The Wolves – poem by Noemi Marin

On Tuesday, April 9, Noemi Marin will speak of her poetry volume, Aerul Departarii. For this occasion, I translated one of her poems. Here’s a link to the Tuesday event. I’ll join her to speak about C. Noica’s Pray for Brother Alexander.

The mirrors through which I walk my soul scare me;
at times, I am so alone within me,
I do not dare to take a glance to see my face.

I got tired amidst the wolves of soul,
the predators of me;
I attempted to show them
how beautiful I am,
and I know,
and they know,
that I am.

What kind of self-love would I need
to be able to detach my wing,
frozen as it is in the glass of the window.

Sleep comes to wash away the memories,
I listen to the soul in the quiet of the glade,
The wolves leave to pursue another prey.
They, the wolves,
touched me,
and they carry with them
the brilliance of the starry sign
in the night.

Zacchaeus – a poem by Dumitru Ichim

I expected

you to be just. What, no?

I am a desert,

hated by all, and most by me,

with heavy bags of sand within my soul.

If I were you, under the sycamore,

I would have showed my fist toward the wretch:

“You, brood of vipers,

embittered to the core,

you sucked the blood of orphans,

and of widows…”

“Come down,” I would have shouted to that self.

I had so stepped on others,

And now you could have showed

that You are the just judge.

The multitude You could have soothed

with my impure cloth, giving them justice.

And now, You stand on sycamore

with arms extended in a large embrace.

You’re ready

like an eagle.

How easy would it be to fly

from death!

But now, above, You are Zacchaeus,

and his entire love

you must return fourfold,

just as you promised.

Dumitru Ichim

And the poem in Romanian:

ZAHEU

Mă așteptam,

cu câte-aveam în cârcă,

urât de toți, pustiu fără pripor,

dar mai ales de mine,

ca Tu să fii mai drept. Cum, nu?

În locul Tău m-opream sub sicomor

și-aș fi-nălțat către nemernic pumnu’ :

”Pui de năpârcă,

înveninată până-n măduvă,

ce-ai supt din sânge de orfan

și văduvă…”

Să țipi la mine, să scobor,

că prea mă ridicasem peste gloate,

și să le-arăți

că Tu esti dreptul lor judecător,

cu cârpa-mi murdărită începând,

să-i ostoiești, făcându-le dreptate…

Acum Tu stai pe sicomor

cu brațele întinse-a-mbrățișare.

Ești gata

ca o pajură spre cercul mare.

Cât de ușor

ar fi din moarte ca să zbori,

dar astăzi, sus, Tu ești Zaheu,

și-ntreaga lui iubire

va trebui s-o-ntorci de patru ori

așa cum i-ai promis lui Dumnezeu.

The Prodigal Son: A Poem by Fr. Dumitru Ichim

This is a translation of a poem by Fr. Dumitru Ichim.

I would like to thank Gretchen (see her website here) for a suggestion in line 5 below. My first translation said, “All bridges are broken unstoppable…” The meaning was confusing, though, and Gretchen suggested to replace “unstoppable” with “impossible,” and I think this is much better.

The Prodigal Son

Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son

“The fog slowly is rising around here:

Father, it’s dark, I’m taken by fear!”

“Why? Can you no longer see the road home?”

“My light and my heart are worn; I just roam;

All bridges are broken, impossible,

Because I love myself… the prodigal.

The fog slowly descends from the mountain

Cunningly, to the mill, to the fountain…

Do I just seem to hear the cranes singing?”

“The clouds deceive you: fog they are bringing…”

“Where are you Father? You are a rock beyond choice

And closer to me than my very own voice.

The silence is painful, but I still shout to you!

I am hungry of you, and I’m very cold, too!

Here is the poem in Romanian:

 FIUL RISIPITOR

– Ceața prin văi se ridică:

Tată, mi-e noapte,Tată mi-e frică!

Nu se mai vede drumul acasă?

– Lumina-i ruptă, inima roasă.

Punțile toate s-au frânt sub dorul

de mine însumi , risipitorul.

Ceața din munte viclean coboară

pe lângă moară, pe lângă moară…

Nu în părere se-aud cocorii?

– Ba da, cu ceață te-nșală norii…

– Unde ești, Tată – nerisipit rămas

cu mult mai aproape ca propriul meu glas?

Doare tăcerea, dar eu tot te strig:

De Tine mi-e foame și, tare mi- frig

Farewell! A poem by Valeriu Gafencu


The poem was written in communist prisons and memorized by Valeriu Gafencu’s friends.
I would be happy and grateful for any suggestions for improving the translation. You can see the Romanian version below. 


Farewell
 
Bleeding out from wounds so deep,
From gloomy, sunless days,
From hidden wounds, with bones so weak,
 Buried in pus always,
I’m crouching in my bed. An adieu,
I think, I’ll tell to all of you,
My dear friends!
 
Cry not that I depart from you,
That they will throw me like a piece of trash
Within a tomb where thieves will be my crew.
The creed for which I’ll give my final breath
Asked for a hard life and a martyr’s death.
 
