George Vulturescu: What Vision Cannot Stand
A tourist map of key points of interest in the George Vulturescu poetry-scape would feature a number of salient features that his poetry has developed over the course of a quarter-century career of increasing depth and metaphysical complexity.
The first feature – where the map metaphor naturally derives – is his upper-case North, an abstract, mystical dimension as well as a literal and biographical lower-case coordinate. The Stones of the North, almost living crags on which, fatefully, prophetically, lightning incises its script and where wolves range in the forests, are coterminous with underlying geographical realities of the region of Satu Mare county in Romania’s north and, especially, the hamlet of Tireac, where Vulturescu was born and grew up. As to many Romanian authors raised in a rural world, village life and customs become a kind of mythical, eternal realm populated by a circle of voices – a kind of dramatic chorus – and filled with traditions of inherited folk wisdom side by side with ironic commonalities of social life.
Second, the motif of blindness – as a boy in his childhood village, Vulturescu lost the sight of one eye – entails the paradox that the blind eye ‘inside us’ sees beyond, and through, the external world and, moreover, ‘knows to distinguish / sick, sour letters from letters suckled on the truth …’ The poet’s half-blindness is amplified by the recurrent presence of Row, the blind man, whom Vulturescu makes the voice of ‘When the Forest Dies.’ Row is a seer of ‘a thousand visions.’ In ‘The Addition of Contour,’ likewise, the icon painter Ioachim fills a parallel oracular role: ‘I do not make use of my eyes but of what burns within them …’
This brings up a final, and basic, concern in this tour of Vulturescu country: letters, words, poetry, art, and the role of the imagined, the esthetic, the psychologically deep, in uncovering and representing truth. His notion of truth is innately spiritual. In a richly suggestive, humorous story characteristic of Vulturescu’s poetry, Ioachim, who ‘can feel the flame of the stones in the wall …’ tells his disobedient apprentice, the young Vulturescu, ‘the addition / of contour is faith, my son …’ And the poem gives Father Ieronim its riddling last words: ‘Blinding, says the Apostle, is what vision / cannot stand …’
– Adam J. Sorkin
When the Forest Dies “Except for a stone, no one is innocent.” (Hegel) The wolf will meet his end, the forest whispers to me as I pass through the junipers. A thousand visions of the North have I had, but I, Row, the blind man, did not return. Lightning does not toy with you, its flame does not break open stones, oh Lord, I cannot be saved from their violet folly. Today above the Stones of the North there was no raven, no vulture, no crane. Among the insects, clays and wild beasts, among the leaf stalks of the lecherous weeds and the strawberry plant runners was debauchery without sex: skin upon skin, bark upon bark, carapace upon carapace, scale upon scale, tooth upon tooth. Today above this sleet a black eye arose: it hung over the pines, fixed in space, a bachelor of death. The sun did not make it blink, its shadow did not fall over all things and living creatures. At noon it threw itself upon the necks of the roe deer, it had claws with which it choked the martens in the undergrowth, it plunged into the river waters and caught fish, with its beak it pecked the stones and scattered the sand beneath their skins into the wind. “It is not an eye,” Row, the blind man, told me. “It is a letter from an unfinished poem which set forth to hunt for the other lean ones. In the unfinished poems the letters turn vengeful: the lean devour the fat, the wet guzzle down the dry, the singed set on fire the green and unripe…” I know: a thousand visions I had inside us are both the finished poem and the unfinished one inside us are the raven on the Stones of the North and the dust on the stones of the road inside us is the eye that knows to distinguish sick, sour letters from letters suckled on the truth of our nights as only the wolves’ eyes know when the forest dies.
Când moare pădurea „În afară de pietre, nimeni nu e inocentă” (Hegel) Lupul va avea un sfârşit, îmi şopteşte pădurea când trec printre jnepeni. O mie de viziuni ale Nordului am avut, dar nu m-am întors, eu Row, orbul. Fulgerele nu ţin de urât, flacăra lor nu deschide pietrele, dar nu mă mântui, Doamne, de sminteala lor violetă. Azi nu era deasupra Pietrelor Nordului nici un corb, nici un vultur, nici un cocor. Între gângănii, luturi şi fiare, între peţiolurile de ierburi lascive şi stolonii de căpşunici era o curvăsărie fără sex: piele pe piele, coajă pe coajă, carapace pe carapace, solz pe solz, dinte pe dinte. Din zloata asta, azi se ridică deasupra un ochi negru: plana peste pini, ţintuit, celibatar al morţii. Soarele nu-l făcea să clipească, umbra nu i se împrăştia peste lucruri şi vietăţi. Pe la amiază se aruncă la gâtul căprioarelor, avea gheare cu care sugruma jderii în tufişuri, plonja în apa râurilor şi înşfăca peştii, ciocănea cu pliscul în pietre şi nisipul de sub coaja lor se răsfira în vânt. „ Nu e ochi, îmi zice Row, orbul. E o literă dintr-un poem neterminat care-a ieşit să vâneze pentru celelalte slabe. În poemele neterminate literele devin malefice: cele slabe le mănâncă pe cele grase, cele umede le beau pe cele uscate, literele arse le aprind pe cele verzi...” Ştiu: o mie de viziuni am avut în noi e şi poemul terminat şi cel neterminat în noi e corbul de pe Pietrele Nordului şi praful de pe pietrele drumurilor în noi e ochiul care ştie să deosebească literele strepezi, bolnave de literele alăptate cu adevărul nopţilor noastre cum numai ochii lupilor ştiu când moare pădurea.