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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Din nou despre Runaway

Girgentana Goat (Capra aegagrus hircus)
in the Lüneburg Heath wildlife park, Germany
author: Quarti
(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Capra_aegagrus_hircus_qtl6.jpg)
no copyright infringement intended

(read here the English version)

Iată o altă povestire de Alice Munro, se numeşte Runaway. O găsiţi şi pe web (de unde am citit-o şi eu):


Este prima povestire dintr-un volum care se numeşte tot Runaway, şi care a apărut în 2004.

Încep să observ unele trăsături generale ale scrisului ei. Faptul că nu iţi dezvăluie nici un element al povestirii până când nu e nevoie de el. Toate la vremea lor. Despre Carla aflăm aproape de la început că dă lecţii unor copii. Am putea bănui că e vorba de meditaţii pentru şcoală, aritmetică, geometrie sau ceva pe acolo. Ne cam miră că o profesoară curăţă grajdul şi e chemată atât de firesc să meargă să se ocupe de curăţenia casei unei vecine. Încetul cu încetul se strâng însă tot mai multe elemente până când este timpul să aflăm că femeia asta dă lecţii de călărie unor copii fiindcă nu e capabilă de nimic în viaţă decât să se ocupe de cai. La fel, povestea începe în casa locuită de Carla şi de soţul ei Clark, aflăm doar atunci când vine vremea să o aflăm că este vorba de o rulotă, ceea ce definitivează descrierea lor ca nişte oameni de condiţie foarte modestă. Despre faptul că soţul Carlei este un terchea berchea care mai stă şi cu coada în sus aflăm treptat. Evită magazinul din orăşel şi umblă numai după chilipiruri pe web, se ceartă din nimic cu toată lumea. Încetul cu  încetul ni se dezvăluie tot mai meschin şi mai ticălos. Târziu, doar atunci când e vremea, aflăm ce meserii de doi bani a practicat, iar în acel moment avem portretul întreg al unui ratat. Sărăcia vietii lor sexuale, datorită indiferenţei lui şi a unei posible impotenţe, măcar parţială, determinată poate de lipsa lui de imaginaţie, de libido, ni se dezvăluie şi ea cu încetul. Ei bine, economia asta în prezentarea detaliilor îi dă prozei lui Alice Munro o notă splendidă de minimalism.

Să fie oare Alice Munro o cehoviană? Poate că da. Nu sunt sigur, şi dacă mă gândesc bine, încep să mă întreb cât de cehovian este chiar şi Cehov? Hai să vedem: unii scriitori controlează tot timpul acţiunea povestirilor lor, altii (cehovienii) lasă acţiunea să curgă în voia ei. În loc să decidă dela bun început ce va fi în cartea lor, se mulţumesc să îşi imagineze ce s-ar putea întâmpla şi să savureze surprizele. Cehov, Jane Austen, Ozu, marele cineast japonez: pentru ei a inventa realitatea ar fi un sacrilegiu, atât de profund este respectul lor pentru realitate.

Să fie însă oare cehovianismul într-adevăr ceea ce ştim că este? Nu cumva cehovienii au geniul de a crea o poveste care doar pare că merge în voia ei? Nu cumva şi ei decid dela început ce se va întâmpla, doar că apoi se ascund cu dibăcie? La urma urmei, pentru ce e menţionată puşca în actul întâi din Pescăruşul? Oare pentru că domnul Cehov doar observă o puşcă prin cameră şi o lasă să fie şi ea acolo, că doar nu cere de mâncare? Sau pentru că ştie precis că în pauza dintre actul al doilea şi al treilea cineva o va folosi în culise? (Sigur, imi veţi spune că puşca a fost folosită în pauza dintre actele doi şi trei pentru că se întâmplase sa fie acolo încă din primul act şi nu pentru că autorul decisese totul dela bun început).

Ei bine, în Runaway puşca lui Cehov este o capră. Da, chiar aşa, o capră. O cheamă Flora şi rostul ei este să ţină tovărăşie cailor (ca să zic aşa, o capră de companie: cailor le place aşa ceva, mai ales noaptea - asta o ştiam dintr-o altă povestire, scrisă de Joseph Mitchell, Povestea lui McSorley's). Numai că acolo la Joseph Mitchell capra era doar odată menţionată şi atât, pe câtă vreme în Runaway e cu totul altceva: capra dispare chiar dela începutul povestirii şi reapare brusc spre sfârşit, chiar în momentul culminant. O capră absentă deci aproape toată vremea, dar jucând un rol esenţial în economia naraţiunii.

Care să fie rolul caprei şi pentru ce este rolul ăsta nici mai mult nici mai puţin decât esenţial? Ca să explic, aş începe cu o recenzie pe care am găsit-o pe web şi din care as vrea să citez un paragraf - recenzia asta mi s-a parut şi nostimă, şi instructivă:

So there I was, two weeks ago, lounging by the side of a pool in Punta Cana, reading Runaway, Alice Munro’s latest collection of short stories, when a woman in a bikini stopped at the foot of my chair and said, I’ve started reading that, too. Just finished the first story. So what’s with the goat? Did the husband really kill the goat? Ahhh … what a sad moment in my life! To learn that the only way I can attract the attention of a woman wearing a bikini is to sit by the side of a pool while reading a book by Alice Munro. Afterward, my sister-in-law — who had overheard our conversation from a distance — wondered what I had said to the woman. Because my sister-in-law sometimes teases me about the vocabulary I nurture, I said, I told the woman I thought Munro’s treatment of the goat was a postmodern commentary on Eliot’s objective correlative.


Aşadar domnul cu pricina era în Punta Cana (o staţiune celebră din Republica Dominicană), tolănit alene pe un şezlong la marginea piscinei şi citind (aţi ghicit) Runaway. O jună doamnă în bikini trece pe lângă el şi îl abordează: aha, citesti Runaway! Spune-mi şi mie, ce se întâmplă cu capra la sfârşit , e ucisă sau nu? Domnul şi-a dat seama nostalgic că singurul mod de a mai impresiona o jună doamnă în bikini este să citească Runaway (din păcate observ că nici eu nu mai pot impresiona altfel o persoană de sex feminin) şi i-a răspuns că această capră este o parafrază post-modernă a lui Alice Munro la teoria corelativului obiectiv a lui Eliot.

