Ikebana, by Vasile Moldovan
(Târgu Mures, România: Editura Orion,
2005). In English. 65 pages, 5.5 x 8, perfectbound.
ISBN 973-8020-66-2. $15.00 postpaid from the author
at Str. Birnova, Nr.8, B1.M.110, Ap.9, Cod-051164,
In reviewing Vasile Moldovans
Ikebana (the Japanese word for the art of
flower arranging) a word must be said of what can
or cannot be accomplished in the art of translating
haiku from one language to another. As Hiag Akmakjian
said in his fi ne 1979 book, Snow Falling from
a Bamboo Leaf :The Art of Haiku, language
does not translate, only meaning does. This
being said, Moldovans haiku suffer from a
preoccupation by the Romanian translator with syntax,
colloquialisms, and word-for-word renderings from
Romanian into English. What can be accomplished
for the reader is a feeling of the original that
appeals to his or her sensibility. Faithfulness
to the original often has to be overlooked so that
the haiku, written for the eyes, is enjoyed by the
ear. Haiku have always been more difficult to translate
than other forms of poetry because of the brevity
of the form. One wrong choice of a word, a synonym,
or part of speech obscures the meaning in another
What Moldovan has accomplished with
these haiku is an understanding of his unique landscape
and the cultural connection that is quite different
from what English-speaking haijin are accustomed
to. Each region has its own characteristic names
of fauna and flora as well as occurrences. Added
to this, the Romanian people have a love of poetry
that dates back centuries. They also have had more
recently, but also in centuries past, a history
of social and political upheaval. The choice of
certain words and images suggest to this reader,
who visited Romania this past summer, that there
is a new Romanian consciousness emerging that is
consistent with the political reality of the newer
East European democracies.
Notwithstanding word choice and
misspellings there are a few haiku from Moldovans
fifth book of haiku that address the above considerations.
Here again we find remnants of the
old cultural values as a young man takes a
rose to be given to his date. In the second haiku
the artist muses in a symbolic
manner over the possibility of newfound freedoms.
We are less concerned
with the painters style, but rather the freedom
of expression and the fact that
even the colors of the landscape will change.
The above three haiku again suggest,
in a symbolic way, a hope for peace, yet the idea
of a scythe in hand reminds one of the recent past
regime and the hardships that resulted for the people.
Other elements in Moldovans
haiku are the preponderance in the use of light
and color, especially red. There is much to reflect
upon from both a phenomenological point of view
as well as the extra meaning that color can provide
in the way the above two elements are used.
For the most part, however, the
haiku in this book did not provide me with the kind
of awe that we usually associate with haiku that
capture a unique perception and moment of reality.
Excepting the above examples, the haiku were more
or less of the standard variety: immediate impressions
from nature. The translations do not help much;
if anything, they are detrimental to a broader meaning
to many of the haiku.