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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Poem of the Week: “Rugă / Prayer” by Ileana Mălăncioiu

In today’s selection for National Translation Month, we are featuring a Romanian poem by Ileana Mălăncioiu, translated by Irish poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin in her collection titled Legend of the Walled-Up Wife. As Ní Chuilleanáin writes in the preface to the book, “Mălăncioiu’s writing is valued in Romania as a moral force. A courageous critic of the former political masters of her country, she has also been forthright in her responses to the new order. To read through the poems published under Ceaușescu is to be astonished both at what she succeeded in publishing, and at her survival.” Ní Chuilleanáin offers a fairly faithful translation, with the only caveat being that she “wished to reflect the colloquial fluency of [Mălăncioiu’s] poems by offering versions which might be consonant with an ordinary Irish speaking voice.”


Pe regale Oedip îl ducea de mînă fiica sa Antigona,
Pe Regele Lear, Cordelia, cea alungată
Din împărăția lui că un l-ar iubit îndeajuns,
Pe tine aș putea să te duc eu, tată,

Pe mine nu știu dacă se va găsi cineva
Să mă-nsoțească-n momentul acela oribil
Ȋn care ochiului meu i se va ascunde totul,
Pe noi toți știu bine că va fi imposibil

O, Doamne, nu orbi tot neamul meu deodată,
Ia-ne din doi în doi și mai amînă
Sfîrșitul tragediei, lasă-i la fiecare
Pe cineva să-l ducă-ncet de mînă.


King Oedipus had his daughter Antigone to lead him by the hand,
King Lear had his Cordelia that he banished
Out of his kingdom for not loving him enough,
And you, father, I would be able to lead you,

But for myself I do not know if one will be found
To bear me company in the dreadful time
When everything will be hidden from my eyes,
I know it will not be possible for us all

O Lord, do not blind all of my people at once,
Allow us to go two by two, postpone
The last scene of the tragedy, let each one
Lead one other slowly by the hand.

–Ileana Mălăncioiu, translated by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, from Legend of the Walled-Up Wife (2012)

Antoni Brodowski - Oedipus and Antigone - Google Art Project.jpg

Oedipus and Antigone, by Antoni Brodowski (1828)

More about National Translation Month
NTM was founded in 2013 with three primary objectives: promoting translation scholarship, increasing translation prevalence in literary education, and promoting foreign language authors across cultures. NTM reminds readers of the increased literature accessibility and insight that translations offer. Translation expands cultural awareness and the field of literature in an increasingly global society. Read more on the National Translation Month website.

Categories: Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Poem of the WeekTags: , , ,

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