Cam riscant să dai un astfel de răspuns (se putea întâmpla ca juna doamnă să fi citit şi Pescăruşul, şi să aibă impulsul de a folosi puşca lui Cehov). Eu însă m-am dus imediat pe web ca să aflu ce şi cum, ajungând destul de repede la Hamlet and His Problems, eseul scris de Eliot în 1918, apoi la Washington Allston cu al său discurs introductiv la Lectures on Art din 1840, apoi la distincţia pe care bătranul Platon o făcuse în vremile vechi  între mimesis şi diegesis, şi aşa mai departe.

Spune Eliot, the only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an objective correlative; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked (http://www.bartleby.com/200/sw9.html).

Mai pe româneşte: pentru a comunica o emoţie cititorului, autorul fie o decrie în cuvinte (διήγησις - diegesis) - şi riscă să fie retoric - fie o sugerează printr-un element care evoluează în paralel cu naraţiunea (μίμησις - mīmēsis): acest element are rolul de a face evident cititorului ceea ce altfel autorul ar fi trebuit să transmită în cuvinte. Acest element poate fi un obiect, o persoană, o situaţie, un crâmpei de natură, orice, numai să fie paralel cu naraţiunea şi nu parte din ea. Acesta este corelativul obiectiv. Pentru ce se numeşte aşa? Zic eu, pentru că nu este parte a naraţiunii, deci este corelativ naraţiunii, şi de asemenea nu impărtăşeşte emoţiile din naraţiune (fiind exterior ei), astfel rămânând obiectiv. De subliniat că nu participă la emoţiile din naraţiune, dar le pune în evidenţă.

Întorcându-ne acum la capra noastră, ea reapare exact în momentul în care este nevoie de ea, pentru a dizolva starea de tensiune dintre Clark şi vecina lor Sylvia, pentru a introduce în locul tensiunii o stare de epifanie (ἐπιφάνεια - epiphaneia). Această povestire cu personaje mediocre şi tensiuni nerezolvate, cu momente extraordinare de suspans care se dovedesc de fiecare dată că au fost construite în mod magistral pe nisip, această povestire, zic, este atât de frumoasă pentru că ea, povestirea, este doar un pretext, singura ei raţiune de a exista este aceea de a ne conduce spre o stare de epifanie. Capra reapare brusc într-o lumină orbitoare (datorită maşinii din spatele ei, dar maşina nu e importantă, ci lumina) - învăluind capul caprei într-un nimb, şi făcându-i pe fiecare să îşi dea seama că orice conflict, orice dramă, sunt fără însemnătate în fata eternităţii universului. Un credincios va vedea aici o manifestare a Divinităţii. Un agnostic va avea şi el intuiţia Cosmosului. Capra, simbol religios atât de puternic încă din vremuri biblice, încă dela Avraam şi Isaac, ba chiar probabil din vremuri încă şi mai vechi.

Ce se va întâmpla mai departe cu capra, o va ucide bărbatul? Poate că da: un sacrificiu e necesar  pentru a răspunde cum se cuvine epifaniei, pentru a  te aşeza în marea ordine cosmică - şi întotdeauna este inocentul, este Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi. Poate că nu, cine ştie? Povestirea nu ne-o spune, pentru că după reapariţia ei uluitoare, capra încetează să mai fie un Mesager al Universului, reintră în obişnuitul lucrurilor de fiecare zi, iar orice s-ar întâmpla în lumea de zi cu zi este de fapt fără însemnătate. Doar epifania are însemnătate. O povestire superbă.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

The Satmar Jews from Brooklyn

1936: Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum greeting King Carol II of Romania
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SatmarRebbe36.jpg)
no copyright infringement intended

Pola Rapaport recommends the short documentary embedded in the video below. She lives now in Williamsburg, a large neighborhood in Brooklyn with a strong Satmar Jewish community presence: a Hasidic sect originating in the city of Satu Mare. Despite their so traditional ways of behaving the Satmar Jewish history is actually very recent: the sect was founded in 1905. By that time Satu Mare belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire. Now it is part of Romania.

I visited Pola several times and I was always impressed seeing how these people looked like in their clothing. And I asked myself every time whether is it good or bad to look so out of touch with the modern life. And more than that, what's really behind this out of touch clothing style. Wouldn't it be better to plunge from shtetl and ritual into the Sturm und Drang of the modern world? (I'm quoting here Roger Cohen) The documentary recommended by Pola lets them presenting themselves and, which raises another question: is it really all this so idyllic? Pola might be fascinated with their ways, I would prefer the ways of Roger Cohen.

Nowadays more and more immigrants from Latin America are settling in Williamsburg, and the kids of the two communities play together on the streets. And maybe the answers to my questions could come from these kids playing together.






(Pola Rapaport)

(New York, New York)

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Amintiri despre trecute zile de Thanksgiving

Have the Best Thanksgiving! Ever!
(http://explorethedc.org/have-the-best-thanksgiving-ever/)
no copyright infringement intended


Ştiam şi eu câte ceva despre Thanksgiving, ce se sărbătoreşte, însă mă mira că părea a fi considerat de americani o sărbătoare foarte importantă, parcă mai importantă decât toate celelalte. Aşa că odată l-am sunat pe un prieten stabilit în America de mult şi l-am întrebat. Mi-a zis că sărbătoarea de Thanksgiving e atât de populară în America pentru că e o sărbătoare fără conotaţie religioasă, aşa că îi adună pe toţi, indiferent de credinţa fiecăruia.

