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This review is taken from PN Review 55, Volume 13 Number 5, May - June 1987.

STANESCU AND STOICA Nichita Stanescu, Ask the circle to forgive you: Selected Poems 1964-1979 translated by Mark Irwin and Mariana Carpinisan (The Globe Press) £3.00 pb;
Ian Stoica, Gates of the moment, with the original en face, translated by Brenda Walker and Andrea Deletant (Forest Books) £5.00 pb.

The poetry of Nichita Stanescu was little-known in England previous to his impressive performance at the Poetry International Festival in London in 1971. A year earlier the Eminescu press of Bucharest had produced an English version of his most ambitious work, the Eleven Elegies of 1966, published when Stanescu was thirty-three. The Elegies were subsequently included, in translations by Peter Jay and Petru Popescu, in the excellent Anvil collection entitled The Still Unborn About The Dead (1975). Ask the circle to forgive you, which includes the poem from which Anvil took their title and which is apparently the first selection from Stanescu's poetry to be published in the USA, confirms the impression created by its predecessors, and leaves one in no doubt that he was the finest Romanian poet of his time. The translators have very sensibly avoided duplicating what remains available elsewhere (except as regards two 'Songs' and the eleventh, last and most separable of the Elegies), with the result that Stanescu figures forth as by far the most considerable and persuasive poetic ambassador for his country and his language since the death of Tudor Arghezi. Sadly, Stanescu's own death has subsequently intervened, transforming what was intended as an act of homage into something more like a service of memorial. Since he was certainly as gifted as any of the better-known poets of Eastern Europe, it would be no less than his due if someone somewhere were prepared to take on the arduous but rewarding business of compiling ...


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