Elisabeta Isanos - Poetry
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  • -"Vineyards Ablaze"
  • -"You Fall Asleep as a Free Man"
  • -"Shadow"
  • -"The Word"
  • -"Evening Unravelling"
  • -"Dog-Days"
  • -"Moon Wondering"
  • -"Marvel"
  • -"Wrath of the Unripen"
  • -"A Generation"
  • -"Courses"
  • -"The Light of Câmpulung"
  • -"Dura Mater"
  • -"Pigs"
  • -"Statues"
  • -"The Moth"
  • -"The Crosses"
  • -"Muteness"
  • -"Look"
  • -"Your Time"
  • -"War and Peace"
  • -"The Blind Her"
  • -"Life"
  • -"I'm Looking at the World..."
  • -"Lines Above the Forehad"


    In the country with vineyards ablaze,
    everybody walks around
    with their mouths blackened by grapes.
    In the country with tongues torn out,
    everybody walks around
    with songs in their throats,
    they sing about green leaves
    in the country
    with no woods.
    The audience claps
    coarse hands.
    The sky says nothing,
    it snows and that is all.


    You fall asleep as a free man and wake up bound,
    You fell asleep in one moment of peace,
    And over night a new war just begins,
    And you wake up surrounded by the armies.

    You fall asleep with hope in the dim dawns,
    And you wake up at dawn in full despair,
    You fall asleep caressed by someone else,
    And sole you are when the night’s pulse is silenced.

    You fall asleep a young man, old you wake,
    You wake up gray while you were safe and sound,
    You fall asleep – free thought and wake harnessed…

    Of what was meant for me, what do I get?
    I know I’d better stayed asleep meanwhile,
    And yet the eyes just open by themselves.


    With the shadow ahead, lying on asphalt,
    I carry a hump, a burden to the Sun:
    A safer body goes ahead of the other,
    Winter behind, summer steps undisturbed.

    Winter is I, with needs, only breath
    swells, lavish, and burdens…
    Only my shadow can cross the sea,
    And I crawl on my ankles and follow it.

    “You, strong one, don’t pull so hard,
    I can’t follow you, my gait is not alike,
    We are like two upright lines,
    You – for ever stronger, I – fading away.”

    When an army boot is passing,
    Planting bump flowers on her face,
    Unharmed, she jumps and defies it,

    Her step is nobler, her rank is higher,
    But the nails hurt me,
    And I cling to her, not to fall.


    Even if angels’ words were known to me,
    So many times I just don’t bear to speak,
    And if I speak is as if I gave birth
    When time is not at all appropriate.

    Because I see the word rushed in the winter,
    Neither a fleshy mass nor as tough as ice:
    A hollow smoke which flows into the void,
    A mere ghost just torn out by the currents,

    Because it’s warm, just flown out off the mouth,
    And crawling through the air as if it’s nothing,
    Greedy surroundings taking hold of it,
    Keeping it caught and throwing it in cold.

    Hardly emerged from under many blankets,
    It’s strange for me to see it nearby,
    As it reveals itself to me a germ,

    I feel like running quickly after it,
    With tender Easter lamb skin in my hand,
    With lamb skin gently covering the thought.


    Unravelling – so many Arabian Nights,
    it is the full blood of the loneliness,
    legions that constantly are coming closer,
    in murmur of crowds’ feet walking along.

    My blood is throbbing plurally and I don’t feel like
    saying that I “sleep” here, but “we sleep”…
    Like flies when we turn on the lamps to burning,
    we have conquered an attic over years,
    like the Crusaders, a Jerusalem.

    I would draw back now, un-besiege them,
    making the outskirts self-conceited though,
    striving again for all the heaven’s attics…

    Going so faraway from what was close,
    I shortcut my way back, through many weddings,
    and I die back like drowning in the water…

    Childhood, you really are a crowd!
    I am so lonely, from so large a crowd!


    My shade is more steadfast than I’m at home,
    it’s that of flesh that is put to keep fresh,
    and let me like a sweetish squeezed out rag,
    the walls are licking salt off my poor back.

    When I see worms infesting all the heat,
    I keep the cold and frost inside my brain,
    I throw myself under the zero grade,
    under this threshold or the sky for cellars.

    I’d like not to have been born here,
    but where only negative extents exist,
    in a reversed space and as well in past,
    earlier than Ur and even than Nineveh…

    But I can feel how noon raises from earth,
    towards the mid-sky is the beam up-raising,
    it comes forth from invigorating depth,

    the air is so much full of the divine
    just of a present that came through and grows,
    while I drip out as melted off the bones.


