Mihai Ursachi

MYOSOTIS (tr. Adam J Sorkin and Georgiana Farnoaga)

In armor of gold - conquistadors of blue skies:
roses on their shoulders, a burden of roses in their arms,
and myosotis, the blue, blue eyes
of Mnemosyne. Millions of leagues away,
dream-lost, the realm drowned in time.

We remember a life that was ours; we lived
in eyes deep and blue, far from everything.
"In blue flames, in blue flames..."
On what a mad crusade we set forth. Isolde, Isolde,
my sword is a lily, my armor

a maiden's veil. And, oh, so far away,
the bird of good omen announces
a violet pyre, endlessness. "This plant grows
at the bottom of the ocean. Its thorns, its leaves
endow you with eternal life."

In love without end...


Surely it's fitting that the Sea be scourged.
For her innumerable sins,
which are many more than her waves
(in fact, multiplied to the thousandth power).
The point is, like any whore,
the Sea is unrestrained
and needs to be put under saddle and harness,
to be fettered upon the conjugal bed,
to be tried in judgment by the Minor Proof and the Major Prrof
(not neglecting Trial by Water),
thus to obtain her full confession
so she may be redeemed by fire.
(Hence, straight upon the pyre).

FORELLA - A LEGEND (tr. Adam J Sorkin and Doru Motz)

In the Forests of Desolation, I had lost my way; the fogs,
thick black veils, weighed heavily, the mountains crouched low -
sick, blind monsters prophesying a wasteland of solitude.
There I saw Forella's face. A blessed light
descended upon this place of oblivion, on the shore of the clear cool water,
the heavens as deep as the water, like a whirlpool
of skies from other worlds. And it seemed that in the water
the icon shone reflected, eternally lost...
She appeared on the shore of the water where she had bathed,
and her hair, cascading down to her ankles, like a shower of gold,
almost drowned her gaze. Her delicate hand
held her gathered hair, like a child at play
in the flowing tide. Beside her stood the Fisherman.

...And stunned I fell upon the familiar slab of stone,
that the icon be extinguished from my eyes. All around me
the mountains loomed, sullen witnesses, gloomy fogs
forever impenetrable, upon the water which flows
through the Forests of Desolation.

Mihai Ursachi was Romania's Nobel Prize nominee in literature in 2001. Having defected from Romania to the US in 1981 after previously enduring imprisoned and solitary confinement for an earlier escape attempt, he returned after the December 1989 revolution and, in 1992, was awarded the first national Mihai Eminescu Poetry Prize since World War II. Adam J Sorkin has published 17 books in translation, most recently "Singular Destinies: Contemporary Poets from Bessarabia (2003). Bloodaxe will publish Marin Sorecu's deathbed book of poems, "The Bridge." His translations have appeared widely in American literary magazines.


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