Daily Archives: 19 June 2008

Baciu’s Memories of Brasov: Introduction

From Praful de pe Tobă: Memorii 1918-1946, by Stefan Baciu (Editura Mele, 1980), pp. 3-4 (my translation):

From the Bank of Flowers to the Sandwich Archipelago

I write this autobiographical sketch in my study in Honolulu, in a spot on the globe where I would never have been able to imagine that I would live thirty years ago, when I was living in what the Nicaraguan poet Salomón de la Selva would call “the Romania of my birth.”

At this moment as I look outside, I hear a parrot sitting on a branch of the lemon tree in front of my window, while on the facing hillside one can see two Chinese cemeteries, their gravestones low and gray, hardly visible in the grass. Only occasionally, at the odd burial or religious ceremony, can one hear crackles and pops of devices designed to drive away bad spirits. In back of the hill rises a volcano long extinct—called Punchbowl in English, Puowaina in Hawaiian—in the crater of which lie the heroes fallen in battles in the Pacific, the Punchbowl National Cemetery. To the left and right of the cemetery stretch the infinite waters of the Pacific.

From below, in Pauoa Valley, where children play baseball and football, one hears the shouts of those leaping into the swimming pool, but the houses are all lost in the gardens of abundant greenery, especially in this year full of heavy and frequent rainfall.

I note these summary facts of a possible autobiography of tomorrow, not to rediscover my old self of yesterday and the day before, of Brasov, Bucharest, Bern, Rio de Janeiro and Seattle, because that I can do more easily through poetry.

I want, on the one hand, to fix certain guideposts for a possible autobiography sometime later, and—more importantly—I do it in order to avoid errors, omissions, misunderstandings or interpretations to which might be subjected the life of a man whose life unfolded over the last decades (1946–1980), in such countries and regions, in such terrains and latitudes, that any confusions could be explained as due primarily to lack of information.

In a world in which even some “experts” say that Mexico lies in “South America,” and in which it is seldom realized that the city of Honolulu is situated on the island of Oahu, it would not be remarkable some time in the future (and perhaps not all that long into the future) for legends to arise that I wish to prevent, at least to the extent I am able.

NOTE: I’ve translated Prundul Florilor, the former name of a street in Brasov, as ‘Bank of Flowers’, since the primary meaning for prund seems to be ‘gravel’ or ‘gravelly bank of a river’. But the German name for the same street in Brasov was Rosenanger ‘Rosemeadow’ (or ‘Rosedale’?). Better suggestions are welcome.

UPDATE: By coincidence, the Brasov country library has just started hosting a literary exhibit entitled Ştefan Baciu între Ulise şi Don Quijote.

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