Monday, November 29, 2010

A poem by Nichita Stănescu in translation

"Stained Glass Window" is the English translation of the poem "Vitraliu" by Nichita Stănescu.

             Stained Glass Window

                                        by  Nichita Stanescu (1933-1983)

Your shadow, bumping into walls
breaks into colored shards again.
Oh, and this is why you’ve seen me in the street
picking up its squared stones.

To sew it back together inside the midnight hour
I’ll fold them gently over your window -
green, blue, yellow and red -
mounted on the helmet of  lead lines.

When you’ll awake, harlequins of colored glass
glued to panes, will filter the sun through their see-through skins,
and let it slide,
half-filled with rays, into your arms. 


Le poème "Vitraliu" (Vitrail) par Nichita Stănescu – traduit en français. 


                                       par   Nichita Stanescu (1933-1983)

Ton ombre, s’écrasant contre les murs
se gare de nouveau dans des petits tessons.
Oh, c’est la raison pour laquelle tu m’as vu
dans la rue ramassant des cailloux taillés en carreaux.

Je vais la refaire, tard dans la nuit
sur tes fenêtres, en les posant avec soin
verts, bleus, jaunes et rouges
en heaume, entre les grilles de plomb.

Quand tu te réveilleras, des arlequins en vitre colorié,
cloués aux hublots, vont filtrer à travers eux-mêmes
le soleil qui tombera dans tes bras,
à moitié plié, entre deux rayons.  


Translated by Irina© 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Six Reasons for Reading Poetry in Winter

1. A calligraphy of silence

Poetry is a form of art born out of stillness, a calligraphy of silence. Winter is a season of prolonged quietness & far-flung voids, a frozen expanse against which syllables take on a new resonance:

“And now that the moon who gives men glistening bodies
is in her exaltation, and can look down on the sun
I see descending from the ships at dawn
slim naked men from Cnossos, smiling their archaic smile
of those that without fail come back again”

from Middle of the World by D.H. Lawrence 

2. Melon hat, boa feathers and a rickety broom

Winter is a season of faint mystery – a mystery brought about by ice, hail and blizzards. Cold fosters eerie sensations. Stanzas are doors that open on empty rooms, whose inhabitants have long vacated the premises, leaving behind a melon hat, boa feathers and a rickety broom.

I awoke so far away
and strange,
wandering behind my face
as though I had hidden my feelings
in the senseless relief of the moon."

3. Moment’s forest 

If it’s true that spring is a season of exultation and budding love, then winter is the season of objectivity and clarity – a heart’s needle:

“I imagine this midnight moment’s forest.
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move”

4. Contrast

Contrast. Everything in winter is about contrast – every hue is a counterpoint to the snow’s  whiteness:

"What is this dark and silent caravan
that being nowhere, neither comes nor goes;
that being never, has no hour or span;
of which we can say only that it flows? "

5. A blue egg is laid

Winter is a season of dull hypocrisy: we are hardly at ease, hardly ever ourselves, quaint animals tucked away  inside a shell of gloves, scarves, boots and jackets.

"…Solitude! the blue egg laid by a great sea-bird, and the bays at morning all littered with gold lemons! – Yesterday it was! The bird had taken off!"

from Anabasis by Saint-John Perse 

6. The describable season
Winter is a describable season, whose tenets are easy to nail down. Autumn -  diffuse, sonorous and glittery -  makes for a complex slithering  into melancholy. Winter is the simple, straight-forward season par excellence:

"The sun is spent, and now his flasks
    Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
            The world's whole sap is sunk ;
The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr'd ; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph."

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Everyday Mythistorema - A Marble Head

George Seferis’ Mythistorema is a cycle of twenty-four poems, whose title could be translated as “novel. “

The poems form an expedition inside a Helladic, archetypal universe on the outskirts of promontories, archipelagoes and arid landscapes haunted by mythical projections: heroes of happenings that might have taken place, somewhere, sometime, in our collective memory.