După câţiva ani m-am mutat în America şi am început să aflu mai multe, în primul rând că există şi unii americani care nu cred potrivit să se sărbătorească această zi: răsplata generozităţii populatiei native avea să fie exterminarea. Se poate discuta desigur, însă istoria trebuie acceptată aşa cum a fost, şi cu bune şi cu rele, şi cu foarte bune şi cu foarte rele. Am mai citit apoi şi despre alte opinii: că de fapt generozitatea de atunci a băştinaşilor a fost un calcul politic al unui şef de trib, un calcul politic bazat pe raţiuni oportuniste, şi care nu a însemnat că toţi nativii erau dispuşi la asemenea gesturi. Un şef de trib care era un colaboraţionist avant la lettre. Ceea ce e poate iarăşi corect, dar şi aci aş zice că istoria trebuie acceptată aşa cum a fost. Un om posibil oportunist a ajutat nişte oameni să nu moară de foame. Acei oameni au pus bazele Americii de azi.

Aveam să aflu şi că în Virginia, statul în care locuiam, Thanksgiving-ul ar trebui celebrat la o altă dată şi cu alt meniu decât cel din Massachusetts, pentru că şi în colonia intemeiată in Virginia de azi un alt şef de trib (generos sau oportunist) îi ajutase pe colonişti. Aşa o fi fost, dar iată că în toată America Thanksgiving-ul se sărbătoreşte la data statornicită în colonia care azi e statul Massachusetts şi cu meniul de acolo.

Saying grace before carving the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner in the home of Earle Landis in Neffsville, PA
November 1942
Photo by Marjory Collins. Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Thanksgiving_grace_1942.jpg)
no copyright infringement intended


Este o sărbătoare de familie şi oamenii călătoresc dintr-o parte a Americii în alta ca să fie alături de rudele lor, la masa unde se taie curcanul, Aşa că mai toate restaurantele sunt închise.

Problema mea era că mă aflam singur în Virginia. Timp să mă duc la băiatul meu în Massachusetts, sau la surori la New York, nu prea aveam, aşa că profitam de ziua asta liberă, dar singur.

Într-un an m-am dus în Alexandria să sărbătoresc acolo. Un oraş superb pe malul Potomacului, cu un centru istoric de care sunt îndrăgostit şi în care mă duceam foarte des. Numai că restaurantele erau închise. Şi cel la care ma gândisem să încerc, Fish Market. Imi plăcea să merg la Fish Market şi să comand o porţie de stridii. Era închis. Doar un singur restaurant era deschis, chiar pe malul fluviului, într-o clădire care pe vremuri fusese farul portului şi unde se păstrau atunci de demult şi hărţile necesare navigaţiei. Am intrat şi m-au întrebat dacă am facut rezervare. Nu făcusem. M-au invitat atunci să iau loc la bar. Am comandat o porţie de stridii (cred că mă cunoaşteţi acum, că sunt un om cu idei puţine dar fixe) şi mi le-au servit intr-o farfurie de argint. Sigur că şi preţul a fost de argint.

Au mai trecut anii, obişnuiam ca revelionul să mi-l petrec pe străzile aceleiaşi Alexandria, un oraş despre care aş fi in stare să vă povestesc fără întrerupere, deseori însă mă duceam să fac revelionul la băiat.

Ultimul Thanksgiving în America am fost din nou singur! Am ieşit dimineaţa în orăşelul în care mă aflam, erau deschise doar cele două Starbucks-uri şi un Peet's Coffee and Tea. Le-am luat la rând, am băut cafea cât se poate de mult, şi la patru dupa masă s-au închis şi ele.

Acum sunt, cum ştiti, la Bucureşti. Însă Thanksgiving-ul a venit şi el după mine. Lumea s-a mai americanizat aici, aşa cum se întâmplă în toata lumea. Şi de acest Thanksgiving sunt liber. Dar de data asta nu mai sunt singur.


(A Life in Books)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lilly Rivlin: Women of the Meretz

(published on Facebook by Lilly Rivlin)
no copyright infringement intended


They are commemorating a dear friend, Esther Broner, who has has done so much for the cause of Jewish feminism. When Esther passed away, Lilly Rivlin decided to make a movie about her: Esther Broner, A Weave of Women. Now the movie is released.

Thanks Lilly for sharing this image with us. So expressive, a picture speaking by itself.


(Lilly Rivlin)

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Alice Munro: Runaway (and Eliot's Objective Correlative)

Girgentana Goat (Capra aegagrus hircus)
in the Lüneburg Heath wildlife park, Germany
author: Quarti
(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Capra_aegagrus_hircus_qtl6.jpg)
no copyright infringement intended

(click here for the Romanian version)

Another story by Alice Munro, this time Runaway. You can read it on the web (as I did):


It's the first story in a collection of short stories (also named Runaway) published in 2004.

There are some specifics in Munro's writing, and one of them is her way of delivering the details only when they are needed, never before. All in good time. About Carla we know from the beginning that she teaches at home. And we could assume there are lessons from school curricula, maths or something. Which makes a bit weird to see her doing daily the routine work in the stable, or the natural way she is called for cleaning at a neighbor. In good time we'll be told that Carla gives riding lessons to kids, and that's because she's good of nothing but horses. About the house where she lives with her husband Clark: the story begins there. What we'll be told only when the time comes is that it's just a trailer: the guys are of very modest condition. About Clark: his picture comes gradually, more and more we realize his absolute mediocrity. And the indigence of their sexual life, due to his indifference, his lack of imagination and libido, this comes to us also bit by bit. Everything only in good time. This economy in presenting the details gives Munro's prose a splendid minimalistic dimension.

While reading Munro's stories Chekhov comes to mind. Is she a Chekhovian? Here it should be a little discussion. Because at a second thought I'm starting to wonder if even Chekhov is so Chekhovian as it's the talk in town. Let me explain. There are authors who control the story in a demiurgical way. There are other authors (the Chekhovians) who let the story flow at its will. Instead of deciding from the beginning what will happen, they just allow their imagination to follow what's going on and sit aside enjoying the surprise. It's Chekhov, it's Jane Austen, it's Ozu, the great Japanese film director: for them inventing reality in a narrative would be a sacrilege, so deep is their respect for reality.

