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LIDIA VIANU

Lidia Vianu is Professor of English contemporary literature at the University of Bucharest.†She has twice been Fulbright lecturer in Comparative Literature in the United States: at the State University of New York, Binghamton, NY, and the University of California, Berkeley. 

 

She is also a poet, novelist, critic, and translator, who has published five books of literary criticism: Modern Lyrical Scenarios; T.S. Eliot Ė An Author for All Seasons; British Desperadoes at the Turn of the Millennium; Alan Brownjohn and the Desperado Age; and The Desperado Age. Censorship in Romania, a book of interviews, was published by European University Press in 1997.

 

She has written one novel, Prisoner in the Mirror, and three poetry collections: 1, 2, 3 Moderato 7,  and Very. Her editing work includes six anthologies of British and American literature and criticism, and she has translated works into both Romanian and English. Her translations with Adam J. Sorkin have appeared widely. She has been awarded a grant from the Soros Foundation. 

 

In 2005 she won jointly with Adam J SorkinIn the Corneliu M Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation, for their translation of The Bridge by the eminent and widely respected Romanian poet Marin Sorescu.

Her book British Desperadoes (which examines British writers) has been published by LiterNet.

 

NO

Do not bother trouble unless trouble bothers you
spring is coming down Painter Romano street
I miss you but not Bucharest and not Romania
behind which window did you stare out into the street
through the door ajar the stairs mount to nowhere
today is today
of course it can no longer be yesterday
will you ever help me to find out what was
no
do not bother trouble unless trouble bothers you
even though it is spring here today 
sunny too
when the sky is clear our long past expectations
migrate to the sea
if any window were open you might put your head out
what would you feel
finding yourself in Bucharest
prisoner of the house you lived in
through what
unknown
it is getting dark the streets are deserted
you will not come tonight it is too late anyway
to come
anxiety has been so restless lately
expectation is dumb too
do not bother trouble unless trouble bothers you


LIFE AND DEATH

For the better for the worse
the life line in your palm is long
to keep away from my anxiety
we could hide in Alaska for a while
avoid yourself 
step over the border of your mind
dream that the past is only beginning tomorrow
tonight there is only the Garden of the Icon
the saints are watching us around it
an endless beginning haunts me
why do you make so much light all around
yesterday today powerlessness squeezes
my thought around you shows an only outline
if you stand your eyes are in the sun
seated by me you are heavy gloom
I cannot help looking for you
with whom why better
stay with me forever
the world has been split into two
before I had the time to hold it whole
it pours with what might have been yet is not
you are soaked in my memories
I just protect your eyes with my closed lids
it is evening in the Garden of the Icon I see what I want to see
you leave with my palms on your temples and face and breath
how very beyond you run away from either life or death


NEVER SAY NEVER

Plans are not my forte
you had better take me unawares
my long wait flutters around you
it has been impatient forever
till sometime the way is unknown
your aim is different from what I expected
I feel like calling you never
to gather the shadows filing by your window
explain them to me each in turn
path by path the world you scoured
who taught you remoteness
who else has seen you facing up to no
till you are yourself nothing stops you
spread tomorrow over always
imagination grows yet cannot hold you
never say never
even though the phone has stopped ringing
the mailbox is always empty
I guess nothing can be changed any more
I shall do as you said
Iíll take a huge sheet of paper
wrap the past into it
write future on top
and send it to you as a registered letter
I miss your letters as they used to come
you will receive a never which will never
be never


I KNOW IT IS HARD OVER THERE

There are unfair words in this world
small humiliations have such a lot of names
you wore for a while the garb of one who does not hurt
when you cast it off I failed to recognize you
you caught me without shield and armour
lost in the simple joy of hearing you
if you had rehearsed that part once at least
you might have rewritten it with calmer words
you would have declaimed it in your costume of thirty years ago
when words like buds
opened stealthily
hesitantly came my way
you have acquired so much determination in the meanwhile
whom am I still looking for in your disguises
you must certainly still be in the you of yore
with more long nights at your bedside
I am uselessly groping my way among scenery
flocks of warm bird thoughts could not make me forget
the mere indifferent cheap sentence you wear
I know it is hard over there


IT IS UP TO YOU

It started all over again like a whirlwind drawing everything into it
I am only thoughtless with you so you wrote
you must have known yourself so well
you have decided for me too
I am trying in vain to escape the tempest
your moods lightning thunderbolt
paper hurricane
sinking in your writing head 
I have slipped out of my living skin
here I am in the past
like a surgeon you ask 
help me
you cut the scar through which I drip
it will not heal this second time
you wet the troublesome wound with acid rain
you unfurl a cloth and press it your eyes on the watch
how much have we left
operations on the soul are exhausting
no wonder you are so busy
your hand is steady when you cut open
but do not lift the sheet
it feels uneasy to learn the patient has vanished
into his own or your whirlwind of dreams
the doors of your mind are all open
accept me to take the guiding contest too
remind me I have forgotten it is up to you


SO THAT YOU MAY OR I MAY COME IN

My thoughts are clear today
all that I can do is remember
I passed by the apartment house where we could have lived
we could have opened one of the doors
even if neither of us had come for good
we would have tried to guess what we were leaving behind
what we gathered in thirty years
the thread of imagination is broken
fancy fails to bring you
it is unwise to start what you cannot stop
once you have entered a room in your mind
you are trapped
on purpose by chance
by the one who inhabits it day in day out
in Bucharest or close to the seashore
imagination for two spells danger
you are left with a wound if you tear away
life in two is less complicated
you touch the doorknob
go in
go out
both at once sometimes
and yet we may love as deeply as believing
with just enough room for sin
so that you may or I may come in


LOSE CONTROL OF MY EMOTIONS

My soul is full of you right now
I canít believe you found me by chance
that you would have taken anyone just the same
and would have withdrawn into silence
inscrutable indomitable departure
after you had opened up and come close
frail flame
how I wish you would keep talking
spoiling words cut short
no trespassing
the train of emotions whistles by
I daydream
we imagine in turn and yet at once
we wake up at the same minute
condemned in vain to isolation
the inner watch has its own reasons
however determined to take refuge in forgetfulness you may be
how I wish you would keep talking
as I talk to you every minute
climb onto the wing of a dream long ago
pull the cord
inciting sensibility is a blessing
you can make waiting into weapon
stubborn hope has no thoughts
lose control of yourself and flow
our emotions would follow

 

 

 

 


copyright © Lidia Vianu