As is the case with great poetry there is no need to be familiar with the cultural context that lurks beneath the surface, in order to take in the enigmatic air of Seferis’ poetry. 
Its white, incantatory beauty reaches us directly:

         “I woke with this marble head in my hands:
         it exhausts my elbows and I don’t know where to put it
         It was falling into the dream and I was coming out of the
         so our life became one and it will be very difficult for it to
         separate again.”

The article “Love and the Symbolic Journey in Seferis’ Mythistorema” by C. Capri-Karka
makes for a every enjoyable annotation to the cycle of poems whose full version can be found here.

The translated "Complete Poems" which includes Mythistorema  is a book of afterglows:

“There, you see, at last I love these mountains with this light
their skin wrinkled like an elephant’s belly
when his eyes shrink with age”

(From "Fine Autumn Morning")

Friday, November 19, 2010

Auto-fiction & the Art of the Novel: Nicolas Fargues

 The French writer Nicolas Fargues, born in 1972, is the author of several  novels (Demain si vous le voulez bien, Le tour du propriétaire, Rade terminus, One Man Show, J’étais derrière toi, Beau rôle, Le roman de l’été). 

His novels continue to be in the limelight of literary rentrées, and to be popular with readers at home and abroad.


The novel "I Was Behind You" (J’étais derrière toi), published in English by Pushkin Press,  is a page turner. 

Awarded the Saint Valentin prize in  2007, the novel can be described as, its author suggests in an interview posted on Youtube, an exercise in auto- fiction



Beyond any literary cataloguing however, this is a prose into which a reader
ventures forth with confidence, within a myriad of thoughts and gestures, narrated with gusto and masked sincerity.

The novel is an X-ray of the dissolution of a couple adrift, whose raw turbulence we witness first hand.

The tone of the novel is that of an incessant confession – a mimed dialogue between writer and reader:

“ In a way, this has also been, more or less,  my issue with women, my issue with the others, in general: to make recurrent amends in order to hide my lack of feelings.”
(page 127 from the French paperback).

“After by behavior with Alexandrine - the little adulterous husband – even if I take great care to not promise her anything, I sometimes feel as if I’m a cartoon character, a depressive fellow, the married lover who cannot make up his mind.”
(page 162, ibidem).

The dynamics of the couple, interesting and unpredictable in its predictable evolution reminded me of the novel "The Leash" (La laisse) by Françoise Sagan: the same vaporous escaping of a somewhat tormented male from a conjugal mechanism sans issue.  

In "The Leash" the couple’s disarray is depicted in a much more light-hearted manner than in "I Was Behind You", but both novels display a somewhat similar abhorrence of profound feelings – an  common literary reflex if you will:  irony and lucidity stifle any potential propensity for drama.

"I Was Behind You", I am convinced, will continue to summon numerous readers around it, who will  continue to discuss Nicolas Fargues’ writing with enthusiasm.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


"Chantre" (Cantor) is a one-line poem by Guillaume Apollinaire.

The poem is part of the volume Alcohols; it makes for an interesting poetic counterpoint inside the expanse of a page.

 "Chantre" (Cantor) is also one of the shortest poems in French.

Here is its translation:


And the singular string of marine trumpets


Et l'unique cordeau des trompettes marines  

Monday, November 15, 2010

An Article on Luca's Monumental Painting in "Niagara This Week"

Another article on "Reverberations", the monumental painting created by Bogdan Luca - a painting that is now installed at Brock University, Ontario, Canada.

The article, signed by  Rebecca Mattina, has appeared in "Niagara This Week" on November 15th:

We have followed along in the creation of "Reverberations" on this -->blog.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Reverberations" by Bogdan Luca- Inaugurated at Brock University, Ontario, Canada

Bodgan Luca's monumental painting - "Reverberations" - whose genesis we have followed here - was inaugurated at Brock University. 

An article and an interesting video clip about this event have appeared in  The St. Catherines Standard: 

                         "Reverberations" by Bogdan Luca - a detail

More on the creation of this work of art here:

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