With Jesus as my Lord and King,
I rushed through the narrow gate, entered the ring,
And with the devil I began to fight.
And I did fight all years, day and night,
So that I become another,
A champion,
A new man.
 
And I desired,
By this thought I was fired,
To take my people in flight
To our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Now, when I see that I am so sinful, that I crawl,
That I’m so helpless and so small,
That I need mercy in my illness,
And love, compassion, much forgiveness,
That only God can do all things,
Can change man’s shackles into wings,
I too become a meek, small boy,
I’m humbled,
And in my heart there’s joy.
 
From your high, eternal Heaven,
My Father, when you take me up to You,
Remember all my friends here on earth:
Give back to them, dressed all in white, a levin,
A soul that loved and understood them, too.

(the last stanza is missing)
 
 
 
In Romanian:
Rămas-bun
 
Sângerând de răni adânci,
De zile fără soare,
De răni ascunse şi puroi,
Cu oasele slabe şi moi,
Stau ghemuit în pat şi mă gândesc
Că în curând am să vă părăsesc,
Prieteni dragi!
 
Nu plângeţi că mă duc de lângă voi,
Şi c-o să fiu zvârlit ca un gunoi,
Cu hoţii în acelaşi cimitir;
Căci crezul pentru care m-am jertfit
Cerea o viaţă grea şi-o moarte de martir.
 
Luându-L pe Iisus de Împărat,
Năvalnic am intrat pe poarta strâmtă,
Luându-mă cu diavolul la trântă.
Şi ani de-a rându-ntr-una m-am luptat
Să devin altul,
Un erou,
Om nou.
 
Şi-am vrut
Neamul să-l mut
De-aici, de jos,
La Domnul Iisus Hristos.
 
Acum, când văd cât sunt de păcătos,
De mic şi de neputincios,
Că am nevoie multă de-ndurare,
De dragoste, de milă, de iertare,
Că numai Dumnezeu le poate toate
Şi lumea din robie El o scoate,
Devin copil supus,
Sunt umilit
Şi-s fericit.
 
Din cerul Tău înalt şi prea-ales,
Părinte, când mă vei lua la Tine,
Prietenilor mei de pe pământ
Redă-le Tu, în alb veşmânt,
Un suflet care i-a iubit şi i-a’nţeles.
(lipseşte ultima strofă)
 

The Mine: a poem by Valeriu Gafencu

Another poem of Valeriu Gafencu, named by many the Saint of Prisons. Gafencu’s life ended in one of the communist political prisons that were spread throughout Romania immediately after the end of WWII.

I translated the poem from Romanian. You also have the original at the end. Any suggestions are always welcome.


The Mine 
A humble, simple thought–a gladsome light
From our mine rises to You in flight;
A soul that bathes in tears slowly prays:
“Oh, come, so that my sins from me you raise!

Then on my tranquil forehead place your hand
And gently call my name toward Your land,
Just as You called your friend out of the grave;
Oh, Jesus, give me water, please, I pray!

And Bread, and living Water from the Vine,
To feel life in my branches as a sign;
And in Your mercy, give me a clean heart
The hour when I joyfully depart
From our world of bitter wandering;
Make me a witness of Your face shining. 

Jesus, Lord, to us please come at dawn, 
Prisoners call You before they’re gone.
Oh, come, and to this mine give light,
And bless us all with all your might!”



In Romanian:

Mina

 

Un gând smerit si simplu, o lumina,

Spre Tine se înalta lin din mina

Si sufletul înlacrimat se roaga:

“O, vino, de pacate ma dezleaga!

 

Pe fruntea mea senina mâna-Ti pune

Si cheama-ma încetisor pe nume,

Cum Ti-ai chemat prietenul din groapa;

Te rog, Iisuse, da-mi un pic de apa!

 

Da-mi Pâine, Apa vie da-mi din Vita,

Sa simt pulsând viata în mladita,

Din mila Ta, da-mi inima curata

Si fata Ta divina Ti-o arata

In ceasul fericitei mele despartiri

De lumea asprei noastre pribegiri.

 

Iisuse Doamne, vino-n zori,

Te cheama cei din închisori,

O, vino, mina lumineaza,

Pe noi ne binecuvinteaza!”



In Romania, such loaves of bread are made for the memory of the deceased.




I live in hunger, by Valeriu Gafencu


This is another poem by Valeriu Gafencu that I translated into English. Even if you do not speak Romanian, you may want to listen to how the nuns from the Diaconesti Monastery in Romania sing it:




I am not happy with the translation (and it is one of my favorite poems), but I publish it here in hope that I may get some suggestions.


I live in hunger


by Valeriu Gafencu


I live in hunger, in great joy I live
a joy as a divine lily in Heaven.
The chalice of the flower’s always open
and filled with living water and with tears.
The flower’s chalice is the kingdom I live.

