Jaws of Eternity

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Heartbreaking Paintings and Poems from Communist Prisons in Romania — II

DAYS

by

Radu Gyr

Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Monday

Neutral days without form,

Like a great fog

Over the landscape

Good morning, prison cell!

Good night, prison bars!

I’d smash you as a mastiff in his fangs

I’d rend you with my teeth, O Cell!

I stand in Time terribly naked

With my soul planted in liquid eternity,

Like an atoll in an ocean

Beaten by torrid winds…

Dungeon, dungeon, mad fortress,

How my hate would set fire to you!

Life, life outside,

How dare you dance in my dreams like a puppet!

Tuesday,Wednesday,Friday – what day is it?

the week is a dead amassment;

My months pass through no calendar,

My island is on no map.

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday – The devil take you!

Stinking days – Stagnant days,

Here in the jaws of eternity

Who shall count your dark hundreds?

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HUNGRY

by

Nichifor Crainic

 

If ever I was a cluster of grapes,

today I am residue left by the press.

Into the fathomless hunger in me

pour some drop of juice.

I feel how my body is melting away,

a soup of amaranth would warm it.

If touched by a blade of grass

in a flash I’d be green.

At least let my phantom arm

pick an apple from a tree.

It will fill my mouth with aroma

and I would truly live.

In the country of sheep folds and bread

I dream of mushroom soup.

Let me shelter with the dogs

near the heaven of a bowl of terci.*

On the depth of my hunger

blind deserts open up.

When the last spoonful is eaten

I drop over my bowl and spoon.

O God, You Who

out of two fishes and five loaves

made mountains of food

and satisfied thousands of poor

Repeat the miracle, O Good One,

and satisfy thousands of mouths.

Listen also to my prayer,

Give me the basket of crumbs.

* terci – a thin gruel often given to dogs


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JESUS IN THE NIGHT

by

Radu Gyr

This night Jesus entered my cell.

O how sad, how tall was Christ!

The moon followed Him into my cell

And made Him taller, sadder still.

He sat by me upon my mat;

“Put your hand upon my wounds.”

On His ankle there were scars from sores and rust

As if He too had worn chains once…

His hands were like lilies upon a grave,

His eyes as deep as forests;

His garments whitened by the moon,

Silvering in His hands old wounds.

Sighing, He stretched His weary bones

Upon my lousy mat;

In His sleep He shone forth, but the heavy bars

Lengthened upon Him like rods.

I rose from beneath my gray blanket.

“Lord, from whence come you? Out of which eternity?”

Jesus put His finger to His lips

And signed me to be still.

My cell seemed like a mountain peak;

Rats and roaches swarmed around;

I felt my head fall heavy upon my hand

And I slept, a thousand years…

When I awoke from my heavy trance

The straw smelled of roses;

I was in my cell and there was moonlight

But Jesus was nowhere.

“Where are you, Lord?” I cried between the bars.

Across the moon came drifts of mist…

I touched myself, and found upon my palms

The sign of His nails.


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VISIT 

by

Radu Gyr

The exhausted wind froze

like a bow on a cracked violin.

Last night an angel knocked in my door,

his voice weak, his tread tired.

I don’t know if he came from heaven

or some earthly cross

but he looked at me with wounded eyes,

trembling with cold when I welcomed him.

In his eyes of strange god

it was as if some grave illness battled

and he gazed at me with blood-filled eyes

and all that night he wept upon my breast.

In the morning I found him no more.

vestiges of red footprints faded from my door.

Far away in the sky on a cracked violin

the wind fell like a broken bow.

*

Pitesti Prison — Gulag

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Poems from Communist Prisons by Mother Alexandra

Foreword

Within this booklet are a few poems originally written in Romanian, chosen from a large collection, POEZII DIN INCHISORI, edited by Zahu Pana, published by CUVANTUL ROMANESC, 1982

They were written or rather composed by political prisoners who had no paper on which to write. They were memorized by those who survived, and finally spirited out to the free West. Remarkable in that they are true poetry of the soul, they express various emotions of those unjustly imprisoned by the Communist Party, for the crime of independent thought. None of these poets were criminals. They were philosophers, theologians (lay or clergy), generals, intellectuals of all sorts, factory workmen and tillers of the soil. Women and even children shared the same fate.

Source: https://orthodoxyinottawa.wordpress.com/poems-from-communist-prisons/

And http://www.romanianstudies.org/content/2012/11/poetry-in-translation-cxlvi-sergiu-mandinescu-1926-1964-romania-prison-warder-suflet-de-calau

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Faces of Freedom, Lives of Courage

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Faces of Freedom, Lives of Courage

By Thomas Sears & Radu Cristea

Faces of Freedom, Lives of Courage is a fragment of communist Romania’s history seen through the unique and shocking experiences of nine individuals. Leontina, a nineteen-year-old student who hides a letter addressed to Radio Free Europe that was thrust into her hands by an acquaintance who was being pursued by the Securitate. This naiveté leads to interrogation, beatings, torture and imprisonment in one of many of Romania’s extermination camps. Razvan, a German professor who, at a great danger to himself, took pictures of the army firing on unarmed, peaceful demonstrators in Cluj Napoca on December 21, 1989. Grigore, a law student after WWII, who was imprisoned by the Securitate in an effort to eliminate “resistance groups,” and beaten and tortured for a year before his official trial, which sentenced him to many years of hard labor. This book provides interviews of those above as well as 6 other individuals whose lives were drastically changed while living under communism and later under the vicious regime of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu.

