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Translations by Daniela Gioseffi from
On Prejudice: A Global Perspective

On Prejudice

Translations by Daniela Gioseffi from On Prejudice: A Global Perspective, a multicultural anthology of world literature ©1993 Daniela Gioseffi, Doubleday/AnchorBooks, NY. All rights reserved. ISBN# 1-884419-03-8. Toll free discount orders:Barnes & Noble 1-888-257-6397, or search Barnes and Noble or Amazon Books online by author.

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Anna Akhmatova | Marina Tsvetayeva |
Ileana Malancioiu | Carilda Oliver Labra


Anna Akhmatova of Russia:

THE FIRST LONG RANGE ARTILLERY FIRE ON LENINGRAD

A multi-colored crowd streaked about,
and suddenly all was totally changed.
It wasn't the usual city racket.
It came from a strange land.
True, it was akin to some random claps of thunder,
but natural thunder heralds the wetness of fresh water
high clouds
to quench the thirst of fields gone dry and parched,
a messenger of blessed rain,
but this was as dry as hell must be.
My distraught perception refused
to blieve it, because of the insane
suddenness with which it sounded, swelled and hit,
and how casually it came
to murder my child.

[Translation Copyright © 1993 by DanielaGioseffi. All rights reserved.]

MarinaTsvetayeva of Russia:

From: POEM OF THE END, Stanzas from#12:

Thick as a horse's mane,

rain in our eyes. Hills ahead.

We've passed the outskirts.

Now we're far from town. ....

 

Rain insanely tears at us.

We stand and part from each other.

In three months, we hope for

a few moments of sharing.

 

Outside! Comprehend? We're nationless!

That means we've passed the walls within.

Life's a place where it's forbidden

to live. Like the Hebrew quarter.

 

Isn't it more worthy to

become an eternal Jew?

Anyone not a viper

suffers the same pogrom.

 

Life's for converts only

Judases of all faiths.

Let's live on segragated, leprous islands,

or in hell, anywhere, only not

 

in a compromised life nurturing traitors,

among those who are sheep to butchers!

This passport which gives me the

right to live--I stamp. Under my feet.

 

Destroy as vengence for the star

of David. For heaps of corpses,

and their executioners (Toothsome!)saying,

"after all, the Jews didn't wantto live."

 

Ghetto of the resolute! Beyond this

ditch, no mercy abounds

in this most Christian of worlds,

all poets of truth are Jews!

[Translation Copyright © 1993 byDaniela Gioseffi. All rights reserved.]

IleanaMalancioiu of Romania:

Romanian writer and philospher., she received adoctorate in philosophy from Bucharest University and has worked for Romaniantelevision. She is an editor with the monthly literary magainze Viata Romaneasca.One of the most prolific of contemporary Romanian poets, she has publishednine volumes of poems since her first in l967. Born in the area of Argesin l940, she won the poetry prize of the Writers' Union in l970. This oneof her poems demonstrates an eternal theme through the use of an ancientstory. The mighty emperors and dictators carry on their bloody wars andmake the rules for all, while the lonely kin struggle to mourn and burytheir dead with dignity, and the people around them are too frightened orapathetic to change the horrors.

ANTIGONE

A frozen mound, white body of a dead man

fallen in hard battle and left above the Earth.

Hungry dogs come to bite the treacherous snow

and another winter comes, too, to take its bite.

Let a pure woman appear to break the command,

to wrench the forsaken body from the dogs

and hide it as a dear brother--

while those near her wash their hands of it

 

and allow her to be buried alive in the earth

clothed in unreal white,

for as the emperor lost his great battle

she wept and buried her frozen mound.

[Translation Copyright © by Daniela Gioseffi.All rights reserved.]

