I have recently attended the “space” / poetry / jamming session I mentioned earlier and predictably, I chose to read a poem by Marin Sorescu. I thought I present it here as well.
The “Space Jam” started with our chosen poems and ended with an actual “jamming” session. I chose Sorescu’s Prieteni, previously presented in Romanian in “Sinucidere”. I judged it to be too heavy to start with, so I started instead..
With Only One Life (translated by Joana Russell-Gebbett with D.J. Enright)
Hold with both hands
The tray of every day
And pass in turn
Along this counter.
There is enough sun
There is enough sky,
And there is moon enough.
The earth gives off the smell
Of luck, of happiness, of glory,
Which tickles your nostrils
So don’t be miserly,
Live by your own heart.
The prices are derisory.
For instance, with only one life
You can acquire
The most beautiful woman,
Plus a biscuit.
Obviously, the above is a very optimistic, beautiful poem. But it’s not my fav. It was there only to introduce my fav, below. People were excited and happy so they were willing to take in something a tad heavier (but still, in my judgment, optimistic and solar).
Without further ado, here’s my translation (I have the Past Perfect of Flight, with most of his poems translated, but it’s in storage, so I went the DIY way):
Friends (Prieteni) by Marin Sorescu
Let us commit suicide, I tell my friends,
Today we communicated so well,
We were so sad,
This shared perfection
We won’t reach again
And it's a shame to waste this opportunity.
I think in the bathroom is the most tragic,
Let’s pretend we’re the enlightened Romans
Who opened their veins,
Talking about the essence of love.
Look, I heated the water.
Here’s the countdown: three, two, one ...
In hell I was somewhat surprised to find myself alone
Some die harder, I thought, they have more connections.
Have I fooled myself - the word must stand for something,
But time goes on...
It was pretty hard, in hell, I assure you,
Especially at first, you know, I was alone,
I had nobody to talk to,
But slowly I bonded, I made friends.
A very closely knit circle,
We discussed all sorts of theoretical issues.
We had a grand time,
We even reached suicide.
...And again finding myself alone in purgatory,
Searching for a few souls closer to the heart,
Although they are quite suspicious
Purgatorians- with their unclear situation
Between two worlds -
A girl loves me, she's very beautiful,
We had moments of great ecstasy - awesome, fantastic!
And I even feel like telling her...
Twice bitten, I let her go first,
I kill myself only afterwards,
But the girl does her thing and comes back to life -
And here I am alone in heaven -
Nobody has ever made it this far
I'm the first human, the world exists as a project
Something very vague,
In God’s head,
Whom I even befriend after a while
There is sadness at all levels
God is hopeless,
I look into his empty eyes and lose myself in them
He slides humming into the craters of my deaths.
We communicate wonderfully,
God, I think we have achieved perfection,
Why don’t we leave it all in the dark?
The attentive reader will note some similarities with other Sorescian poems.
Take, for instance, The Laughing Disease previously presented in Romanian in “Ea, nervi si bancuri”.
He was born in a peal of laughter.
When parents had to show him the world
He began to laugh in the face of everything,
Until the sun.
And of every word,
Seven years old he had yet to stop laughing
And the doctors sent him to school.
Teachers showed him the Physics book
But he laughed with his hands clutching the stomach.
At History he had reached his knees with his hands.
At Geography, the feet.
Then the doctors recommended three women
Worthy of this name,
With whom to fall in love,
Love being part of peace prophylaxis.
How can I tell you?
The first he loved out-loud,
The second he smiled,
With the third he choked laughing.
Then the doctors have prescribed him death
To take once in life
And then one teaspoon
Every three eternities.
But even in the grave
He still continues, today, to laugh.
He’s been moved to date in about
At the repeated requests
Of the departed.
We seem to have above, as in “friends”, the same 3-stage progression.
Finally, here are some quotes about Sorescu from an Oberlin publication.
- "If anybody, except a poet, were saying the things Sorescu says in his poems, he or she would be found insane. But this is what poetry should be doing, putting this kind of material into rational form."
- "This selection, which includes poems from all stages of his career and translates them into a suitably American grain, opens the border wider: American readers now have direct entry into one of the most cheering and distinctive regions of the contemporary poetic imagination."
- "Sorescu has the ability to say, once or twice in a poem--though God knows even once is enough--something that causes a transfiguration of the whole piece. That one moment, which changes everything, if it were to be severed or disentangled from the rest, might actually seem somewhat slight--but in context, surrounded by that strange, oddly prosaic or matter-of-fact voice, it causes something miraculous to take place."
The other poems on Edutarian.
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