Poetry Translated by Gabi Reigh

Silence amongst ancient things
By Lucian Blaga, translated by Gabi Reigh

Closeby is my mountain, the mountain I love.

Surrounded by ancient things

Covered by moss since the day of creation,

While the evening’s black suns

Bring me the kindness of darkness,

I should be glad.

There is enough silence in the dome

That bolts together the staves of the sky.

But I remember a time before I existed

Like a faraway childhood,

And I ache for that country without a name.

And I tell myself again:

The stars in the sky are speechless.

Yes, I should be glad.

The distance to that star above
By Mihai Eminescu, translated by Gabi Reigh

The distance to that star above

Stretches so far beyond us

Thousands of years have struggled on

Before its rays could find us.

Its spark snuffed out in tombs of sky,

Long since by chaos thwarted,

Its ghostly light reaches us here

An age too late, a life after it started.

The icon of that fallen star

Lifts slowly through the night

Where once it lived, invisible.

We see its absence glowing now

Frozen in sleep, unreachable.

So too, my love,

Remembering our ancient sorrows

dissolved in time and darkness,

The light of all our smothered love

Glows through us cruel and boundless.

The Oblivion Factory
by Ioana Ileana Ștețco, translated by Gabi Reigh

This is where they forge famished shapes

Hollow with loneliness

Their mouths agape

As if frozen in song

I know how wars are lost

In a game of roulette

And reported in the evening papers

As domestic squabbles

Or the postponed dreams of those left behind

on the patch of ground at the back of the oblivion factory

where they cast off remainders.

The waters pass over us

And wash the shame from our songs

Lick clean our sores

Unbend the walls of sound

In the village where everyone signs the same name

A name no-one remembers

The prodigal tongue borrows notes

From those who can still recall the melody

And can name the shadows in the oblivion factory

And bow down before those who carve them by hand

The factory expands

Seeps into everything

Even those who still remember

Now play with shadows exiled from memory

And it will be an age before it will go into liquidation

On a day etched somewhere on the seam

The Evening Suicides
by Ioana Ileana Ștețco, translated by Gabi Reigh

A cloud scissored with wings

Is the flight of crows

In the autumn

I remember eternity

A palimpsest glimmering bitterness

A whore squinting her eyes somewhere beyond the pulse of this moment

Sniffing around the evening suicides

Who drag themselves up, in vain, towards the ramparts

Their blind fingers fumbling half-truths

In vain all the dreaming and the ending of dreams

In vain  you circle around the parched earth

To shield the new blade of grass

The salted sea of my blood

Splinters, cursed, through the hourglass

Into our shared, unpaired memories

Birds with fins, for me

Fish with wings, for her

And not even the evening suicides

are what they once used to be

In the days when they teased death

And paused laughing, inches away from infinity.

About the contributor

GABI REIGH emigrated from Romania to England in her teens. She won the Stephen Spender prize in 2017 and has translated Poems of Light by Lucian Blaga and The Town with Acacia Trees by Mihail Sebastian

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