George Bacovia  (1881-1957)

 

George Bacovia (born George Vasiliu in 1881 in Bacău, Romania) was the son of a shopkeeper.  Educated as a lawyer, he spent his life in his hometown and in Bucharest where he held several positions as a minor clerk.  Born into the Romantic tradition bequeathed to Romanian poets by Mihai Eminescu, Bacovia broke from that mold and, with surreal portraits of life's terrors and terribleness, bridged the gap from the Romantics to a new, and distinctly Romanian, modern poetry.  After a life spent largely in ill health, Bacovia died in Bucharest in 1957 at the age of 75. 

 

Scroll down to read these Bacovia poems translated by JoAnne Growney and Radu Doru Cosmin.:

 

Monosilab de toamnă / Monosyllables of Autumn

Strigoii / The Ghosts

Marş funebru / Funeral March

Pantofii / Shoes

 

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Monosilab de toamnă

 

Toamna sună-n geam frunze de metal,

Vnt.

n tăcerea grea, gnd şi animal

Frnt.

 

n odaie, trist sună lemnul mut:

Poc.

Umbre mprejur ntr-un gol, tăcut,

Loc.

 

n van peste foi, singur, un condei

Frec.

Lampa plnge... anii tăi, anii mei

Trec.

 

Să mă las pe pat, ochii să-i nchid,

Pot.

n curnd, ncet va cădea n vid

Tot.

 

O, va fi cndva altfel natural,

Bis.

Toamna sună-n geam frunze de metal,

Vis.

 

 

Monosyllables of Autumn

 

Autumn strikes my window with metal leaves,

wind.

Unbearable silence, a thought, an animal:

tired.

 

In my room the silent floor snaps:

crack!

Shadows jump all over the empty, silent

place.

 

I try to write.  In vain.

Scratch.

The lamp shudders.  My years and yours

pass.

 

Should I lie on the bed?  Close my eyes?

Chance.

Hope will slowly fall into emptiness

all.

 

Will times ever be normal?

Bis.

Autumn strikes the window with metal leaves.

Dream.

 

 

Strigoii

 

Cu roşii fanare, galbene, verzi

Trec noaptea strigoii prin lanuri de gru

Şi cinii spre lanuri n noapte tot bat

Strigoii la crşmă n pod au intrat,

Şi podul se vede bizar luminat

De roşii fanare, galbene, verzi.

 

Strigoii, din pod, şi iau napoi,

Lăsate din viaţă, demult, amanete...

Aşa spune basmul ce azi l-am uitat

Că noaptea, la crşmă, apar siluete

Cu roşii fanare, galbene, verzi.

 

Dar cnd despre ziuă cocoşu-a cntat,

Cad buzna, din pod, grămezi de strigoi

Şi-n hău, peste lanuri, strigoii se pierd

Roşii, galbeni şi verzi.

 

 

The Ghosts

 

With lamps of red, yellow, and green

night ghosts pass through fields of grain.

Dogs bark at the black fields.

Ghosts flow into the attic of the inn,

the attic is lit extravagantly

by red lamps, yellow ones, and green.

 

From the attic the ghosts reclaim

hostages from the times of their lives.

A story I forgot tells how

in the attic night, silhouettes appear

with red lamps and yellow and green.

 

Then, in the dawn, when the cock sings,

a gathering of ghosts falls from the attic.

Across the fields these ghosts are lost

in red and yellow and green.

 

Marş funebru

 

Ningea bogat, şi trist ningea; era trziu

Cnd m-a oprit, n drum, la geam clavirul;

Şi-am plns la geam, şi m-a cuprins delirul

Amar, prin noapte vntul fluiera pustiu.

 

Un larg şi gol salon vedeam prin draperii,

Iar la clavir o brună despletită

Cnta purtnd o mantie cernită,

Şi trist cnta, gemnd ntre făclii.

 

Lugubrul marş al lui Chopin

l repeta cu nebunie...

Şi-n geam suna funebra melodie,

Iar vntul fluiera ca ţipătul de tren.

 

Apoi, veni şi-o blondă n salon...

Şi-aproape goală prinse, adormită,

De pe clavir, o scripcă nnegrita

Şi urmări, pierdută, marşul monoton.

 

naltă, despletită, albă ca de var,

Mi se părea Ofelia nebună...

Şi lung gemea arcuşu-acum pe strună

ngrozitorul marş lugubru, funerar.

 

Cntau amar, era delir,

Plngea clavirul trist, şi violina

Făcliile şi tremurau lumina,

Clavirul catafalc părea, şi nu clavir.

 

Trziu, murea clavirul lung gemnd;

Luptau făcliile n agonie...

Şi-ncet se-ntinse-o noapte de vecie,

Şi-n urmă, greu, un corp am auzit căznd.

 

Vai, de-atunci mi pare lumea şi mai tristă.

Viaţa-i melodie funerară...

Şi nu mai uit nebuna lăutară

Şi transfigurata, trista claviristă.

 

Funeral March

 

Snow was falling; the hour was sad and late;

Piano music stopped me by the window.

While the wind whistled;

I began to cry, to groan.

 

Through curtains I saw a drawing room

At the piano a blowzy dark-haired girl

in a mourning cape.  Her sad song

floated between flaming candles:

 

Chopin's dismal "Funeral March.''

Spellbound, she played it over and over. 

The song came through the closed window

while the wind wept the wail of a train.

 

A pale girl entered the room. 

Undressed and weary,

she lifted from the piano a black violin

and joined the tiresome march.

 

With loose, tousled hair, pale as lime,

she resembled mad Ophelia. 

Under her bow the strings moaned

the mournful funeral march.

 

As the two sang their pain,

the piano and the violin joined their weeping. 

The candles flickered.  On the piano

I saw a corpse laid out.

 

In a burst of agony, the piano died.

The candles sputtered and went out.

In gathering darkness

I heard a body fall.

 

The world's gloom has grown.

I cannot forget the mad fiddler

and the sad piano player. 

Life is a funeral song.

 

 

Pantofii

 

Pantofi de aur, expuşi n vitrină,

Veţi sta sub dantele, n nopţi de baluri,

Şi-n ale valsului leneşe valuri

Veţi rde prin săli, potop de lumină.

 

Pe trist catafalc, cu tristă regină,

Veţi sta n piciorul de gheaţă, şi sfnt,

Şi-n trecerea vremii veţi arde-n mormnt,

Pantofi de aur, expuşi n vitrină...

 

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Shoes

 

Golden shop-window shoes

you will spend your days beneath lace dresses,

your nights in the indolent waves of the waltz.

Flood-lit ballrooms will hold your laughter.

 

You will dress the icy feet

of the sainted queen, sad in her coffin.

In time, a grave will destroy you

golden shop-window shoes.

 

 

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