J is Jebeleanu, Eugen (Poet)


Romania has a wealth of folk tales, stories, and poetry. We’ll take a closer look at literary minds later in the challenge, but for the purpose of letter J, meet the great Eugen Jebeleanu.

Jebeleanu achieved international recognition with his poems about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima: Surîsul Hiroşimei (“The Smile of Hiroshima,” 1958). Couldn’t find an English version, but there’s a recital (with music and video) on You Tube.

Nationally he was known much earlier, with Schituri cu soare (“Settlements with Sun”), in 1929, the year he moved to Bucharest to study law. However, Jebeleanu’s principal literary activity was as journalist allied with the left-wing press.

After WWII he supported the new Communist leadership and promoted socialist realism. Most of his postwar poetry dealt with the struggle against fascism, the Romanian revolutionary tradition going back to 1848.

Despite his politics, Jebeleanu’s poetry rose above the level of propaganda with Ceea ce nu se uită (“What Cannot Be Forgotten,” 1945), and a poem written in honor of the historian and revolutionary Nicolae Balcescu.

In the same spirit of humanism as The Smile of Hiroshima, a visit to the site of the Czech village Lidice, which together with its inhabitants was destroyed during World War II, inspired his work for years.  

Although a supporter of the regime, he expressed alarm after the July Theses were issued in 1971 and was dropped from the Romanian Communist Party. 

I leave you with one of his poems — a short one.

The Saddest
translated by Matthew Zapruder

The saddest poem is the poem / Which is not written / Swallowed with knots stalked by customs officials and bridges / The one which cannot be contemplated / Not for anything ever / Keep that poem / She is surely the woman / Who will give birth in pain / And in her we shall each / Recognize ourselves.


Image: Eugen_Jebeleanu_Kiskőrös, Wikimedia, CC

The Saddest

by Eugen Jebeleanu
translated by Matthew Zapruder

The saddest poem
is the poem which is not written
swallowed with knots
stalked by customs offcials and bridges
the one which cannot be contemplated 
not for anything ever.

Keep that poem.

She is surely the woman
who will give birth in pain.

And in her we shall each 
recognize ourselves.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20153#sthash.sYoYpn36.dpuf


22 responses to “J is Jebeleanu, Eugen (Poet)

  1. The poem says it all very powerfully so. Thank you for this introduction to one of Romania’s literary minds.
    Have a great weekend!
    Garden of Eden Blog

  2. Interesting post, and strong, moving poem. Thanks for sharing, I had never heard of Jebeleanu before. I am struck by the last line; “and in her we shall each recognise ourselves”. Beautiful and painful words. http://detoutcoeurlimousin.blogspot.fr/2014/04/bon-journee-our-potential-for-love.html

  3. Thanks, Sylvia, for the introduction to this wonderful poet – clearly a conflicted man, which I think makes great poetry. I, too, have been to Lidice, and the experience has stayed with me every since.

  4. Great poem, and sad, sad history.
    Play off the Page

  5. Love that – the saddest poem is the poem which is not written…
    Very nice post, Silvia.
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

  6. A powerful writer, and I agree with Debi. Life in that huge change era must have been difficult and confusing.

  7. Very powerful words Silvia.

  8. heart breaking and breath taking poetry – sorry for the cliches – been a long day – choked me up

  9. I love Eastern European poets, though I’d never heard of Mr. Jebeleanu before. There just seems to be a special something about European poets that most U.S. poets don’t possess.

  10. I will definitely look him up. Powerful poem. xoxo, Denise

  11. Big smiles when I read your comment – Thank You

  12. Nice poem. I can relate. The most headache-inducing writing usually turns out to be my best work, like Hemingway said, something like, “Oh writing’s easy, you just sit down at the typewriter and bleed.”

  13. Oh thank you for sharing about this poet. I was unfamiliar with him.

  14. Wow. That poem at the end is powerful. Thanks for introducing me to Eugen Jebeleanu!

  15. I echo the above comments… a very moving poem indeed, I know so little of the eastern European writers but when I do read anything from that area of the world I am always moved by the honesty of their words.
    Loving the A to Z Challenge Maggie@expatbrazil.

  16. Thank you for the introduction – could you recommend any of his works/collections translated to English? I am not very familiar with Romanian writers/poets; I only know Marin Sorescu who was writing under very similar conflicted circumstances so I am curious to read more.

I welcome your thoughts.

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