Peasant love songs.

Bardezi by Ovidiu Balaban


by George Cosbuc, translated by Maurice Aisen

In the garden of my sweetheart
Sing two birds beautifully,
And the sun proudly shines,
And my darling sits and dreams.
Near the garden of my sweetheart
Runs a river clear and crystal
Where my darling sits and weeps.
When you are here, little man,
I dress all the time like a bride,
Wearing flowers and pearls
So you will like them.
Since you have gone away, little man,
The red belt and the tulip have vanished—
It is so sad.
Green leaf of the citron:
My little man has gone to the army;
He is gone and does not write to me,
Neither on the leaves, nor on the river,
Nor on the wings of the wind.

Inequality by Ovidiu Tutunaru

Bad, O mother, is fever,
But far, far worse is love.
For fever you can eat and drink,
But for love there is naught but pain.
From fever my mother can cure me,
But love is far from her care;
From fever the priest can pray me,
But not from the evil of love.
All of us learn this evil,
As did I a year from last spring.
The longing is slowly killing me—
Yes, love is an evil thing.

Photo taken by Paul Pop.

If you did not love me, little man,
God shall curse you for it.
You should marry nine times,
And you should have nine boys.
You should have a girl too—
She shall bring you water in prison,
Because when you left me
You broke my heart and my love.

Little man, tell me, is it true?
Be honest and tell me, please—
Do you love me or not?
If you like me only a little,
Take any road that you wish,
But never the one that leads to my house.

Cristian Bassa photographed the making of Doamna Care Plange.

Goodbye, darling, good luck!
Remain beautiful as a violet
In a glass on the table.

Beautiful girl with blonde hair,
When I see you I begin to lean
Like the leaves in the acacia
When the wind is blowing through them.
Like the leaves of the oak tree I lean
When the breeze is blowing through them.

I had a beautiful neighbor,
And a path to her garden;
But she went and got married
And said not a word to me.
I would have taken her myself!
If she had married three villages away,
It wouldn’t have hurt me so.
But she married a man down our street,
The third door from my mother’s home!
When I am in, I hear her voice;
When I go out, I see her face:
It makes my heart burn like fire.

You can find a PDF version of this poem online at the archives of Poetry magazine. Aisen wrote translated this poem as part of his “Roumainian Poems” series by Romanian poet George Cosbuc.

Drawing by Tonitza.

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