A Romanian poet who fell in love with and seduced his friend’s wife, Dimitrie Anghel wrote many notable poems in addition to essays and prose in his home country. Ostracized in literary and social circles for the affair–and the divorce and devastation it subsequently caused–he shot himself in the chest after a domestic dispute where he wounded his now wife, Natalia, mistakenly thinking he had killed her.
Below are “The One” and “Travellers,” two translations of Anghel’s poems by Ana Neagu, a Romanian student in the MA Literary Program at the University of Bucharest.
The beehives are buzzing in the glade
Under the giant azure bell,
All the land, from east to west,
Sounds as if a wind harp
Was somewhere hanging by a bough…
If you’d sit uneasy at the crossroads,
For the murmur comes from everywhere,
Like a mysterious guide,
It would lure you, and lead you,
Without your consent, the flower scent…
The glade is like a giant flower,
Changing rainbows of colors,
But it’s not just one, but thousands,
Spreading errant sparks
That ignite in the air and go out.
Like miniature temples
Honoring a secret cult,
In this beautiful Heaven,
Designedly made by nature,
You’ll find the white hives under their eaves.
Tireless run the bees in the light
Flitting to and fro,
A strand of strawflower is bending,
Sweet clover is rising
While lifeblood slowly turns to gold.
But, look, through the entrance,
The Bee Queen, the one among so many, steps into the light
And the drone lovers drunk on sunlight
Hearing her imperious call
Jump out of their drowsy form.
Lifting in the air, she draws a line,
A tinsel lightning on the blue sky,
And the groom bands come swarming,
Forming and breaking the line on her tail,
But she rises higher and higher to the glory of the skies.
Higher, higher still, and hurtling,
The bridegrooms race to catch her up,
But she’s a swift gold dot,
A dot is the beeyard in the glave,
A flower fallen from a bough.
Little by little, their thinned band breaks,
The powerless abandon their quest,
And in the dazzling fall,
Longingly gaze one last time
Upon the spark that only one still follows.
That one only has the queen,
But after this second of love,
She flies down satisfied
And he falls back in the sea of light
Under the giant azure bell.
There’s silence and we travel, faces bathed in the moon…
Jingle bells are ringing through the night,
The wheelers trot like wildfire and I get scared when I see,
For a moment, the leaders bolting on the side
Chased by their shadows which set the pace…
At times the path is turning blue
When they ride down the hills and the moon hides out
A floral scent from God knows where
Reaches the carriage and we leave it behind
“It must be some girl’s spell, master,
Yes, a spell,” the coachman says smiling
And the bay steeds are now slower
And our words, my good friend,
Are getting fewer and sadder,
As we both know behind us
Something’s come undone
And it’s not the road, but the poor life;
The sweet perfume travelling the night
‘s no flower scent, nor spell, but
The longing of a traveller,
Which follows him wherever,
And wants to escape under high skies on the high seas…