In Praise of Sleep: Selected Poems of Lucian Blaga
Commonwealth Books, Black Widow February 2019
The present volume includes the majority of Lucian Blaga's poetry written before the Communist era. Missing are only the posthumous poems. The genius of any poetry is fragile because it does not reside in any of its analytically identifiable components. Blaga's postwar poetry appears to have all the "Blagian" elements, but the animating breath is largely missing. The great silence took it back. In leaving out a large body of work by so neatly severing the earlier poet from his later self, I may be committing a sin Blaga did not. But I could not translate what failed to inspire passion in me, after living so intimately and for so long with what I love. For that, I beg to be forgiven.
“An original edition of these translations was published by Ohio University Press in 1989. A few months before the momentous end of the year that saw the collapse of the Soviet empire and the end of the dictatorship in Romania. I returned to my native country to report for NPR and ABC news on the bloody finale. Following the return of "normalcy," Blaga's poetry was openly read and received new attention. This book, long out of print, received a new reading by me, as well. I made changes to the translation, having to do mainly with my better knowledge of English. Blaga's poetry has grown more urgent and more profound in the decades following its first appearance. This phenomenon is the result of increasing attention to the art itself, but also to Blaga's pioneering engagement with the nonhuman. Romanian poetry, once a terra incognita, has become better known in the major languages of the world thanks to the explosion of translation's and fascination with the last century's roots of the avant garde.”