After the Raising of Lazarus

After the Raising of Lazarus
Southword Editions, 2005.
Poems by Ileana Mălăncioiu. Translated from Romanian by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin.

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In Ileana Mălăncioiu's poems the oldest Romanian peasant traditions, and the realities of earth and the body, are unsettled and retold in apparent simplicity. Here is a poet who is at times a tragic satirist, at times charged with prophetic responsibility for the articulation of joy, indignation and despair in images of biblical intensity, against the nightmare background of her country's history in her time.

What the critics have said:

"There is much to praise in this collection. Malancioiu is not afraid of rich multi-layered imagery, prophetic and political statement. Her poetry is dense with symbolism. Even in the contrasting spareness of her language she has an assurance and majesty." - Modern Poetry in Translation

"The strength and fascination of Malancioiu's poetry successfully comes through because of these skilled and effective translations by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, which capture the essence of her sensibility and the inherent mysticism." -Metamorphoses



Selected Poems from After the Raising of Lazarus


The Headless Bird


According to custom, the old people have shut me away
Not to scare me stupid when they killed the bird,
And I am listening by the bolted door
To the trampling and the struggle.
I twist the lock time has worn thin
To forget what I have heard, to get away
From this struggle where
The body races after the head.
And I jump when the eyes, thick with fear
Turn backwards, turn white,
They look like grains of maize,
The others come and peck at them.
I take the head in one hand, the rest in the other,
And when the weight grows too much I switch them
Until they are dead, so they are still connected
At least in this way, through my body.
But the head dies sooner,
As if the cut had not been properly done,
And so that the body does not struggle alone
I wait for death to reach it passing through me.
A Request
I’m asking you, fearless lad,
Who conquered the wall of death at the children’s fair,
Don’t come to rescue me from the seven-headed giant
In hopes of half the kingdom for you reward.
I came to this place of my own free will,
I swept the cobwebs from the hearth,
I kneaded the earth twice over and
I filled all the ovens with bread
Then I broke it roughly, in a cloth,
To let out the heat, and he felt it far away,
And instead of a big club humming like a storm,
A great sniff from his fourteen nostrils.
I waited for him to find out the taste of the bread
And only after a bump of my heart I found all was well,
He was buried in the earth up to his breast
And from the shoulders up jammed in the moon.
Come all you girls who belong in this story
You have been stalked so long by dread,
When it is so simple and so human,
Just for once to try falling for a giant!
The Bear
In the high mountain grass, my body curled like the 
Crept out to warm themselves in the sun and stiff with 
I wait for the bear to arrive, to stoop beside me,
To stay there awhile, sniffing me in silence, again.

Seeing that I am still alive and that I want him to heal
To begin the soft trampling from shoulder to feet
So I feel him gliding over my ribs and kneeling without
                                                           wanting  to
And getting down on the grass when he knows it’s
                                                            hurting me,
Climbing up again gently along the spine as far as the
Hearing my vertebrae crackling under his wild right paw
And I can’t  cry out in fear since while he’s passing over
To heal me,  if I screamed he might put out his claws,
Let me rid myself of this female husk of a snake curled
                                                           in the sun,
Let the bear find the earth shifting as he makes me 
Gently, under his weight, trembling as he bends, 
Let me coil myself again groaning quietly and wait.
Then let the cure come, let me go through the trampled
And feel for once my body hot from his heavy tread
While the bear moves off slowly as if he were still
Stepping not on the earth, but on a woman’s shoulders

Copyright ©2005 Ileana Mălăncioiu

English translation Copyright ©2005 Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin



Ileana Malancioiu


Ileana Mălăncioiu was born in a village in Arges in 1940, she began to publish poetry in 1961 and graduated in philosophy in 1968. She has worked in Romanian television, in films and literary journals, from one of which, Viata românească she resigned as a protest against communist censorship. Her own poems suffered from censorship and in particular her collection Urcarea muntelui, (Climbing the Mountain) was heavily cut; in retrospect it seems astonishing that it was published at all. As well as poetry she has published critical and autobiographical works. In 2004 she received the Romanian Writers’ Union Prize for her Opera Omnia (Complete Works). One of the most admired Romanian poets, she lives in Bucharest.



Eiléan Ní chuilleanáin


Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin was born in 1942 in Cork, educated University College Cork. Since 1966 she has taught at Trinity College, Dublin. Married to the poet Macdara Woods, they have one son, Niall. She has translated from the Irish of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, and from the Italian of Michele Ranchetti. A selection of her poems, Testo di Seta, translated into Italian was published by Trauben (Turin) in 2004 and her Selected Poems was published by Gallery Press in 2008.

























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