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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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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.



Cintecul 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 impreuna, asadar,
Cind seara se intinde pe-un cer crepuscular
Precum pe masa o bolnava anesteziata, inca vie;
Sa mergem pe acele strazi semipustii de la periferie,
Cu soapte la retrageri in culcus,
Pentru-agitate nopti de prin hoteluri de o noapte
Si prin restaurante unde calci pe praf de scoici si rumegus:
Strazi ce te urmaresc, plictisitoare ca o cearta,
Cu scopul ei ascuns cu mare arta,
Ca sa te-aduca la coplesitoarea intrebare…
Dar sa nu-ntrebi „Ce se intimpla?” – nicidecum.
Hai sa ne facem vizita acum.

Prin camera femeile tot vin si ies,
Birfind usor de Michelangelo, bineinteles.

Ceata galbena isi freaca spinarea de gemuri,
Iar fumul galben care-si freaca botul de geamuri
A lins cu limba-n colturile serii,
A zabovit asupra baltilor din santuri,
Lasind sa-i cada-n spate funinginea din hornuri,
S-a furisat si pe terasa, facind un salt grabit,
Și, cum era o blinda seara de octombrie,
S-a rasucit o data-n jurul casei si-apoi a adormit.

Și într-adevăr va fi un timp
Pentru ceata galbenă ce-aluneca de-a lungul strazii,
Frecindu-si spatele de geamuri;
Va fi timp, va fi timp
Sa-ti aranjezi o fata care sa-ntilneasca fetele ce le-ntilnesti;
Va fi timp pentru a ucide si a crea
Si pentru toate treburile si zilele miinilor care
Ridică si-ti trintesc in farfurie o-ntrebare;
Timp pentru tine si pentru mine, discret,
Si pentru-o sută de-alte indecizii
Si pentru sute de viziuni si revizii,
Inainte de ceasca de ceai cu pesmet.

In camera femeile tot vin si ies,
Birfind usor de Michelangelo, bineinteles.

Si-ntr-adevar va fi o vreme
Ca sa ma-ntreb „Sa indraznesc?” si „Oare sa-ndraznesc?” –
O vreme sa ma-ntorc si sa cobor pe niste trepte, chiar firesc,
Cu-o pată, drept în creștet, de chelie
(Vor spune: „Parul i se cam subtie!”),
Într-un un sacou, cu gulerul de la camasa teapan, sub barbie,
Cravata scumpa, dar modesta si asortata doar cu-n ac –
(Vor spune: „Uite, bratele si gambele i se subtie!”)
Si-atunci sa indraznesc? Si chiar s-o fac,
Sa tulbur universul?
Intr-un minut e vreme berechet
Pentru decizii si revizii ce tot într-un minut si-arata si reversul.

Caci pin-acuma le-am aflat pe toate si le stiu deja:
Stiu seri si dimineti si după-amieze clare –
Mi-am măsurat si viata-n lingurite de cafea;
Stiu glasuri ce se pierd, cu toamna, ingropate
Sub muzica din camere mai departate.
Si-atunci ce-ar trebui sa-mi mai inchipui oare?
Si ochi am cunoscut, pe toti îi stiu deja –
Ochi care te fixeaza intr-o formula data –
Iar eu, cind sint fixat, expus ca-n insectar,
Cind, prins asa, ma zvircolesc, de parca-s pus la zid,
Atuncea cum sa-ncep, imi spun,
Sa scuip chistoace din ce-am fost in vremurile de-altadata?
Si ce ar trebui sa presupun?

Si brate-am cunoscut, deja le stiu pe toate,
Goale si albe, cu bratari impodobite
(Dar, in lumina, cu-n puf moale garnisite!) –
Parfumul unei rochii o fi oare,
De-am inceput sa divaghez asa de tare? –
Brate ce stau de-a lungul mesei sau infasoara-un sal.
Si-atunci, ce mai puteam sa presupun?
Si cum sa-ncep tocmai acuma, dus de val?