http://www.amazon.com/Faces-Freedom-Lives-Courage-Thomas/dp/1625103859

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For more information please watch:

(a) the trailer of the book at :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqX9lSy7Kpg

(b) excerpts of the nine individuals’/prisoners’ interviews—unique and shocking experience at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tTJ88hpG48&index=2&list=PL1H1BhlE_PRnyYShr0KUILeITD474uQHd

(c) Jon R. Kennedy, author, speaker, missionary at large, interview of the authors in Romania at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLRP_dYDb74

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Traced Through Mud

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Heartbreaking Paintings and Poems from Communist Prisons in Romania — I

*

Prison Warder

by

Sergiu MANDINESCU

A muffled night

a bottomless abyss

a peacock’s cry

that never goes amiss.

Great panthers watching in the night

and tigers ready for the pounce,

the pythons flawlessly advance

a path so trite.

The shadow’s silence so profound

fills to the brim the darkest mind –

a jungle full of beasts of any kind,

but human soul is nowhere to be found!

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Glory

by

Radu Budisteanu

Blessed be suffering

which brings man out of a flat groove –

swift sling hurled at a Goliath,

tree in which knowledge is born.

Blessed be suffering.

Without it, good earth would be clay,

the heart would not catch the murmur of a tear

and sin would not know what contrition is.

Blessed be suffering.

If there were not death, would there be love?

Value is given to all by separation,

fruit in the hidden furrow of the passing rays.

Blessed be suffering,

its breast a resting place, a caress upon the brow,

the strong altar screen of the sense let it be,

archway through which alone desire passes.

Blessed be suffering

fruit of the hidden furrow of a passing ray

soul with large embracing arms

like an all enveloping mantle.


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Unwritten Letters

by

Radu Gyr

Our life often lies hidden

in a humble corner of paradise,

in letters which were never sent us

by a hand that never wrote them.

We know not what we’d have the pages say,

what unwritten love song

but the hand which does not write us,

at all times we hold in a dream.

And the phrases that do not come,

in memory’s eye become ever dearer

and that hand which gave me light

as blossom upon my heart I hold.

And thus through the door crack,

we watch with unquenchable longing

for letters that were never sent

by a hand that did not write them.


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Birthday wishes

by

Radu Gyr

For your birthday

I don’t know what

To bring you as a gift.

Bruised upon my bones

My skin only do I have.

Since I have pulled in harness,

Since I have sighed in yoke,

All that was plenteous

Has melted away as snow.

The owls hoot,

the darkness deepens;

The nails on my hands

Grow long for retribution…

grow you,too,

My timid voice,

Grow as a djinn,

Grow as a great bird;

Gather in your flight

And bring to the assailant

The crying of orphans,

The suffocating voice of mothers

Drowned in tears, the mourning of the homeless.

Hate of the whole country

Rise up, now!

Master your curses,

Doom this day!

Curse it with fire and brimstone

For the savage beast

That is bore,

Over the horizon to rise

And with his horns

The world to overthrow.

O my mild voice,

Grow strong, little by little,

As a spring grows

In volume, increasing,

As down the mountains it falls.

Become a sickle;upon his brown

Bludgeon the beast!

O my voice, grow! From the forest swell

Out of the felled woods,

Out of the deserted villages,

Out of the dried-up oil-wells,

Grow out of golden grain

That is taken over the foreign roads,

Grow out of the ruins,

Sound from the depths of prison dungeons,

There where rots in chains

All that stands firm in the land

And is about to die…

Out of gaunt and livid beings

Arise, open eagle’s wings;

Soar over the foe –

Dirty bloodsuckers!

Fly over frontiers

Which have not yet been stolen,

Pass cities and villages

Where in the dead of night

Whispered Christian prayers

Can still be heard

Cross as best you can

The endless steppes

And the sad waters;

Over forests and towns

Look for and follow paths

Traced through mud.

Go far!

Fly as the genii in the legends

Until you come to

Imperial courts

Without royal faces,

Barbaric monasteries

Without altars,

Without God.

Rise, O myvoice,

Lift yourself

Upon wings of fire

In heavenly heat,

And fall back as a tunderbolt!

Blast the citadel

of the beast’s den!

Seed of his seed destroy!

In the land and in eternity,

A word of execration

Let his name be!

Let perish in the mold

All which he stole!

His dust and ashes

Let the earth swallow!

May my unbounded hate

Burn up Satan,

Ana’s* brother!

Thunder blast him!

In scum putrify him!

O heaven,

On his birthday,

Satan’s birthday –

Ana’s* brother –

What offering have you

Sent him, John Doe?

*Ana – Ana Pauker , born in Romania, lived in Russia , an intimate friend of Stalin, an all-powerful one in Romania until the postumous fall of Stalin.