It's been 10 months since the last entry, which can only mean that:
1) I am in no way, shape, or form a proper Blogger;
2) I've really missed this place! Really!
I had this ambition to pursue a different, "life" blog on the side, but that went the way of "Saturday's water," to quote the brilliant yet now seemingly defunct Mintrubbing.org. Life sorta....kinda...got in the way. I finished and defended my dissertation and got my Ph.D. (no, not in poetry nor in translation, but in - are you ready for this?- rhetoric); and later on I got a job and spent the past 3+ months teaching freshman comp, in a 4/4 load non-TT job at a university whose chief virtue is that it is located 20 minutes away from my house (10' by bus, 10' on foot). I'm writing this with a 3-ft high stack of papers still needing to be graded next to me, so it seems like just about the right time, no? So...that kept me relatively busy.
But enough of that: this is not a personal blog in THAT way, although of course it's highly personal in every other way, if you consider that each selection posted here speaks to me and reflects me, at least at this particular juncture in time.
I've decided to make my comeback with a song I've often hummed under my breath, by my beloved Andries, "Zile egale," which can be translated by "Equal" or "Even Days." I'm still torn which to choose. "Equal" is the literal and quite correct translation of "egal," "even" has that implication of flatness, levelness, and steadiness, of routine, if you will, which is also the meaning here; however, I'm not sure that this would be clear in English from the sole instance that the phrase appears in the song...
What I love in most of Andries's work is that feeling of "huh" that he leaves you with at the end, and he doesn't disappoint here, either; it's that mundane and mischievous side that keeps him from sliding into sentimental crap and keeps his lyrics a notch or 10 above other writers'.
The syntax is quite simple and I've sought to preserve it as much as I could (I can't help it, I am sort of a purist), even when it sounded a little forced in English, as in "Why, I don't know, I'm lonely so/I go..."--but when read, or better, sung with the right intonation, it makes sense, and it capitalizes on that inner rhyme he's so fond of here. I absolutely adore the final metaphor, the "equal/even" days whose burden creeps into his room, populating it with shadows and turning it into a little curiosity shop for his absent lover. It's as beautiful as it's unassuming and ending with the invitation to shop for "soul" souvenirs, I imagine.
Which brings me to my linguistic conundrum of the day: the Romanian for window display or shop window display is "vitrina," applicable also to any piece of furniture fitted with a glass display case in order to show off bibelots and various decorative objects. Much to my surprise, the word exists almost in the same form in English; I found this in the Merriam-Webster:
vi·trine [Pronunciation:\və-ˈtrēn\], noun. Etymology: French, from vitre pane of glass, from Old French, from Latin vitrum. Date: 1880. A glass showcase or cabinet especially for displaying fine wares or specimens
...which renders the meaning of "vitrina" quite beautifully, except perhaps for the commercial meaning extension it has acquired in Romanian (shop window). Also, "vitrina" is a fairly well-used word in Romanian, as one can imagine, whereas I dare you find handy contexts for the use of "vitrine" in English. (I've never heard it used at all, in fact). This led to my more mundane choice of "shop window" with the addition of "sign" for the rhyme, and whose insertion here I will defend on two accounts: 1) it rhymes better, duh (there's virtually no good rhyme for "window," did you know that?); 2) the shadowy play of the "traces" of the "equal days" points, indeed, to the making of an intricate sign of sorts (right?); 3) it doesn't change much of the meaning--right? right? (Ok, a little, but we can live with it!).
As all of Andries, this sounds better on music...I'll try to put the mp3 up one of these days!
de Alexandru Andrieş
Telefonul pentru mine e un duşman,
Îl ţin pe podea, ascuns după divan,
Pentru mine niciodată nu sună,
Şi cînd sună, nu-i zi bună,
Tu nu eşti la celălalt capăt...
De ce nu, nu ştiu, e-n jur pustiu
Şi-atunci la plimbare pe stradă ies !
Rareori mă salută cineva
Şi-asta doar dac-are nevoie de cîte ceva,
Eu cu toată lumea m-am purtat frumos
Dar lucrurile mi-au ieşit mereu pe dos,
Azi aş fi avut nevoie de tine,
Te-am sunat, te-am căutat, dar în zadar:
Încerc mîine iar!
Zile egale peste mine apasă,
Închid fereastra să nu intre-n casă,
Da' ele se strecoară prin geamul crăpat
Şi se-aşează peste tot, pe masă, pe pat,
Urma lor fină
Transformă camera mea în vitrină...
N-ai vrea să intri, să cumperi ceva ?
by de Alexandru Andrieş
The phone is an enemy to me,
I keep it under the bed, so I can’t see it,
It never rings for me, and when it rings
It’s only to tell me really bad things,
Really, it's true,
You’re not at the other end…
Why, I don’t know, I’m lonely so
I go outside to roam the streets…
People rarely say hello to me,
And only if they need me to do something for free
I have always been nice to everyone,
But my plans have always come undone,
Today I needed you so badly
I’ve been calling you and I’ve looked for you, in vain:
I’ll try tomorrow again…
Equal days are bearing down on me,
I’ve closed my window so they can’t get in,
But they creep inside through the broken frame
And they sit on my bed, on my desk, and they claim
Their traces so fine
Turn my room into a shop window sign…
Won’t you come in, buy something from me?