Sweet ephebe, dear good friend,
shall I compare thee to what?
There’s nothing to be measured against your cleanly beauty
and no filly
could in any way compete with you. That’s why I find
to be around you
while all you do is loaf in your own world
laughing and waving those fingers lightly
as if playing an invisible syrinx oh so good to seek. You pamper yourself
and then stare in the air just
like a smooth statue; you start to dance in the half light
all by yourself, like a… cynaedus
or a bird in love.
You can’t be touched by either men or women
and everything around you feels so rude.
I watch you with a thoughtless mind
just as one day I watched the pure
and mild concupiscence of a plant bearing
a name so funny, and yet so ethereal –
the femininely virile cypripedium
lost somewhere in a flower
Dance, my dear friend! A stroboscope
divides you like a ghost. That is your beauty
manifold (an 18-year old – I keep recalling – Shiva).
You’ll be away tomorrow.
Your long and fragrant hair will pile up on some grimy concrete floor
your locks will meet a barber’s greasy hand
some brutish drill instructor will surely give you hell,
some old doctor will take time weighing,
groping you on the sly,
some stocky soldiers will tap you on the shoulder.
They’ll drill you
almost kill you,
you, lazy one, will learn about virtus and labor.
They’ll make a man out of you and then
you’ll be chased by Priapus in the fall of his life
and by stupid languid wives…
Now you look like a dancing shadow
a filigree hidden in a Fauvist painting.
I would just wrap you up in a song
and forget you.
Let me think of you as the boy who
on a smoky day was reading much too serenely
while a distant bossa nova rhythm was playing
something by Charles d’Orléans
(“Le monde est ennuyé de moy
Et moy pareillement lui”
well, who knows?)
Dear good friend,
neither boy nor girl,
whom I lock in my mind
to stare at you
at your pure beauty
thoughtless as if in a flower shop window.
In a mute, convoluted song I’d wrap you up
and thus forget you.
Translated by MARGENTO
EFEB CU CYPRIPEDIUM
Dulce efeb, bunul meu prieten,
cu ce să te asemăn?
Nimic nu se măsoară cu frumuseţea ta curată
şi nu există fată
cu tine să se-ntreacă. De-aceea caut
în preajma ta să fiu
în timp ce tu petreci în lumea ta
râzând, mişcând din degete uşor de parcă
ai mânui un syrinx invizibil. Te-alinţi,
apoi priveşti în gol precum
o netedă statuie; şi-apoi dansezi în clarobscur
tu singur, ca un… cined
sau ca o pasăre îndrăgostită.
Femeia şi bărbatul nu pot să te atingă
şi tot-n jurul tău e bădăran.
Mă uit la tine fără gânduri
aşa cum într-o zi privit-am
concupiscenţa pură, delicat-a unei plante
cu nume caraghios şi în acelaşi timp suav,
la feminin-virila cypripedium
pierdută undeva într-o vitrină
Dansează, prieten drag! Un stroboscop
te-mparte fantomatic. E frumuseţea ta
multiplă (un Shiva – tot îmi veni în minte – de opşpe ani).
şi mâine vei pleca.
Părul tău lung, parfumat, va zace pe-un mizer ciment,
coama ta va cunoaşte mâna murdară, grăsoasă, a unui frizer,
vreo brută ofiţerească te va slei-n comenzi,
îndelung vreun doctor bătrân te va cântări,
te va atinge în treacăt,
soldăţoi îndesaţi te vor bate pe umăr.
Te vor alerga şi
ca pe-o ridiche te vor freca.
Tu, lazy, învăţa-vei pe virtus şi labor.
Bărbat or să scoată din tine şi-apoi
târcoale-ţi vor da şi Priapul tomnatec,
şi proastă femeia, molatec…
Acum îmi pari, dansând, o umbră
filigranată într-un tablou fovist.
Aş vrea să te-nconjor c-un cântec
şi să te uit.
Să mă gândesc la tine ca la băiatul care
într-o zi fumurie prea-liniştit citea
pe-un ritm îndepărtat de bossa-nova
Pe Charles d’Orleans
(“Le monde est ennuye de moy
Et moy pareillement de lui”
nici fată, nici băiat,
aşa te-nchid în mintea mea
şi mă holbez la tine
la frumuseţea ta curată
fără gânduri ca dup-un geam de florărie.
C-un cântec mut, sofisticat, aş vrea să te-nconjor
şi să te uit.
This translation of Simona Popescu’s “Efeb cu cypripedium” has been included in Moods & Women & Men & Once Again Moods. An Anthology of Contemporary Erotic Romanian Poetry, edited by Ruxandra Cesereanu—Tracus Arte Press (Romania) and Calypso Editions (USA)—to be released in North America in early fall 2016.
Simona Popescu teaches contemporary Romanian literature and creative writing at the University of Bucharest. She is author of five collections of poems, one novel, and three volumes of essays, including two books on surrealist classic Gellu Naum; in 2008 she also coordinated a collective novel she wrote together with 28 other young writers. When once trying to answer the question of what is poetry she started working on a poem on poets and writing which ended up as a 325-page-long book of reflections on/and/as poetry titled Lucrări în verde. Pledoaria mea pentru poezie (Works in Green. My Defense of Poetry); there she wrote of poetry as a strange fish among fishes, poetry as a mode of existence, and the patient attempts one has to make to speak of such things.
MARGENTO (Chris Tănăsescu) is a poet, performer, academic, and translator who has lectured, launched books, and performed in the US, SE Asia, Australia, and Europe. His pen-name is also the name of his multimedia cross-artform band that won a number of major awards and was invited to open the 1st Euro Poetry Slam Festival (Berlin, 2009) and to perform at the World Electronic Poetry Conference (Kingston U, UK, 2013). His recent work has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, you were here, Belas Infieis, and Experiment-O, among other places, while he continues his work on the graph poem project together with Diana Inkpen at University of Ottawa. MARGENTO is Romania & Moldova Editor-at-Large for Asymptote.