    This is no light, but the moon wondering.
    We have no news
    on what she sees on earth,
    that she un-wonders
    only late, when she is setting.
    But you should come and wonder with me,
    to be my bridegroom and make me your bride,
    no old selves kept,
    but old in our loves,
    and wonderingly young,
    to bear chrism on our brows
    on the chrismal wondering of moon !

    And maybe if we wonder even more,
    and if she sees us dressed in spousal dresses,
    running around in veils and fragile shoes,
    among the towers with their prison walls,
    the moon will wonder in mere daylight
    and our shadow will fall under the beam,
    and light, as to return her wonder,
    we will step up towards the midday moon.


    My marvel, no rich body was kept for you,
    others are hushed by the marble,
    but can you feel the dust sweetening
    your mouth?
    If you keep chewing it, it’s like the dung of bees.

    My marvel, all things finished until you,
    just old-scent dulse has yet remained,
    rustling straws greening in mats,
    I’m listening to you and it’s a song.

    They do rustle as they are mere dulse,
    The inside of you is yet so light,
    as brass is heavy in their feet,
    and cold stones shrinking their jaws alike.

    They swell, they widen and they rise,
    they shortly will burst off the moulds,
    and ripen, the shells come off them now…

    You will last longer than a borrowed body!
    My marvel, don’t cry if you still miss petrifying,
    Embalming will still come with my kiss.


    They speak like moonlight, and they will
    soon take their revenge by dying,
    their lost tears boring holes
    and slapping us by dying,

    and they don’t need any more,
    with stony tears and arrows from their eyes,
    and pallor as steel swords…
    They will punish us all by dying early.

    The old age of the mountains keeps them fresh
    in the far North with no one blooming flower,
    and you should climb there by not mounting,
    but just conquering something, a thin air,
    for ever cleaner and for ever purer.

    You push yourself into the sadden ramparts,
    and your own flesh is telling you “stop”,
    whatever you can do, they are afore:

    if you say something, they do know the sequel,
    and if you cry, they snow and age your crying,
    all that they do is one step even quicker,
    running away from all the words too ripen,
    towards the midday of the night sky stars,
    freed from that fairy tale you know so well.


    How favoured we can be, just look and see:
    we will die happier than in the stories,
    until the youth as long as it may be,
    until the most profound of our childhoods.

    Our burden will be always even lighter,
    just like the trees with fruits beaten in turns
    and life will melt itself like an ice cross
    in the deep hole of everlasting depths.

    If only we could have a little luck,
    we might have been there long time before,
    to water, earth and fire whatsoever,
    and to that love that’s permanently hot,

    maybe we reach there for the wedding night,
    when life is given to the lasting beings,
    when our Father whispers in harsh tones:
    “Be as if you were one time once upon a time!”


    The tears go back into their canals,
    and warms are settling down in apple balls,
    the soft sea’s sinking under all those vessels,
    the land is settling down under the hush.

    You can feel ardour only to the depth
    when stories are just ending up in stories,
    the silver coins are simply spread away,
    you’d like to find out what lies underneath.

    But in the mirrors, deep and high are mingled,
    the trees, whenever mirrored in the lake,
    always enjoy what is in fact a ruin,
    their crowns are falling but it seems they raise.

    The land gives birth to mountains, seas grow waves,
    apples give butterflies, onions give lilies,
    and treasures are reborn… Rashly forget their sequels,
    the stale narration is just to begin.


    I’ve never seen such light before alive:
    on one leaf – thirst and on the other dew…
    Steep as the rock, well, everything is ended,
    and then the world just seems two halves in one.

    We cheated ourselves with the forgiveness
    too much spread out and hiding under blankets,
    we then thought that the judgment is like sea…
    But we forgot the Sun always keeps path.

    And like in front of a Last Judgment,
    whatever good is parted from the faded,
    the boundary of this day just pierced us
    and cut me off right through the forehead.

    My right eye freezing and the left one weeping,
    a breast is withered and the other blooms,
    one hand is idle and the other toiling,
    one part is living, the other with no blood…

    Shall I be ever in a whole again?
    As not my whole was wrong, but just a part,
    I have not been a saint, but just a part.


    On my cheeks, your body made of tears,
    does not know where to go or how
    to reach the broadness in an easier way,
    and on my wrinkled face it makes its path.

    You want to be and found no other body
    than a hard water, relative of sea,
    but with no shell that gives birth to the feet,
    and with no foams of the embodiment.

    The Triangle of those female Bermudas,
    is the one that you cannot ever reach,
    you have in your way only the wet wrinkles,
    the crinkle left by just another course.

