Ana Blandiana, (b. 1942 Timisoara), is an almost legendary figure who, in Romanian culture, holds a position comparable to that of Anna Akhmatova in Russian literature and Vaclav Havel in the Czech. She has published fifteen books of poetry, two volumes of short stories, seven books of essays, and one novel. Her work has been translated into twenty-seven languages. In 1990, she was co-founder and President of the Civic Alliance, an independent organisation that fought for civil rights and brought democratic change. She also re-founded and became President of the Romanian PEN Club, and in 1993, under the aegis of the European Community, she created the Memorial for the Victims of Communism. In recognition of her contribution to European culture and her valiant fight for human rights, Blandiana was awarded the highest distinction of the French Republic, the Légion d’Honneur (2009). The US State Department distinguished her with the Romanian Women of Courage Award (2014). She is the recipient of three doctor honoris causa and numerous international literary awards, the most recent being the European Poet of Freedom Prize (2016), which she received in Gdansk, the Polish city of freedom and birthplace of Solidarnosc, for her book of poems My Native Land A4.
The two poems presented here belong to The Sun of Hereafter (2000) & Ebb of the Senses (2004) published by Bloodaxe this year. The books marked a turning point in her career and paved the way towards her idea of poetry as the only homeland of the exiled poet, best illustrated in My Native Land A4 (2010). Blandiana shares Pound’s interest in the metaphysics of light, the neo-Platonic belief that existence is rooted in mystery. In his old age Pound realized that “The gods have not returned: ‘They have never left us.’/ They have not returned” (113/ 807) – Blandiana’s poetic universe shares this sense of a world inhabited by gods and predicated on a cyclical conception of time.
Find the book here.
ANA BLANDIANA, 2017
Soarele de apoi (2000)
Vino, tras de delfini,
Cu cithera în mâini,
Printre valuri mereu călătoare
Venind să contemple
Zeul unor altare
Cu statui şi stăpâni
Şi cu oase, uscate la soare, de temple.
Vino lin, lunecând printre morţii de piatră
Ferecaţi în muzee, fără milă-admiraţi,
Pe când greul pământului de sub marmure latră
Vino, Doamne, să vezi poezia săracă
Şi poeţii căzuţi sub istorie blestem,
Vino, gol şi frumos, şi de ţi-e frig, îmbracă
Haina strâmtă-a acestui poem.
From The Sun of Hereafter (2000)
Return, drawn by dolphins to this strand,
Cradling the cither in your hands,
Lapped by the ever-moving waves that come
To contemplate the god
Of these altars
With statues and masters
And with bones of temples, burnt by the sun.
Come softly. Steal in among the stony dead
Entrapped in museums, and admired without piety,
While the earth’s weight barks out symmetries
Of meters forgotten, beneath these marble heads.
O Lord, come witness the poetry impoverished
And poets fallen under history’s implacable curse.
Beautiful and naked, come. And should you shiver
With the cold, take on the narrow clothing of this verse.
Refluxul sensurilor (2004)
M-am gândit la ea relativ des
Şi la vârste diferite,
Fără spaimă, fără mândrie,
Nici eroism, nici păcat.
De o lumină
Atât de greu de definit
Pentru că singură există
Fără început şi fără sfârşit.
Şi totul se naşte din ea,
Pentru că numai ea, cea eternă,
Ştie să păstreze eterna sămânţă
Întinzându-mă de bună voie
From Ebb of the Senses (2004)
I have pondered it a lot,
And at different ages,
Without any fear, without any pride,
Without any shame
Or bravery or sin.
The sudden approach
Of a light
That is so hard to define
Because it exists alone
With no beginning or end.
And everything is born of it,
Because it only, the eternal,
Is able to preserve the eternal seed
By sowing me,
Scattering me freely
Over the earth.
Translated by Paul Scott Derrick and Viorica Patea