When  evil ones abuse and denigrate me,
My body burning with their boiling hatred,
The chalice of the tears, oh, how sacred,
Renews my soul all dry and slaggy.
I am embraced with Jesus Christ’s great mercy.

I bleed under the cross that presses me;
My body’s crooked, and I am quite helpless.  
From time to time an angel comes and blesses
and fills my soul with faith. No longer weary,
the triumph I approach: Jesus wins in me.

The sunshine rains on me in secret, ardent.
To drink from living water Jesus gives me.
The seed thrown in the tomb again can live
with its life fully dressed in wedding garment.
I live in hunger, in great joy I live.


Refrain:
Under the flame of burning love–my mantle,
I wait from dawn to night to be your conquest.
Even in night I call on you, head fallen on my chest:
Jesus, Jesus!
I slowly die, just like a candle. 


Here it is in Romanian as well, as it appears in Ioan Ianolide’s Intoarcerea la Hristos:


Dor

Traiesc flamând, traiesc o bucurie
frumoasa ca un crin din Paradis. 
 Potirul florii e mereu deschis 
si-i plin cu lacrimi si cu apa vie.
Potirul florii e o-mparatie.

Când raii ma defaima si ma-njura
si-n clocot de mânie ura-si varsa,
potirul lacrimilor se revarsa
si-mi primeneste sufletul de zgura.
Atunci Iisus de mine mult se-ndura.

Sub crucea grea ce ma apasa sânger,
cu trupu-ncovoiat de neputinta.
Din când în când, din cer coboar-un înger
si sufletul mi-l umple cu credinta.
M-apropii tot mai mult de biruinta.

Ma ploua-n taina razele de soare,
m-adapa Iisus cu apa vie,
grauntele zvârlit în groapa-nvie,
cu viata îmbracata-n sarbatoare:
Traiesc flamând, traiesc o bucurie.

Refren:
Sub flacara iubirii arzatoare,
din zori de zi si pâna-n noapte-astept.
Te chem si noaptea, ghemuit cu capu-n piept:
Iisuse, Iisuse!
Incet ma mistui, ca o lumânare.  
          


Another poem by Valeriu Gafencu


This is another poem by Valeriu Gafencu. Written in prison,  these poems survived because they were memorized by Valeriu’s friends. Gafencu was considered by many “the saint of prisons,” with a phrase consecrated by Nicolae Steinhardt.

As always, I would gladly entertain any suggestions for improving the translation.



Poem

by Valeriu Gafencu

My eyes are sorrow and my head is tired
by so much watchfulness and so much waiting,
my heart is sick, I feel my health required
by long and heavy running–it’s unending:
An injured bird–my heart is still on fire.

And when my eyes are close, I search within me
for strength, Golgotha I have to ascend,
and from my depth, a voice, en echo, tells me:
“Remember: Life is Jesus!” I consent.
“The precious pearl is in you.” A guarantee.

I contemplate the otherworldly morning
when You alive Rose from the tomb; I do,
again, with Magdalene, answer the calling
and so I kneel before You, crying, too:
I’m happy and I cry beholding You.




A gift; a poem by Valeriu Gafencu

This is a poem composed by Valeriu Gafencu during his last years in communist political prisons in Romania. Gafencu, considered by many who encountered him “the saint of prisons,” did not have a pen to write his poems; they survived because his friends memorized them and passed them from one to another. For many, the poems remained a source of normality in the middle of an insane world.
I translated the poem.

A gift

by Valeriu Gafencu                     


As a gift I send a lily,
Dear brother, from the garden.
It would give your eyes some comfort
With its pure, virginal garment.

Dear white, beloved flower,

How I’d wish that I could go

All embraced by your clean costume

To my Father, white as snow.

Seedling thus would I become,
In the most wonderful garden,
And my life would have as warden
Jesus’ love, from where I come.

In the night I cry all muffled
And I sigh with my faint voice:
Give to me the Wedding garment
With white lilies; I rejoice.

A lily as it appears in the drawings of Fr. Arsenie Boca (from his Living Words, published in 2014 by Charisma Publishing House)




Eminescu’s Ode

Mihai Eminescu is considered a Romanian national poet. I translated one of his poems in English:


Ode (in ancient meter)
                                          by Mihai Eminescu


I could not imagine ever learn to die;

Always youthful, fully wrapped in my mantle,

I directed my dreaming eyes always up

To solitude’s star.

When suddenly you sprang out onto my way,

Oh, you, suffering, you, so painfully sweet…

I drank the full glass of death’s voluptuousness…

Unmerciful death.

Woe, I burn alive, tormented like Nessus,

Or like Hercules, poisoned in his mantle;

I can’t extinguish my fire even with

All the sea’s waters.

Due to my own dream, I lament, all finished;

On my very own stake, I’m melting in flames

Can I ever come up, rise again brightly,

Just like the Phoenix?

May distracting eyes vanish out from my sight,

Come back to my bosom, sad indifference;

So that I can peacefully die, my own self

To me give it back!