Friday, June 5, 2015

Everything Transforms (Lucian Mănăilescu)

Everything Transforms

It's all a game of quanta and atoms ---
we know but can never really explain,
because the waters, flowing, change to clouds,
and mountains, waiting, weather to a plain.

Butterflies perish in heaps of colors,
the stars decay to a dust of starlight,
people burst into flames of snowfall,
blanketing an unreal world in white.

But the very dream that fashions empires,
the very thought that struck the tongue dumb,
how we felt and what we were --- no one knows,
nor can imagine what change will come.

Lucian Mănăilescu
(my translation -- original in the comments)


  1. Totul se transformă

    E-un joc de molecule şi atomi
    pe care-l ştim, dar nu-l putem pricepe,
    căci apele, curgând, se schimbă-n nori
    iar munţii, aşteptând, se schimbă-n stepe.

    Pier fluturii-n noianul de culori,
    stele decad în pulberea astrală,
    oamenii ard în flăcări de ninsori
    înzăpezind o lume ireală.

    Şi numai visul, plăsmuind imperii,
    şi numai gândul, ce-a murit pe limbă,
    şi numai c-am simţit şi că am fost
    nu ştim, nu bănuim, în ce se schimbă.


  2. Excellent translation, James! I don't know the original, of course, but it comes off in English as a fine poem, with a truly special poetic sense.

    1. WAS thank you! i like the poem, too ... it seems to me a very poetic thought, that the world we perceive is more or less a constructed consensus that isn't necessarily very much like the game of matter and energy that underlies it all and drives transformation. noumena vs. phenomena, of course, and a contemporary version of nature as "a spume that plays / upon a ghostly paradigm of things" ...



    what an amazing photo this is!!!!!!!!!!!!!! is this your window? and the butterfly came to sit at your window? it seems one with the delicate grid, an embroidery, a fantasy almost...

    and a poem from a romanian poet i haven't even heard about!!! what a surprise this is! :-)

    i am dashing this off in surprise, i will come later to say more, after i read the texts carefully...

    1. Roxana: :-))

      i felt very lucky to get this photo!!! the light was so precise that one sees the grid through the butterfly's wings, as if it is illustrating something about an orderliness that underlies appearances, like the game of molecules and atoms in the poem

      i had not known the poem or ever heard of Lucian Mănăilescu, either ... but i receive the email newsletter from a translation workshop at the University of Bucharest, and this poem was included there, with a student's translation that i did not like very much (very plain and literal). it is a nice little poem, but i don't know if i would have translated it, without having the photo ... the newsletter came to my inbox at just about the same moment when i took the photo, so the coincidence was too much to ignore :-)