    You’re sliding and I feel just that you are,
    but if you were not, cheeks would not be wet,
    you would not spring on face more and again…


    If they were waken by a star in winter dawn,
    With those pink imitations by their nipples,
    They still sniff and grunt all among the bran,
    The hot maize flour pours in their trough.

    The dawn of the star just brings round the yards,
    Revives the pigs, while all the stars are dusking,
    And all the slops are flowing down at dawn,
    And all the husks are piling up in bellies.

    There is no dark and neither is it daylight,
    There are no shades, they may be just at loss,
    A greasy beam was whatsoever sifted,
    Through the so shuttered windows to the grass.

    And vicious circles gather in the body,
    The fat is all the more so thickening,
    And the sty is so badly smelling life,

    Of flesh, under a star with no one scent;
    The knife is cutting way into the back,
    The wound between sky and earth is growing.


    Perpetuity is tiring the statues
    lifted on the North sea of their pedestals,
    they sometimes get rimed like the ripen quinces,
    they’d like to ripe like lizards in the fire,
    and they miss winding in the blazing light,
    to sulk whenever they feel they are stinging,
    they wish to kick the bucket for a while,
    to feel a moment like the fish in water.

    Raisen on pedestals and exhausted statues,
    they cry only if it is meant to rain…
    Human all day, how heavy is the marble!
    Slow downfall and not even one new birth.

    They are stone-stilled: mere pale sluiceways,
    for the first time their shoulders are at level,
    and lips are at their ever real level,
    and so their hearts are not leaving or coming.

    So as to me, my marble is just thawing,
    my arm is springing out of my own shoulder,
    my eye balls are turning around at random,
    and all the things keep off myself,
    and other things are heaping upon me,
    I am so great at getting and at losing,
    a ply is leaving and another coming:
    one hand is pink, the other one is green.

    I am so sorry but I’m so involved in this,
    even in autumn when the leaves take their own leave
    and they are only lingering in dust,
    I’m worse than those clouds that have not a Sunday
    I have no time for anything at all,
    to me it is about comings and goings
    between here and very far away,
    and between yesterday and this right moment.


    I am confined in your youth,
    like the moth in an illumination,
    the words seem to be burnt in your hot space,
    and still are tending to you
    and not flying.

    Although you could not pass their thresholds,
    you turn the blooming yards to mere fallow,
    and you make spring miss centuries of flowers,
    letting behind you only a boundless shadow.

    I’m no more bathing in a welfare wasteland,
    as all along I could not heal of you
    and spoiling myself in the boundless time
    I was enjoying in my grief, not knowing…

    I have no hope to count on better “’morrows”
    and then I have to stay as ash
    into the always burning chandelier.


    There is no unschooled ground here nonetheless,
    Of words and names, no cross is ever emptied,
    Passing ants are periods at the end,
    Two or three, in a row, as in the school expected.

    With no feather or pen or with no bottom paper,
    We are urged: enter, please, because it’s open,
    you may learn that the style is pure as water,
    How full is the Paradise-Paris of such verse!

    Of waken tombs, with so many crown-prizes,
    Mathematics and tongues that do live just in writings,
    They sound in peace under the snow of times,
    And you can hear them walking among crypts.

    Was it not written that the Word was the beginning?
    So thousands of mouths that one cannot silence,
    And from the large soul that fills all the earth,
    A murmur rises, as from honeycombs shelves.


    My word is always reaching you,
    it’s all that my silence still knows…
    My word is touching you and coming back,
    turns round just like chicken in my throat.

    I’m trying shyly to call you by name,
    which I see flashing in the shade of day,
    but then you have a certain slyness though,
    and manage to remain outside the word.

    And then when the arms of my love get broken,
    the same as from the decks of ships fall crumbs,
    I take you and embrace with thorns like roses,
    within the snow-like freshness of the gestures,

    and they are still like stones with no eye sockets,
    or arches of the eye or deeper hearing,
    stunned with steep abysses at shoulders,
    I want to take you in my arms at loss,

    light, clear and without the least of squeezing,
    just snowed deep precipice and sloping banks,
    so as to feel you as you fall for flying.


    We will not die as long as we look at one another,
    in an ironic and mature way,
    what you see with your eyes will be enlarged,
    and will be heavily bound to time.

    The jealous fronts make me smaller,
    but your eyes, desperate glasses,
    through bricks and plaster leafage
    enlarge me among all things

    inmures with women’s faces,
    while a window is burning – a star,
    you save me from the doubling cornea,
    and the body will clearly arise,

    like a fly with no other gift
    than the one that it still exists,
    faultlessly being kept in amber,
    at the bottom of eyes or rock crystal.


