Thursday, 10 July 2008

kitchen elegy

oh, a, most beautiful a, do you remember that we talked once about the love we both shared, our love for kitchens? I thought then: somebody should write an Ode to the Kitchen. Now I found its Elegy. even our teas are here, the first one that I made for you here, the rose black tea you drink now out of a cup that has a crooked handle.

O, vechi şi dragi bucătării de vară,
Simt iar în gură gust suav de-amiază
Şi în tristeţea care mă-nconjoară
Din nou copilăria mea visează:
Ienibahar, piper prăjit pe plită,
Peşti groşi ce-au adormit în sos cu lapte,
Curcani păstraţi în zeama lor o noapte
Spre o delicateţe infinită,
Ciuperci cât canapeaua, în dantele,
icre cu bob bălos ce ochiu-şi cască,
Aluaturi tapisate crescând grele
Într-o dobitocie îngerească,
Moi miezuri de ficaţi în butoiaşe
De ou de melc, înlăcrămate dulce,
Mujdeiuri ireale, şunci gingaşe
Când sufletu-n muştar vrea să se culce,
şi-n ceainice vădindu-şi eminenţa
Prin fast de irizări şi toarte fine
Ceaiuri scăzute pînă la esenţa
Trandafirie-a lucrului în sine!

Emil Brumaru (Elegie)

O, summer kitchens, cherished, old, and dear,

I taste again the vesper's dainty snacks,
And in the sadness that surrounds me here,
My childhood dreams again of scrumptious stacks:
Of juniper and peppercorn with bite,
Fat fish that fell asleep in saucy cream,
Whole turkeys marinated overnight
Until their tenderness is quite extreme—
The mushrooms—sofa-sized and dressed in lace,
Fish eggs with slimy grain in their vicinity,
Upholstered doughs which rise with heavy grace,
In an angelic, stupefied bovinity,
Soft liver bits in barreled juicy splendor,
Glazed by the sweetest tears of snail egg custard,
Surreal garlic sauce, and hams so tender
Your soul will want to go to sleep in mustard,
While teapots proudly show through beamy glass
With iridescent pomp, so very slick,
Fine teas boiled down until the very last
And rosy essence of das Ding an sich!

(Elegy, trans. Cristina Hanganu-Bresch)


  1. Hi

    Kitchen elegy is a fine title but that is as far as i can venture about it.
    re your comments about Stavrogin, i read it around the same age too, in fact all the russian greats which later formed a defining moment as far as my reading then was concerned. Stavrogin, i was reminded these days bcoz i have been reading Dostoevsky's diaries. thus the quote.
    he is the most enigmatic of figures, and not as garrulous as his protagonists usually are. for eg, he never lectures like Karamazov. he remains distant.

    About Coleridge, of the romantics, he is the most sensitive, the most dark. and his xanadu poem, after which my own blog is named has the following lines.....

    But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
    Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
    A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
    As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
    By woman wailing for her
    demon-lover !

    lines 3,4, and 5 are just sublime and i don't use the word sublime easily. for me, without the above lines, the poem does not exist.
    it is unfortunate that you don't like his poetry but maybe you might change your mind.
    and, thanks for visiting.
    photography, i think is a dark art like poetry. photographs melt distances, distances that creep like monster catastrophes between people and places. i do not subscribe any late capitalistic angle towards photography at least and here, i distance myself from the frankfurt school.

    but, i am still trying to convert myself towards this form because a photograph is a very faithless thing. sometimes. they sometimes lie.

  2. kubla, hi
    I agree on stavrogin. But I am afraid to read the novel again, maybe now I would see everything through different eyes and I don't want this first magic to be dispelled.

    re: coleridge, for whom is it unfortunate that I don't like him, for me or for our 'friendship'? :-)
    I just think he is too verbose too often, and his verses are a too transparent vehicle for his philosophical views, but this is true for so many romantic writers... still, xanadu is different, and if I were to use the word sublime, I would reserve it for: 'And all who heard should see them there,
    And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
    His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
    Weave a circle round him thrice,
    And close your eyes with holy dread,
    For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of Paradise.'

    why does the "lie" of photographs bother you so much? is it not enough that they are beautiful? or doesn't their beauty make them true as well? didn't another romantic soul - who, by the way, seems to me to be more sensitive than coleridge, if such comparisons could be done - say: Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all, You know on earth, and all you need to know?

  3. truth is beauty, agreed; am not so sure beauty is truth.

    as for the romantics, my mother almost estranged me on this issue; she loves keats, shelley, byron specifically. i prefer the narrative/ epic styles of tennyson and arnold (sohrab -rustom for example). I like coleridge though - kubla khan is a lovely poem; i like ancient mariner as well - lovely alliteration - i remember the lines - they stayed in my mind for a long long time; even at first reading. typically, he's the mother's least favorite in the genre...

  4. at this late hour I am afraid I don't see things so clearly anymore, as if I had ever done it :-)
    but right now I feel that beauty is truth, not so sure about truth being beauty though :-) and zuma, this applies to your sketches as well...

  5. ahh.. it is established then, you are a true romantic!

  6. and what is the tone behind your ahh? :-) is this good or bad? or just the satisfaction of someone who managed to make an accurate diagnosis? [or what he thinks to be one, anyway :-P]. it is so funny, I have recently had a big argument with a friend accusing me exactly of the contrary - that I am a true modern, with no understanding of the romantic Weltanschauung (how do you call this in english? world view?)