BALLAD FOR THE OLD FIDDLER


The famous Romanian fiddler Nicolae Neacșu


 
 
 
 
BALLAD FOR THE OLD FIDDLER
 
                                        In memory of Nicolae Neacșu
 
the toothless old fiddler with the swarthy face
seemed peeled off a painting by Chagall
I still see him floating in the vast sky of childhood
a copper angel among painted houses horses cats and butterflies
but with a violin in his hand he was like a tiger
at weddings baptisms funerals and village dances
 
his music swelled your heart to its fullest
 
I don’t sing he whispered to me secretly I let myself be sung
out of all your longings and sorrows
out of all the grandmothers’ stories and the rhythmic clamor
the gallop of horses and the wings of butterflies
everything you listen to is always in you
life either contains music or you no longer live it
 
his music swelled your heart to its fullest
 
I still see the old fiddler with the dark complexion
in my childhood sky covered with Oltenian carpets
with a thin short mustache like Johnny Depp
a violin wizard drawing effects from other worlds
with a horse’s hair tied to one of the strings
which he pulled from time to time to the rhythm of the song
 
his music swelled your heart to its fullest
 
I see him again in his black suit and the red tie with white dots
his shabby felt hat pulled over one ear
the old fiddler sang the sadness of the world in its pure form
the one that penetrates deep into your bones and gut
the violin is light in the hand but heavy when singing he said
this exhausting sweet craft is not taught but filched
 
his music swelled your heart to its fullest
 
the old fiddler didn’t just sing
but became a creature with a soul possessed by notes
who existed in a traumatic catharsis of euphony
he swayed to and fro and rolled his eyes
a cloud of stardust rose from his violin
over the world of crucifixes totems and overlapping columns of eyes
 
his music swelled your heart to its fullest

Constantin Severin
 
Suceava, May 13, 2020

 
(c) C.S, English version by Constantin Severin&Slim FitzGerald
About Nicolae Neacșu (Culai):

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/sep/16/guardianobituaries.arts

About Constantin Severin

Constantin Severin (constantinseverin.ro) is a Romanian writer and, as a visual artist, the founder and promoter of the award-winning concept known as archetypal expressionism. He is the author of eight books of poetry, essays, and novels, and his poems have been published by major Romanian and international literary magazines. He is one of the editors of the French cultural magazine Levure littéraire.
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2 Responses to BALLAD FOR THE OLD FIDDLER

  1. Yes!
    I very much enjoyed this poem. It gave me life again.
    Thank you.

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