    Your dawn means a new day to me,
    I’m taken by the night in your twilight,
    and it’s a time that you’ll hear no more,
    when fasting is so ever more to held.

    Pink-greenish gravel startle under water,
    perfect auroras with so many fountains!
    Before my sadness is about to start,
    it’s soothed by breeze in those soft loving hands.

    I make new times come, and they have no face,
    neither a red feast nor a date:
    and to the sand they bring a sandlike peace,
    and to the stones – a stonelike lasting silence.

    And even if the sun is rising badly
    and as a flaw is turned back to the base,
    my skin is overcome and it’s whole lightened:
    your sunrise springs forth smoothly in myself.

    I’m still tormented yet, because not ever
    will you be able just to see this light,
    although me, I have so much proof of it,

    that it’s a happiness that none can share
    it’s not like rain that scatters seas in night:
    you just have to believe its word as ever.


    This story turned me upside down,
    a loan with high sea tears interest rate;
    let me, you, time, nevertheless,
    find my own sorrow, that I cannot avoid!
    You, breath, so overpowering a weapon,
    I fight like wood, and it’s ash that I conquer;
    but sometimes just a whispering is stronger
    than the large piles of wood gathered together,
    a murmur – more tough than Nineveh,
    but so many things are not murmured
    and so many things are not whispered.
    The doves swear that they
    never do such things;
    but neither do they go up on lists of glory,
    they fly defeated through the arch of winning,
    keeping an olive branch in their claws.


    She was gardening herself just by looking,
    as in the ground you put a flowerbed,
    it was a garden that was each day ordered,
    and ploughed with eyelashes in mirrors fed.

    And for a while it has been just a ruin,
    a dereliction where no masters are,
    a wasteland where wings seeming shadows
    pass quickly by, caressing, with no hands.

    And if we ourselves come up in front,
    she takes us just for doves in fluttering,
    forgets us and then she learns us again,
    when we keep wandering among her wrinkles.


    We torture a light in the heart of the lateness,
    and your wind-beaten eyes are red with weeping.
    We attempt the variant of the wasteland
    with the head squeezed between the shoulders.

    And with a drop that wins over the thirst,
    we will be more than nothingness, that’s sure.
    We push shadows against the wall,
    we are more lightened than the night,
    and we are warmer than the cold.

    The day of yesterday is coming back,
    a little whiter and a little colder;
    we wander without going anywhere.
    And with uneasy rolls the time is passing.

    We wall up windows and we close the door
    and we drown our eyes in ponds of spoons,
    we stir the ash as not to let it sleep,
    as if it were the last and only one
    and as if we were just the only ones.


    I’m looking at the world through a Crucifixion,
    as through those standing crosses,
    I’m looking at the flowers through
    a putrefaction scent,
    and at the balance through a wincing soul.

    I pray you, make my eyes childish again,
    dress the world into another state,

    like a pure scent of rinsed sails…
    Make it like the colour-mute sea!

    And make me dare shape a holy tool
    of any little thing, and jewels of gravel,
    divine remains of any worm,
    to fall down stiff with holy grace.

    (And mute bells shall I try to make
    out of the flowers that just cannot toll,
    only the form long singing for the sight,
    and eyes becoming sextons,
    fading away in the remembrance, to the sound,
    finding it still young, sitting near springs…)

    This new youth would unfold
    around me only beams of silk…
    But who am I to make peace in the world,
    as in the core of hearts resembling trees?

    Soft tower, when the frames taken away,
    faint-hearted meat, a burden on the ribs,
    I only know to pack wet whispers
    in a mouth full of uninspired vowels.

    Shall I defend Him with the moans of hills?
    With softened eyelids falling down like snow,
    and no-one is there to touch Him?
    It’d mean that He is weaker than me.
    Pain has been made like mere bread,
    and blood is merely the breeding wine…

    How dare I feel pity for Him?
    How can I enjoy when thoughts are crying?


    You’d know that my love for you is so high,
    that threads in you are so bound as in heaven,
    I cannot take you off a sunset,
    or off the shine in my eyes.

    Nothing from you goes away,
    bare flake or iron in rust,
    and you come to me when it lightens at night,
    written in black, on a moment of light.

    I don’t even know a better inmure,
    when alive you shake off the pain,
    and with no clothes you are silken,
    like naked wood in a chill.

    I want nothing for this, you just wait
    and stay so inmured among churches:
    I’ll come slowly like straight poplars,

    when they start raising from offsprings.
    You just wait till I come
    growing, like grains shaken in spring.

    Translations by MIHAELA PALADI