Question: is Chekhovianism really what we think it is? Is it not rather about the genius to create a story that only seems to be at large, while actually being very carefully crafted? After all, what's with this Chekhov's gun? Is it in the first act of The Seagull only because it happens to hang there on the wall? Or is it there because Chekhov knows exactly that someone will use it between the second and third acts? (well, one can argue that, by the contrary, the rifle was used between the second and third acts because it had happened to hang on the wall in the first act and not because the author had decided that way - I mean, it's up to you to decide what Chekhovianism really is - just kidding).

Coming now to Munro's Runaway, here Chekhov's gun is a goat, who disappears at the very beginning of the story and will reenter the picture by the end, exactly at the climax. A goat named Flora, having the duty to keep company to horses (a nanny goat, so to speak - horses love company, especially during the night - that I knew from another story, the one about McSorley's, written by Joseph Mitchell). Well, in the story by Mitchell the goat was only once mentioned, here in the story of Mrs. Munro it's different: the goat is  missing during almost all story while playing a decisive role in the economy of the narrative.

What's the role of this mostly missing goat, and why is this role so decisive? Here is a review for Runaway that I'd found on the web and I'd like to quote a little bit as it seems to me both very funny and very instructive:

So there I was, two weeks ago, lounging by the side of a pool in Punta Cana, reading Runaway, Alice Munro’s latest collection of short stories, when a woman in a bikini stopped at the foot of my chair and said, I’ve started reading that, too. Just finished the first story. So what’s with the goat? Did the husband really kill the goat? Ahhh … what a sad moment in my life! To learn that the only way I can attract the attention of a woman wearing a bikini is to sit by the side of a pool while reading a book by Alice Munro. Afterward, my sister-in-law — who had overheard our conversation from a distance — wondered what I had said to the woman. Because my sister-in-law sometimes teases me about the vocabulary I nurture, I said, I told the woman I thought Munro’s treatment of the goat was a postmodern commentary on Eliot’s objective correlative.

Well, bringing the objective correlative in front of a nice lady in bikini can kill the conversation (and that in the best case scenario - sometimes it's much worse: imagine the lady also read Chekhov and has the nerve to trigger the Chekhov's gun). As for me, I went immediately to the web where I found some stuff about the matter, firstly Hamlet and His Problems, the essay written by Eliot in 1919, then Washington Allston and the Introductory Discourse to his Lectures on Art from 1840, then the distinction that Plato had made in the old times between mimesis and diegesis, and so on and so forth.

Says Eliot, the only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an objective correlative; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked (http://www.bartleby.com/200/sw9.html).

Let's try another way: in order to communicate to the reader an emotion, an author can either describe it in plain words (διήγησις - diegesis) or suggest it through something evolving in parallel with the story (μίμησις - mīmēsis): this something has the role of making obvious to the reader what the author would otherwise try to describe in words. This is the objective correlative. Why is it named so? Well, I think because it's not part of the story, it's correlative to the story, and also it does not share the emotions rising in the story (because it does not participate at the story), this way remaining objective. I must say it does not share the emotions while it emphasizes them.

Thus, the goat from Runaway reappears at the very moment when need is: to dissolve the tension between Clark and their neighbor Sylvia, to replace the tension by an epiphany (ἐπιφάνεια - epiphaneia). This story with mediocre characters and unresolved tensions, with great moments of suspense masterfully built on the sand, is so beautiful because the story is only a pretext, its only reason is to bring us to an epiphany. The goat reappears in a striking light (due to the car behind it, only the car doesn't matter, it is the flooding light that matters) - the light enveloping the goat's head and making everybody realize that any conflict, any drama, are meaningless in face of the Universal. A believer would see here the manifestation of the Divine. A non-believer still would have an intuition of the Cosmic. The goat, a powerful religious symbol since Biblical times, since Abraham and Isaac, and even since more ancient times.

What will further happen with the goat? Will Clark kill her? A sacrifice is always needed to accomplish the meaning of the epiphany, and as ever happens, it is Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi. Or will Clark just let her disappear again? The story doesn't tell us, because, after her striking re-apparition, the goat reenters the everyday level, the mundane, and all that happens there, among Clark, and Carla, and Sylvia, and the goat, and everybody else, doesn't matter. It is only the epiphany that matters! A brilliant story.


(Alice Munro)

(T. S. Eliot)

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Van Gogh: Les Oliviers, Nov 1889

Van Gogh, Les Oliviers
(Olive Trees)
oil on canvas, Nov 1889
National Galleries of Scotland
(published on Facebook by Van Gogh: The Life)
no copyright infringement intended


The writhing brushwork and strident colors contribute to the painting's powerful impact. Van Gogh was fascinated by the gnarled structures and changing colors of olive trees. He was also fully aware of their association with the story of Christ's Passion and the episode of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. This picture is one of at least fourteen canvases of olive trees Van Gogh painted while in the asylum at Saint-Remy, and its intense character may well reflect the artist's agitated state of mind.


(Van Gogh)

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Spanish Words Adopted by English



Well, it's not about Spanglish , rather about Spanish words adopted by English. And about Romenglish and English words adopted by Romanian.

Rodeo, pronto, taco, enchilada, are they Spanish or English, or both? English, like most languages, has expanded over the years through assimilation of words from other tongues. As people of different languages intermingle, inevitably some of the words of one language become words of the other (http://spanish.about.com/cs/historyofspanish/a/spanishloanword.htm).

I read today a short essay by Dan Caragea: he is preoccupied by the dangerous trend of using casually English words and expressions by Romanian speakers, when need is and when need is not. This trend is not particular to Romanian, it happens everywhere, and the effects can be perverse. Normally one should use Romanian words when speaking Romanian and English words when speaking English, as simple as that.

Well, it's not that simple. There are different situations: sometimes the use of an English word in Romanian is natural, sometimes is not. It's natural to intermingle English and Romanian in the computer jargon, for instance. Here almost everybody agree. There are other situations when intermingling English and Romanian is just a mark of preciousness and of ridicule. And there are situations when English words, rightly or wrongly, were adopted by Romanian, and became Romanian words. Is it good, is it bad? Here nobody seem to agree one another.

