Nicolae Labiº


  The death of the deer


The drought has stifled every feather of wind,

The sun melted down on the earth, left behind

An empty, exhausted, blistering sky,

The buckets come up from the fountains all dry.

More and more over woods fires, fires,

Dance above savage, demoniac pyres.


I follow my father through the bushes uphill,

The fir-trees scrape me, withered up and evil,

Together, we start the deer hunting quest,

The hunting of hunger in the Carpathian forest.

Thirst ruins me. The thin string of water

Drip, drop, from the spout is sizzling on stone.

My temple is throbbing. I walk on another

Enormous and heavy, strange planet alone.


We wait in a place where, from strings of calm waves,

The streams still resound.

When the sun will be set, when the moon will rise, round,

One by one, in a line, up here,

they will come to drink, the deer.


I say “Father, I`m thirsty!” he hushes me at once,

Bemusing water, how clearly you glow!

I`m tied by thirst to the soul meant to die

At an hour forbidden by custom and by law.


The valley rustles with a withered hiss,

Crosswise the sky, a dire twilight lit

the clouds, and far, above the cliff,

blood drips. My chest is red, as if

I wiped my hands of blood on it.


With bluish flames through ferns, as in a dream,

Astounded stars begin to gleam

Sacrifice of my woods, oh, beautiful prey,

How I wish you did not come, how I pray!


She bounces lightly then she stops

And looks with caution through the grass

Her slender nostrils stirred the water

In circles shimmering like brass.


A hazy fear glared deep inside her eyes

I knew that she would suffer;

I knew that she would die,

As she stood there, still, she was the sheer

Myth of the maid embodied in a deer.


White cherry flowers, high above her

The moon was sifting on her fur.

Oh, how I wish, oh, how I pray,

My father`s gun to miss its prey!


The valleys roared. Knelt, in the stream,

She raised her head, as in a dream

She watched the sky, the moon, the stars

Then fell and water gleamed with scars.

A blue bird rushed, in a tree, unknown

The deer`s life has softly flown,

Crying like birds when they depart

And their fall migrations start.


I went to close her eyes, below

So sadly laid her antlers shadow

I startled livid when, suddenly, offbeat,

My father screeched with joy: “Meat, we have meat!



I say “Father, I`m thirsty!” he nods that I may drink.

Bemusing water, how sullenly you glow!

I feel tied by thirst to the soul that died

At an hour forbidden by custom and by law…

But our laws are useless and dead

When our life hangs up on a thread

And custom, law and pity are quickly gone

When sis` is sick and hungry at home.


The smokes comes out of my father`s gun

The leafage in flocks starts to run!

My father kindles a terrible fire

The wood seems now darker and higher!

I pick up from the grass, as in a dream,

A tiny bell with silver gleam,

My father, from the spit rends with his nails

The deer`s heart and her entrails.


You, heart? I`m hungry! I want to live, I wish, although…

Forgive me deer, forgive me virgin-doe!

I`m tired. How tall is now the fire! The woods, how deep!

I cry. What does my father think? I eat and cry. I eat!


Translated by Paul Doru Mugur




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