from Biographia litteraria

Radu Vancu

Oh, father . . .

She is the grass, as the poet said, she covers everything, Waterloo, Austerlitz
                                                                                  then you, one of
my weary soul's greatest battles, still exhausted, with broken thighs;
she ceaselessly invaded the place where they laid you, after the asinine
                                                                                  burial speech,
dug with her chloformed being deep in the dead earth
methodically she tore down the green pyramid like a vegetal tent
in which you sleep, the last Pharoah, the wooden sarcophagus masking your

We were grass, we stretched out like some grass animal, giggling amorously
over your body, when you came home drunk sprawling on the rough carpet,
saying: hey, little chicken, love your daddy. Life floated around you, misting
reeking of vodka though I didn't understand then
how obscenely cheap it was, and you slept, snoring as I snore now. Mama
crying on occasion when she found you on the floor.

The grass is, es ist so, as the great man would say, you are not, and am I
here, with Camelia beside me, the violent gusts cutting more and more
like stone, asking myself who lives us and who lives the grass,
what lives us so differently? Cold. November is the cruelest month. Night
We creep silently among the tall grass. What lives us kills us.

The genesis of metaphor and the sense of memory

This girl, whom Blaga describes tasting the plums from the cemetry
to see whether the dead who nourished them were good or bad—
just like her my soul searches restlessly, striking powerfully
against walls of flesh with memories, chimes of remembrance
sounding sometimes sweet, sometimes putrid and bitter, like the juices
oozing from the corpse of the time when you were living, are their
                                                                                     placentary food.

The analogy with the „Genesis of metaphor" goes even further:
the peasants in Lancram boiled the plums grown from the flesh of the dead
until they were transformed into the brandy which macerates life and death.
Similarily, memories ferment their dead time in me as in a narcissist
until their squashing inconsistency oozes a spirt
from which I can't sober up, gliding back and forth between heaven and

Not deep enough in my soul, squashed and compact like the earth,
memories germinate relentlessly, always more, always more fertile,
their branches reaching ever higher with each passing moment
and the fruit of memories, with their contained spirits, never cease to
So only that, when the plum brandy sends a burning chill through me,
they fall, rot and nourish the beloved germinations. The memories are about
                                                                                      the future.

translated from the Romanian by Martin Woodside