No wonder that the essay of Dan Caragea raised many commentaries. I was particularly interested in one of these commentaries (made by Zack Atila): it was about a similar trend in the American English: the adoption of Spanish words. He gave a long list (by no means complete, he said) of Spanish loanwords that have assimilated themselves into the English vocabulary:

adios (from adiós)
adobe (originally Coptic tobe, "brick")
aficionado
albino
alcove (from Spanish alcoba, originally Arabic al-qubba)
alfalfa (originally Arabic al-fasfasah. Many other English words beginning with "al" were originally Arabic, and many may have had a Spanish-language connection in becoming English.)
alligator (from el lagarto, "the lizard")
alpaca (animal similar to a llama, from Aymara allpaca)
armadillo (literally, "the little armed one")
armada
arroyo (English regionalism for "stream")
avocado (originally a Nahuatl word, ahuacatl)

bajada (a geological term referring to a type of alluvial slope at the base of a mountain, from bajada, meaning "slope")
banana (word, originally of African origin, entered English via either Spanish or Portuguese)
bandoleer (type of belt, from bandolera)
barracuda
barbecue (from barbacoa, a word of Caribbean origin)
bizarre (some sources, not all, say this word came from the Spanish bizarro)
bonanza (although the Spanish bonanza can be used synonymously with the English cognate, it more often means "calm seas" or "fair weather")
booby (from bobo, meaning "silly" or "selfish")
bravo (from either Italian or Old Spanish)
bronco (means "wild" or "rough" in Spanish)
buckaroo (possibly from vaquero, "cowboy")
bunco (probably from banco, "bank")
burrito (literally "little donkey")
burro

cafeteria (from cafetería)
caldera (geological term)
canary (Old Spanish canario entered English by way of French canarie)
canasta (the Spanish word means "basket")
cannibal (originally of Caribbean origin)
canoe (the word was originally Caribbean)
canyon (from cañon)
cargo (from cargar, "to load")
castanet (from castañeta)
chaparral (from chaparro, an evergreen oak)
chaps (from Mexican Spanish chaparreras)
chihuahua (dog breed named after Mexican city and state)
chile relleno (Mexican food)
chili (from chile, derived from Nahuatl chilli)
chili con carne (con carne means "with meat")
chocolate (originally xocolatl, from Nahuatl, an indigenous Mexican language)
churro (Mexican food)
cigar, cigarette (from cigarro)
cilantro cinch (from cincho, "belt")
cocaine (from coca, from Quechua kúka)
cockroach (Two English words, "cock" and "roach," were combined to form "cockroach." It is believed, but isn't certain, that the words were chosen because of their similarity to the Spanish cucaracha.)
coco (type of tree, from icaco, originally Arawak ikaku from the Caribbean)
comrade (from camarada, "roommate")
conquistador
condor (originally from Quechua, an indigenous South American language)
corral coyote (from the Nahuatl coyotl)
creole (from criollo)
criollo (English term refers to someone indigenous to South America; Spanish term originally referred to anyone from a particular locality)

dago (offensive ethnic term comes from Diego)
dengue (Spanish imported the word from Swahili)
derecho (a type of windstorm that can be found in the U.S. Midwest)
desperado dorado (type of fish)

El Niño (weather pattern, means "The Child" due to its appearance around Christmas)
embargo (from embargar, to bar)
enchilada (participle of enchilar, "to season with chili")

fajita (diminutive of faja, a belt or sash, probably so named due to strips of meat)
fiesta (in Spanish, it can mean a party, a celebration, a feast — or a fiesta)
filibuster (from filibustero, derived from Dutch vrijbuiter, "pirate")
flan (a type of custard)
flauta (a fried, rolled tortilla)
flotilla frijol (English regionalism for a bean)

galleon (from Spanish galeón)
garbanzo (type of bean)
guacamole (originally from Nahuatl ahuacam, "avocado," and molli, "sauce")
guerrilla (In Spanish, the word refers to a small fighting force. A guerrilla fighter is a guerrillero.)

hammock (from jamaca, a Caribbean Spanish word)
habanero (a type of pepper; in Spanish, the word refers to something from Havana)
hacienda (in Spanish, the initial h is silent)
huarache (type of sandal)
hurricane (from huracán, originally an indigenous Caribbean word)
hoosegow (slang term for a jail comes from Spanish juzgado, participle of juzgar, "to judge")

iguana (originally from Arawak and Carib iwana)
incomunicado jaguar (from Spanish and Portuguese, originally from Guarani yaguar)

jalapeño jerky (the word for dried meet comes from charqui, which in turn came from the Quechua ch'arki)
jicama (originally from Nahuatl)

key (the word for a small island comes from the Spanish cayo, possibly of Caribbean origin)

lariat (from la reata, "the lasso")
lasso (from lazo)
llama (originally from Quechua)

machete
machismo
macho (macho usually means simply "male" in Spanish)
maize (from maíz, originally from Arawak mahíz)
manatee (from manatí, originally from Carib)
mano a mano (literally, "hand to hand")
margarita (a woman's name meaning "daisy")
mariachi (a type of traditional Mexican music, or a musician)
matador (literally, "killer")
marijuana (usually mariguana or marihuana in Spanish)
mesa (In Spanish it means "table," but it also can mean "tableland," the English meaning.)
menudo (Mexican food)
mesquite (tree name originally from Nahuatl mizquitl)
mestizo (a type of mixed ancestry)
mole (The name for this delightful chocolate-chili dish is sometimes misspelled as "molé" in English in an attempt to prevent mispronunciation.)
mosquito mulatto (from mulato)
mustang (from mestengo, "stray")

nacho
nada (nothing)
negro (comes from either the Spanish or Portuguese word for the color black)
nopal (type of cactus, from Nahuatl nohpalli)

ocelot (originally Nahuatl oceletl; the word was adopted into Spanish and then French before becoming an English word)
olé (in Spanish, the exclamation can be used in places other than bullfights)
oregano (from orégano)

