Ana Blandiana *


Ana Blandiana At the beginning I promised to say nothing,
But later, in the morning
I saw you coming past the gates with bags of ashes
Scattering them as if one was sowing wheat.
As I could no longer contain myself, I shouted: What are you doing? What are you doing?
It is for you that I had snowed all over town, the whole night,
It is for you that I had blanched everything, the whole night, O if
You only could understand how difficult it is to snow!
Last night, you were hardly asleep, as I flew into space
It was dark and cold out there. I had to
Fly all the way to that single point where
The vacuum makes the suns spin and it snuffles them out,
And as I was still throbbing for a while in this corner
So that I could return and snow over you
The smallest snowflake I had to watch, weigh, approve,
Mature, make it glisten by looking at it,
And now I am feeling sleepy and exhausted and am feverish.
As I am watching you spreading the dust of that extinguished fire
Over my immaculately white work, I am smiling telling you:
Much higher snowdrifts will come after me
And they will cover you with all the white in the world.
Do try to understand, from the very beginning, this law,
Gigantic snowdrifts will come after us
And you will run out of ashes.
And even the smallest babies will learn how to snow
And the white will cover your poor attempts of denying it.
And planet Earth will enter the whirl of planets
Like a star glistening with snow.

Translated from Romanian by 
Constantin Roman.

Biography Ana Blandiana is one of the best contemporary Romanian poets and also one who had been translated in many languages. In 1976 she is invited by the Club des Poetes in Paris to an international festival of poetry where fellow poets from 37 other countries were taking part. She is born Otilia Coman in Timisoara the hero-city which in 1989 started the revolt which was going to remove Ceausescu from power. She studies in Oradea and graduates in Philology from the University of Cluj, where her debut at the age of 17 is made in “Tribuna”. For a while she is editor of the students weeklies but remains active publishing in quick sequence three volumes of poetry: “First Person plural” (1965), “Vulnerable Heel” (1966) and “Third Sacrament” (1969) respectively which receives the “Herder Prize”. Although a freelance columnist for Cultural weeklies in Bucharest Blandiana’s poems are banned in the 1980’s by Ceausescu’s censorship. The conflict with the Communist dictator starts at a time when his antics were more absurd and the cult of personality more degrading against a background of sub-standard living conditions. In 1985 Blandiana manages to circumvent the draconian censorship by publishing poems with a covert criticism of Ceausescu, in the cultural weekley “Amphiteatre. The full meaning of her poems is decoded too late to stop the publication and as a result Blandiana is banned completely from publishing, her name is erased from reference books and the poet barred from getting into print again. Still Blandiana poems circulate by word of mouth and disseminate in manuscripts scribbled on loose sheets, becoming an oral ‘Samizdat”. As a result Blandiana is denounced in 1988 as the author of a poem which became notorious – “Motanul Arpagic” (“Tom cat Onion”), this time a thinly disguised fable, poking fun at the dictator represented by a Tom cat. The poet remains free, but in fact a virtual prisoner in her home, with the post curtailed, her telephone cut off, under constant secret police surevillance on her outings and her visitors intimidated. This situation lasts for over a year from 1988 until Ceausescu is shouted down on 22nd December 1989, when restrictions are lifted and the Securitate surveilance car parked in fron of her house finally disappears. From now on Blandiana takes an active role in the newly formed “The Front for National Salvation” but soon realises that she is manipulated by the neo-Communist faction and resigns her position in 1990. Feeling very strongly about transparency and moral values in political life, she is one of the founders of the “Alianta Civica’ and an active critic cum moderator of the Coalition governments in post-Communist Romania: her voice often speaking out as the conscience of the people. In spite of her political involvement she still writes and publishes several volumes of poetry and prose, dealing with, amongst others women’s issues: “The architecture of waves” (1990), “One hundred poems” (1991), “A Drawer full of applause”. She is married to a fellow writer – Rusan, but carries on writing under her maiden name pseudonym.

Blandiana, Ana, “Arhitectura valurilor “(1990),
Blandiana, Ana, “100 de poeme” (1991),
Blandiana, Ana, “Sertarul cu aplauze”
Blandiana, Ana, “Persoana intiia plural “ (1964; "First-Person Plural"),
Blandiana, Ana, “A treia taina” (1969; "The Third Sacrament")
Blandiana, Ana, “Somnul din somn” (1977; "The Sleep Within the Sleep").
Blandiana, Ana, “Stea de prada” (1985; "Star of Prey").
Blandiana, Ana, “The Hour of Sand: Selected Poems 1969-1989” (1990).