CARILDA OLIVER LABRA (b. 1922--) LATIN-AMERICAN CARIBBEAN : Born in Matanzas , Cuba, she taught for many years as a professor of FineArts in Havana. The coveted National Prize for poetry came to her in l950as a result of her popular and notorious book, At the South of MyThroat (Al sur de mi garganta) 1949. In honor of the tri-centennialof Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz ,in a contest sponsored by The Latin AmericanSociety in Washington D.C., in 1950, she received first place the same yearshe won the national Cuban First Prize. Her work was highly praised by NobelPrize Winners, Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda. Her debut collection,l943, Lyric Prelude (Preludio lirico) immediately establishedher as an important poetic voice, even before At the South of My Throat--made her famous. In 1958, she published Feverish Memory (Memoriade la fiebre) which added to her notoriety as a blatantly eroticpoet. Like Alexandra Kollantai of Russia, Emma Goldman of the U.S., GeorgeSand of England, or Simone de Beauvoir of France, she was a pioneer of woman'sindependence in her homeland and has emerged today as one of Cuba's leadingpoets. Carilda Oliver-Labra's other works include Song to the Flag(Canto a la Bandera, 1950); Song to Marti (Canto a Marti,1953); Song to Matanzas (Canto a Matanzas, 1956.) Today, inSpain a foundation offers the Carilda Oliver Prize for Poetry, and a documentaryof the poet's life has been produced and aired throghout Europe.

Some of these poems come from her first volume of poetry in American English, translated by Daniela Gioseffi with Enildo Garcia, with a foreword by Gregory Rabassa, Dust Disappiears (Cross Cultural Communications, Merrick, N.Y., ©1995 by the translators). In the foreword to DustDisappears, Gregory Rabassa, translator of Gabriel Garcia Marquezamong other Nobel Prize Winners, said: "A phenomenon that had its rootsin the poetical revolt called Modernism that took place in Spanish Americatoward the end of the century was the sudden appearance of a generationof women poets ( stemming from isolated figures, such as Sor Juan Ines dela Cruz of the 17th century) who, in any number of ways, formed a bridgeto the second revolt, that of prose, often referred to as "magic realism,"which came about at mid-century. ... Their new poetry was called poesiafemina, . In view of the events between their time and ours, today wecan correctly call it poesia feminista. The feminist movement hasits early counterparts in these poets of Latin America, where its aims were and still are sorely needed..

MY MOTHER YOU ARE IN A LETTER FROM MIAMI

My mother, you're only in a letter

and in an old scolding that I couldn't find;

stay here forever in the center

of a blooming rose that never dies.

 

My Mother, so far away, tired

of snow and mist. Wait, I'm coming

to bring you home to live with the sun insideyou,

My Mother, who lives in a letter.

 

You can give a date to mystery,

that would blend with bewitching shadows;

you can be the stone rolled away,

 

you can evaporate the circles under your eyes;

but remember, your small daughter, Mother;

Don't dare to do all you can do, don't die

THE BOY WHO SELLS GREENS

You have no parents, its clear...I know

because of your indecisive look. I can tellbecause of your shirt.

 

You are small but grown up behind the basket.

You respect the sparrows. A penny is enoughfor you.

 

The people pass dressed inside with steel.

They don't listen to you...You have shouted

two or three times: "Greens!"

 

They pass indifferently carrying packages andumbrellas;

in new pants and new yellow blouses;

 

they walk in a hurry toward the bank and thetedium

or toward the sunset through Main Street...

And you're not selling: you do the game of selling;

and although you never played, it comes to youwithout trying...

 

But don't get close to me; no, child, don'ttalk with me.

I don't want to see the site of your probablewings.

 

I found you this morning around the courthouse,

and what a blow your unhappy innocence has givenme!

 

My heart which was a urn of illusion

is now like a wilted greens, like no heart...

OF THE WORD

I won't tell you about truth,

because the word's going to die

and others

will need it.

 

You came bearing the word

and I was sensitive to it.

I said:

give me a little of it...

I was weak

and I took the word from your shoulder.

You see:

it's so heavy

that I, too, double over.

 

I want to say the word

over your grave,

but a flower already blooms there.

Between the final truth

and immortality

stands the poet

whose word was murdered by gunfire.


They killed your word

and covered you with earth,

but it doesn't matter,

you'll sing in the seeds.

[Acknowledgement: From Dust Disappears, selected poems of Carilda Oliver Labra, Letras Cubanas, Havana,1953. Original Spanish Copyright by the author. English translations ©1995 by Daniela Gioseffi & Enildo Gracia.]

Copyright ©1993 by Daniela Gioseffi from On Prejudice: A Global Perspective Doubleday/AnchorBooks

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