paella (a savory Spanish rice dish)
palomino (originally meant a white dove in Spanish)
papaya (originally Arawak)
patio (In Spanish, the word most often refers to a courtyard.)
peccadillo (from pecadillo, diminutive of pecado, "sin")
peso (Although in Spanish a peso is also a monetary unit, it more generally means a weight.)
peyote (originally Nahuatl peyotl)
picaresque (from picaresco)
pickaninny (offensive term, from pequeño, "small")
pimento (Spanish pimiento)
pinole (a meal made of grain and beans; originally Nahuatl pinolli)
pinta (tropical skin disease)
pinto (Spanish for "spotted" or "painted")
piñata piña colada (literally meaning "strained pineapple")
piñon (type of pine tree, sometimes spelled "pinyon")
plantain (from plátano or plántano)
plaza poncho (Spanish adopted the word from Araucanian, an indigenous South American language)
potato (from batata, a word of Caribbean origin)
pronto (from an adjective or adverb meaning "quick" or "quickly")
pueblo (in Spanish, the word can mean simply "people")
punctilio (from puntillo, "little point," or possibly from Italian puntiglio)
puma (originally from Quechua)

quadroon (from cuaterón)
quesadilla
quirt (type of riding whip, comes from Spanish cuarta)

ranch (Rancho often means "ranch" in Mexican Spanish, but it can also mean a settlement, camp or meal rations.)
reefer (drug slang, possibly from Mexican Spanish grifa, "marijuana")
remuda (regionalism for a relay of horses)
renegade (from renegado)
rodeo
rumba (from rumbo, originally referring to the course of a ship and, by extension, the revelry aboard)

salsa (In Spanish, almost any kind of a sauce or gravy can be referred to as salsa.)
sarsaparilla (from zarza, "bramble," and parrilla, "small vine")
sassafras (from sasafrás)
savanna (from obsolete Spanish çavana, originally Taino zabana, "grassland")
savvy (from sabe, a form of the verb saber, "to know")
serape (Mexican blanket)
serrano (type of pepper)
shack (possibly from Mexican Spanish jacal, from the Nahuatl xcalli, "adobe hut")
siesta silo sombrero (In Spanish, the word, which is derived from sombra, "shade," can mean almost any kind of hat, not just the traditional broad-rimmed Mexican hat.)
spaniel (ultimately from hispania, the same root that gave us the words "Spain" and español)
stampede (from estampida)
stevedore (from estibador, one who stows or packs things)
stockade (from a French derivation of the Spanish estacada, "fence" or "stockade")

tobacco (from tabaco, a word possibly of Caribbean origin)
taco (In Spanish, a taco can refer to a stopper, plug or wad. In other words, a taco originally meant a wad of food. Indeed, in Mexico, the variety of tacos is almost endless, far more varied than the beef, lettuce and cheese combination of U.S.-style fast food.)
tamale (The Spanish singular for this Mexican dish is tamal. The English comes from an erroneous backformation of the Spanish plural, tamales.)
tamarillo (type of tree, derived from tomatillo, a small tomato)
tango
tequila (named after a Mexican town of the same name)
tejano (type of music)
tomatillo
tomato (from tomate, derived from Nahuatl tomatl)
toreador
tornado (from tronada, thunderstorm)
tortilla (in Spanish, an omelet often is a tortilla)
tuna (from atún)

vamoose (from vamos, a form of "to go")
vanilla (from vainilla)
vaquero (English regionalism for a cowboy)
vicuña (animal similar to a llama, from Quechua wikuña)
vigilante (from adjective for "vigilant")
vinegarroon (from vinagrón)

wrangler (some sources say word is derived from Mexican Spanish caballerango, one who grooms horses, while other sources say the word comes from German)

yucca (from yuca, originally a Caribbean word)

zapateado (a type of dance emphasizing movement of the heels)

Coming back to the issue of Romenglish: in many cases it's just stupid, snobbish and perverse. Some other times it is not Romenglish, rather just English words adopted by Romanian: they became part of the Romanian vocabulary. Rightly or wrongly, anyway adopted. Language is like love: il a ses raisons que la raison ne connait pas.


(Dan Caragea)

(Una Vida Entre Libros)

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

La vida es una tómbola



The soccer team of Romania lost the qualification for the World Cup. That's it, sometimes you gain, sometimes you loose,  la vida es una tómbola.And, as il faut faire bon cœur contre mauvaise fortune, I would like to put here a song played by Manu Chao. The video was posted on a Romanian onLine newspaper by Costi Rogozanu. I found then the lyrics on the web.

Si yo fuera Maradona
viviría como él
si yo fuera Maradona
frente a cualquier portería

si yo fuera Maradona
nunca m'equivocaría
si yo fuera Maradona
perdido en cualquier lugar.

La vida es una tómbola...
de noche y de día...
la vida es una tómbola
y arriba y arriba....

Si yo fuera Maradona
viviría con él
...mil cohetes... mil amigos
y lo que venga a mil por cien...

si yo fuera Maradona
saldría en mondovision
para gritarle a la FIFA
¡Que ellos son el gran ladrón!

La vida es una tómbola...
de noche y de día...
la vida es una tómbola
y arriba y arriba....

Si yo fuera Maradona
viviría como él
porque el mundo es una bola
que se vive a flor de piel

Si yo fuera Maradona
frente a cualquier porquería
nunca me equivocaría...

Si yo fuera Maradona
y un partido que ganar
si yo fuera Maradona
perdido en cualquier lugar...

La vida es una tómbola
de noche y de día...
la vida es una tómbola
y arriba y arriba....







