Stiu toate glasurile ce trag sa moara-ncetisor
Sub dulcea apasare a muzicii indepartatului salon
Cum asadar sa presupun ?

Si cunosteam deja si ochii, da, ii cunosteam pe toti
Acei ochi ce cu-o vorba te si tintuiesc
Si cand deci, astfel rastignit si atarnand de-un cui
Cum oare sa incep sa spui
Sa scuip afara tot ce-n cararea vietii mele a fost scrum
Si cum sa presupun ?

Si cunosteam si bratele, le cunosteam pe toate
Acele brate impopotonate, albe, goale
(Dar in lumina lampii-acoperite cu par moale!)
Sa fie oare doar parfumul unei rochii
Cel ce ma-mpinge acuma sa bat campii ?
Brate ce lenese se-ntind pe mese sau strang un sal pe coate.
Si-atunci sa presupun ?
Si cum sa-ncep sa spun ?


Sa spun ca la amurg m-am dus pe strazile inguste
Si am privit la fumul ce se-nalta din camerele triste
Ale insinguratilor ce-atarna-n bluze cenusii pe geamuri ?…

O, de-as fi fost o singura pereche de-ntinate gheare
Sa fi zgariat usor podeaua marii de tacere.

Si amiaza, inserarea se odihneste-n pace !

De degetele lungi si fine alintata,
Atipita…istovita…zacand de-o dulce suferinta
Lungita pe podea, aici alaturea de tine si de mine.
Sa am puterea dupa ceai, prajiturele si-nghetata, eu
Sa-mping aceasta clipa dulce-n hau ?
Dar chiar de-am plans si-am ajunat si-am plans si iara m-am rugat
Si chiar de propriul cap (cu urme-abia zarite de chelie)
Mi l-am vazut adus aicea pe-o tipsie
Nu sunt profet si asta nu-i o profetie.

Momentul maretiei mele l-am vazut palind
Si l-am zarit pe-Aprodul far’ de moarte tinandu-mi haina si ranjind
Pe scurt, asa e, mi-a fost frica.

Si de-ar fi meritat la urma urmei
Dupa cescute, marmelada, ceai,
Printre portelanuri si palavrageala despre noi, vai,
Doar de-ar fi meritat
Sa ma infrupt cu un muscat
Si universu-ntreg sa-l fac o minge
Si sa-l rostogolesc spre vreo-ntrebare apasatoare.
Sa spun : „Sunt Lazar si m-am ridicat din morti
Si m-am intors ca sa va spun la toti.”
De-ar spune vreuna, potrivindu-si bine perna
Sub cap : „Aceasta nu-i ce-am vrut sa spun defel;
Nu-i asta ce am vrut sa spun, in nici un fel.”

Si de-ar fi meritat la urma urmei,
De ar fi meritat cat de putin
Dupa acele amurguri si zagazuri si poleite strazi
Dupa istorii, cesti de ceai si rochii ce matura podeaua
Si asta si-atat de mult mai multe necantarite cu ocaua?
Sa spun ce vreau sa spun e-n van
Dar cum o lampa fermecata modele minunate zugraveste pe tavan :
Doar de-ar fi meritat cat de putin
De vreuna, potrivindu-si perna sau azvarlindu-si salul, si-ntr-un fel
Rotindu-se spre geam ar spune :
„Aceasta nu-i ce-am vrut sa spun defel
Nu-i asta ce sa spun am vrut, in nici un fel.”

Nu sunt eu Printul Hamlet si nici n-a fost sa fiu,
Sunt aghiotant si inca unul care-ar fi dispus
De dragul piesei, sa-nceapa cu ce-are de spus
Macar o scena-doua ; pe print sa-l sfatuiasca ; fara-ndoiala slujitor supus
Politicos si grabnic ca sa fie de folos
Sfatos, prevazator, meticulos
Plin de bun simt, dar si nitel gomos.
Si uneori, e-adevarat, chiar caraghios
Iar alteori, aproape-un Prost.

Sa-mi pieptan parul catre spate? Din piersici sa cutez sa ma infrupt, din a lor coaja?
Cu pantalonii din flanela alba voi rataci-ndelung pe plaja
Am auzit mai ieri sirenele cantandu-si, ca-ntr-o vraja.

Si totusi, mie nu imi vor canta, gandesc.

Si le-am zarit gonind pe valuri catre tarm
Si domolind a valurilor coama
Cand vantul sufla si apa-n alb si negru se destrama.
Ne-am tolanit in ale marii dormitoare
Langa acele vesnice fecioare-nvesmantate-n alge rosii-cafenii
Pan’ ce din somn am fost treziti de voci; si-apoi ne-am inecat. Erau ei, oamenii.

Ileana Botescu-Sireteanu, PhD student




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