* * *

Sa spun ca am pornit-o-n asfintit pe strazi înguste
Si-am urmarit cum fumul se ridica din pipele
Barbaților singuri, în camasa, aplecati la ferestre?…

Trebuia sa fiu o pereche de gheare boante,
Riciind, in goana, pe fundul marilor tacute.

* * *

Iar dupa-amiaza, seara doarme-asa de linistita!
Sub degete mingiietoare domolita,
Epuizata… somnoroasa… sau dindu-se bolnava, de prea bine,
Intinsa pe podea, aici, alaturi chiar de tine si de mine.
Si trebuia ca, după ceaiuri, inghetata, prajituri ornate-n friza,
Sa ma impun cu forta de moment, pina sa faca ea vreo criza?
Fiindcă desi am plîns, am tot postit si m-am rugat,
Si, pe-o tipsie, capul (usor chel) mi l-am văzut adus in graba,
Nu sint deloc profet – si-n asta, chiar, nu e nici o treaba;
Si mi-am văzut si clipa de glorie-n pericol,
Pe veșnicul Lacheu rinjind, pe braț cu pardesiul meu ridicol –
Si, pe scurt, m-am speriat.

Si ar fi meritat, la urma urmei,
Ca, după ceaiuri, cesti si marmelada,
Printre atitea portelanuri, in mica noastră sfada,
Ar fi meritat, cit de cit, oare,
Ca, rumegind povestea cu-o mina zimbitoare,
Sa string tot universul intr-o mică sfera
Si s-o rostogolesc spre-acea-ntrebare,
Sa spun: „Sint Lazar, inviat din morti,
Veniti aici sa va vorbesc, si-am sa va spun la toti” –
Daca vreuna, asezîndu-si perna, intr-o doara,
Ar fi raspuns: „Eu nu la asta ma gindeam,
Si nu-i deloc nici ceea ce ziceam!”

Si ar fi meritat, la urma urmei,
Ar fi meritat deranjul, oare,
Ca dupa asfintituri si gradini si strazi stropite,
Dupa romane, cesti si fuste care-si trag trena dichisite –
Si dupa asta, dupa totul sau nimic?
E imposibil sa mai spun exact ce-am vrut să zic!

Dar ca si cînd, pe un ecran, lanterna
fermecata-si proiectase nervii-raze-ntr-un model,
O, ar fi meritat, la urma urmei, cit de cit,
Daca vreuna, aranjindu-si fie salul, fie perna, sa-i treaca de urit,
S-ar fi intors catre fereastra, si-ar fi zis:
„Dar asta nu-i ce-am vrut sa spun, defel,
Nici pe departe nu-i, defel.”

* * *

Nu, nu sint printul Hamlet, nici n-a fost sa fiu:
Sint lord insotitor, doar unul care
Porneste intriga, cel mult, si-o scena, doua, mai usoare,
Sfetnic al printului, ce-i tine si isonul –
Unealtă deferenta si folositoare –
Cu tact, prudent, ba chiar meticulos;
Plin umor subtire, dar putin obtuz,
Din cind in cind, ramin complet mofluz –
Iar uneori aproape-ajung sa fiu Bufonul.

Imbatrinesc… si timpul nu-l înduplec…
Dar cracii pantalonilor, macar, sa-mi suflec.

Sa-mi dau parul pe spate? O piersica sa-ncerc?
Sau în izmene de flanel pe plaja sa ma plimb in cerc?

Am auzit naiadele, cintindu-si, vag, o melodie –
Insa nu cred c-ar consimti sa mi-o ingine, lin, si mie –

Si le-am vazut, pe valuri, spre larguri cum pluteau
Si coamele lor albe-n raspar le despicau,
Cind vintul ba albește, ba innegreste apa.
Prin încaperi din mare, am fost chiar la agapa
Fecioarelor marine, cu care-am si dansat –
Cind ne trezira voci umane – si-atunci ne-am inecat.

Viorel Stefanescu , critic, editor and translator




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