(Blogosphere)

Selma Lagerlöf

Selma Lagerlöf receives the Nobel Prize in Literature
from the hands of the Swedish King Gustav V
illustration from Svenska Dagbladet, 11 December 1909
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Selma_Lagerlof_nobel_prize_illustration.png)
no copyright infringement intended


Today (November 20) is the birthday of her. Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf was born in 1858 and passed away in 1940. The first female writer to win the Nobel for Literature, she remained known for her Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige - The Wonderful Adventures of Nils


(German and Nordic Literature)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A bit about the Plum in the Golden Vase

a 17th-century illustration for the Ming dynasty novel The Plum in the Golden Vase, newly translated, in five volumes with more than 4,400 endnotes, by David Tod Roy
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Mo
Photograph by John Lamberton
(http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2013/11/19/arts/19DIRTYjp1.html)
no copyright infringement intended

The Plum in the Golden Vase, an infamously pornographic tale of the rise and fall of a corrupt merchant, written by an anonymous author in the late 16th century. It can be described as Jane Austen meets hard-core pornography. It has a Proustian length, a De Mille-like number of characters, an Ullyses-like level of detail. I'm quoting all this from an article from today's NY Times, speaking about a great English rendering done by David Tod Roy.



an illustration of a fireworks display from the 1628-1643 edition
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ming_Dynasty_Jin_Ping_Mei_fireworks.jpg)
no copyright infringement intended


Let me add that I have a Romanian rendering of the book (Lotus de Aur, Vază și Prunișor de Primăvară) at home. It was published in the 1980's. Of course, it is not as complete as the scholarly edition done by David Tod Roy, while still remarkable in its own right.

And as I used the English and the Romanian titles, I think it's fair to give you also the title in original: 金瓶梅 (Jīn Píng Méi).

Maybe I'll come back to it.

illustration from 17th-century Chinese edition
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:%E9%87%91%E7%93%B6%E6%A2%85%E6%A0%BC%E5%AD%90%E9%97%A8%E6%8F%92%E5%9B%BE2.JPG)
no copyright infringement intended


(A Life in Books)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Jean Béraud: La Pâtisserie Gloppe aux Champs-Elysées

Jean Béraud, La Pâtisserie Gloppe aux Champs-Elysées
1889
Musée Carnavalet
(posted on Facebook by Le peintre Jean Béraud)
no copyright infringement intended

Probablement l'un des tableaux les plus connus de Jean Béraud. La Pâtisserie Gloppe était située au 6 avenue des Champs-Elysées, dans le 8ème arrondissement de Paris (Le peintre Jean Béraud)

[Maybe one of the best known works by Jean Béraud. Pastry Gloppe was located at 6 Avenue des Champs-Elysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris]


Encore un superbe tableau de Jean Béraud, traité dans les tons gris-bruns, noirs et blancs, et toujours un chien, bien élevé, aux pieds de sa maîtresse, et qu'on devine à peine. Chien noir sur le fond noir de la robe. Le collier brillant attire l'oeil sur le chien. Même la petite fille, en robe grise et chapeau noir, se fond dans le décor (Geneviève Quiriny-Duckerts)

[Another beautiful painting by Jean Béraud, covered in gray-brown tones, black and white, as always a dog, well mannered, which we just guess the presence, at the feet of his mistress. Black dog on the black background of the dress. The brilliant necklace catches your eye on the dog. Even the little girl is there, in gray dress and black hat, into the background]



(Jean Béraud)

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Van Gogh, Jardin de l'Hôpital Saint Paul

Van Gogh, Jardin de l'Hôpital Saint Paul
oil on canvas, Nov 1889
Musée Folkwang, Essen
(published on Facebook by Deborah Schaffer-v)
no copyright infringement intended



(Van Gogh)

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lamartine: La Vie de Mahomet




Si la grandeur du dessein, la petitesse des moyens, l'immensité du résultat sont les trois mesures du génie de l'homme, qui osera comparer humainement un grand homme de l'histoire moderne à Mahomet ? Les plus fameux n'ont remués que des armes, des lois, des empires; ils n'ont fondé, quand ils ont fondés quelque chose, que des puissances matérielles, écroulées souvent avant eux. Celui-là a remué des armées, des législations, des empires, des peuples, des dynasties, des millions d'hommes sur un tiers du globe habité ; mais il a remué, de plus, des idées, des croyances, des âmes. Il a fondé sur un Livre, dont chaque lettre est devenue une loi, une nationalité spirituelle qui englobe des peuples de toutes les langues et de toutes les races, et il a imprimé, pour caractère indélébile de cette nationalité musulmane, la haine des faux dieux et la passion du Dieu un et immatériel... Philosophe, orateur, apôtre, législateur, guerrier, conquérant d'idées, restaurateur de dogmes rationnels, d'un culte sans images, fondateur de vingt empires terrestres et d'un empire spirituel, voilà Mahomet. A toutes les échelles où l'on mesure la grandeur humaine, quel homme fut plus grand ?


If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modem history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers, which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples and dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then-inhabited world; and more than that he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and souls.... His forbearance in victory, his ambition which was entirely devoted to one idea and in no manner striving for an empire, his endless prayers, his mystic conversations with God, his death and his triumph after death-all these attest not to an imposture, but to a firm conviction, which gave him the power to restore a dogma. This dogma was two fold: the unity of God and the immateriality of God; the former telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with the words. Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational beliefs, of a cult without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?



(Lamartine)

(Sufi)

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The United States of Eleven Nations

(Tufts Magazine)
no copyright infringement intended


So, here you go:

  • Yankeedom: founded by Puritans, valuing education and the common good (which can lead to valuing social engineering over personal freedom)
  • New Netherland: founded by Dutch settlers, no wonder a hub of global commerce valuing sophistication and keeping a global eye over the world
  • Midlands: founded by Quakers, they are pluralistic and organized around middle class; ethnic and religious purity are not priorities
  • Tidewater: founded by English colonists in what are today Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and North Carolina; tendency to respect authorities and value traditions
  • Greater Appalachia: founded by English, Irish, and Scottish settlers, valuing individual liberty, suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers
  • Deep South: the Dixie's value states' rights and local control versus federal powers
  • El Norte: a border region with the spirit of La Frontera, praising hard work and self-sufficiency
  • Left Coast: the epic of early adventurers is going on in Silicon Valley
  • Far West: a region built by industry on harsh inhospitable terrain - the guys there are intensely libertarian and deeply distrustful of big institutions
  • New France: the old French colonies in the South (around New Orleans) and North (toward Montreal) - among the most liberal on the continent, with unusually tolerant attitudes toward gays and people of all races and a ready acceptance of government involvement in the economy
  • First Nation: the lands that Native Americans succeeded to not give up, mainly in the extreme North (in Alaska and Northern Canada)
(Washington Post WorldViews, Tufts Magazine)



(Zoon Politikon)

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
at a campaign rally in Auburn, MA, Nov 2, 2012
photo: Twp
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elizabeth_Warren_Nov_2_2012.jpg)
no copyright infringement intended

Elizabeth Warren is the senior US Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Previously she has been a Harvard Law School professor specialized in bankruptcy law (after years of work within the US government, as well as in the academic field). She is an active consumer protection advocate whose work led to the conception and establishment of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (wiki).

In the late 2000's she started to be increasingly recognized as a very important public policy figure. Here are several marks of this recognition (wiki):

Interestingly, she voted as a Republican for many years saying, I was a Republican because I thought that those were the people who best supported markets. She states that in 1995 she began to vote Democratic because she no longer believed that to be true, but she says that she has voted for both parties because she believed that neither party should dominate (wiki).

Well, that's for the time being. Question is, what will she try in 2016? Will she be the one to break the ceiling? At least my fingers are crossed.



(Zoon Politikon)

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ion Pillat: Regăsire

(http://bookspot.ro/category/Teorie-literara.aspx)
no copyright infringement intended


Ating cu anii toamna și, precum
Pădurea mea din suflet își asterne
Frunziș brumat pe veștedele perne,
Tot ce mi-a fost străin s-a stins în drum.

Pieri coloarea verii: foc și fum —
Răsar arhitecturile eterne.
Din rămurișul alungat de ierne
Rămân coloane trainice de-acum.
M-am despoiat de lume și de mine,
Ca să-mi găsesc prin jertfă bogăția
În marmora cu-nfiorări senine.
Deasupra turmei ce grăbește-n moarte
Primind cununi de-o zi, eu am tăria
Să-mi hotărăsc nemuritoarea parte.





(Ion Pillat)

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Lamartine: Le Lac

(http://www.pointsdactu.org/article.php3?id_article=1684)
no copyright infringement intended



Ainsi, toujours poussés vers de nouveaux rivages,
Dans la nuit éternelle emportés sans retour,
Ne pourrons-nous jamais sur l'océan des âges
Jeter l'ancre un seul jour ?

Ô lac ! l'année à peine a fini sa carrière,
Et près des flots chéris qu'elle devait revoir,
Regarde ! je viens seul m'asseoir sur cette pierre
Où tu la vis s'asseoir !

Tu mugissais ainsi sous ces roches profondes,
Ainsi tu te brisais sur leurs flancs déchirés,
Ainsi le vent jetait l'écume de tes ondes
Sur ses pieds adorés.

Un soir, t'en souvient-il ? nous voguions en silence ;
On n'entendait au loin, sur l'onde et sous les cieux,
Que le bruit des rameurs qui frappaient en cadence
Tes flots harmonieux.

Tout à coup des accents inconnus à la terre
Du rivage charmé frappèrent les échos ;
Le flot fut attentif, et la voix qui m'est chère
Laissa tomber ces mots :

" Ô temps ! suspends ton vol, et vous, heures propices !
Suspendez votre cours :
Laissez-nous savourer les rapides délices
Des plus beaux de nos jours !

" Assez de malheureux ici-bas vous implorent,
Coulez, coulez pour eux ;
Prenez avec leurs jours les soins qui les dévorent ;
Oubliez les heureux.

" Mais je demande en vain quelques moments encore,
Le temps m'échappe et fuit ;
Je dis à cette nuit : Sois plus lente ; et l'aurore
Va dissiper la nuit.

" Aimons donc, aimons donc ! de l'heure fugitive,
Hâtons-nous, jouissons !
L'homme n'a point de port, le temps n'a point de rive ;
Il coule, et nous passons ! "

Temps jaloux, se peut-il que ces moments d'ivresse,
Où l'amour à longs flots nous verse le bonheur,
S'envolent loin de nous de la même vitesse
Que les jours de malheur ?

Eh quoi ! n'en pourrons-nous fixer au moins la trace ?
Quoi ! passés pour jamais ! quoi ! tout entiers perdus !
Ce temps qui les donna, ce temps qui les efface,
Ne nous les rendra plus !

Éternité, néant, passé, sombres abîmes,
Que faites-vous des jours que vous engloutissez ?
Parlez : nous rendrez-vous ces extases sublimes
Que vous nous ravissez ?

Ô lac ! rochers muets ! grottes ! forêt obscure !
Vous, que le temps épargne ou qu'il peut rajeunir,
Gardez de cette nuit, gardez, belle nature,
Au moins le souvenir !

Qu'il soit dans ton repos, qu'il soit dans tes orages,
Beau lac, et dans l'aspect de tes riants coteaux,
Et dans ces noirs sapins, et dans ces rocs sauvages
Qui pendent sur tes eaux.

Qu'il soit dans le zéphyr qui frémit et qui passe,
Dans les bruits de tes bords par tes bords répétés,
Dans l'astre au front d'argent qui blanchit ta surface
De ses molles clartés.

Que le vent qui gémit, le roseau qui soupire,
Que les parfums légers de ton air embaumé,
Que tout ce qu'on entend, l'on voit ou l'on respire,
Tout dise : Ils ont aimé !



le poème récité par Maria Casarès
(video by metrisch)


(Lamartine)

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Lamartine

Lamartine et ses petits lévriers italiens
portait par Henri Decaisne
Musée de Mâcon
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lamartine,_par_Decaisne.jpg)
no copyright infringement intended




(Le Parnasse des Lettres)

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Ion Pillat: Grădina între ziduri

(imagine publicată de Alya in blogul ei, De Profundis)
no copyright infringement intended


Ştiu bine, cei de-afară văd ziduri cenușii,
Nebănuind grădina în care m-am închis-
Doar pentru tine singur, ce nu poți să nu vii,
Copacii mei din suflet spre ceruri i-am trimis.


(Ion Pillat)

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