One of My Favourite Poems (with Translation)

I was tending the bar at dVerse Poets Pub yesterday and gave a poetry prompt which had most participants puzzled, bemused, scratching their heads… or labelling me crazy. I asked for a homophonic translation of a Romanian poem, which means a translation based on sound and random similarity of word patterns. It was really interesting to see all the different interpretations of the same poem. As one comment said, it was the Rohrschach of poetry – in that same inkblot of a poem we each saw our own obsessions, thoughts, fears, hopes and personalities.

The poem itself, however, is one of my favourite poems in any language. It is by Romanian poet (also playwright, philosopher, essayist) Lucian Blaga and it’s a lyrical love poem tinged with melancholy. I remember reciting it with my high-school sweetheart as we walked under the linden trees lining the boulevards leading from our school to the park. ‘Florarul’ (the flowering one) is the old folk name for the month of May.


Risipei se dedă Florarul

Ne-om aminti cândva târziu
de-aceasta întâmplare simplă,
de-aceasta bancă unde stam
tâmplă fierbinte lânga tâmplă.

De pe stamine de alun,
din plopii albi, se cerne jarul.
Orice-nceput se vrea fecund,
risipei se deda Florarul.

Polenul cade peste noi,
în preajmă galbene troiene
alcătuieste-n aur fin.
Pe umeri cade-ne şi-n gene.

Ne cade-n gură când vorbim,
şi-n ochi, când nu găsim cuvântul.
Si nu ştim ce păreri de rău
ne tulbură, pieziş, avântul.

Ne-om aminti cândva târziu
de-această întâmplare simplă,
de-aceasta bancă unde stam
tâmplă fierbinte lânga tâmplă.

Visând, întrezărim prin doruri –
latente-n pulberi aurii –
păduri ce ar putea sa fie
şi niciodată nu vor fi.

It’s been set to music several times, here is one version of it by Nicu Alifantis in concert:

And here is the translation, courtesy of Cristina at the blog Fantasy Pieces (with some of my own tweaks). She also provides a bit of commentary on this poem.

May Gives Itself with Sweet Abandon


We’ll remember someday later,
This simple moment, so fine,
This very bench where we are seated,
Your burning temple next to mine.

From hazel stamens, cinders fall
White as the poplars that they land on,
Beginnings yearning to be fertile,
May gives itself with sweet abandon.

The pollen falls on both of us,
Small mountains made of golden ashes
It forms around us, and it falls
On our shoulders and our lashes.

It falls into our mouths when speaking,
On eyes, when we are mute with wonder
And there’s regret, but we don’t know
Why it would tear us both asunder.

We’ ll remember someday later,
This simple moment, so fine,
This very bench where we are seated
Your burning temple next to mine.

In dreams, through longings, we can see—
All latent in the dust of gold
Those forests that perhaps could be—
But that will never, ever grow.

So that’s the literal translation… But, to be honest, I liked some of the free associations and unknowing translations even more!

35 thoughts on “One of My Favourite Poems (with Translation)”

  1. Marina Sofia – What a compelling poem. At the same time it’s both joyful (about love) and has a touch of sadness and regret. I love the imagery in it too. I’m so glad you shared this with us.

  2. The poetic responses were all over the spectrum, as they should be; thanks for the peek at the real translation. Your prompt was triple-creative, even though it seemed
    to befuddle some; turning out to be real fun.

  3. love the melancholy and the images…the pollen on the lashes…the wonder and longing… such a fun prompt marina…it was stretching me way beyond my comfort zone…which is good…smiles

    1. It’s good to stretch muscles at times, isn’t it? dVerse has always encouraged me to do that, so I thought I’d give a little stretching exercise back…

    1. Funnily enough, the high school boyfriend I used to recite this with has also become a poet… Lucian Blaga was clearly raising the next generation of Romanian poets… even if some of them don’t write in Romanian.

  4. cool…and def conveys a story…
    i found…

    From hazel stamens, cinders fall
    White as the poplars that they land on,
    Beginnings yearning to be fertile,
    May gives itself with sweet abandon.

    to be a really cool stanza. ha. i wanna see you do a transliteration now though…smiles.

  5. Oh my goodness Marina but I wasn’t anywhere near close, as I suspected. This was such a fun prompt to try, thanks for putting it up.
    It is actually a beautiful poem now I know what it really means as opposed to ‘mint candy tarts’….lol

    1. I loved your mint candy tarts – and lots of people seemed to go on about pyjamas for some reason, which was very amusing…
      Glad you enjoyed it though – I really enjoyed seeing all the huge variety of interpretations!

    1. I wanted to study Norwegian at university, so am instinctively attracted to Scandinavian languages because I sort of half-understand (and misunderstand) them. Thanks for posing a counter-challenge!

  6. It certainly is a beautiful poem in this translation. And amazing how close some people came.

  7. This is really interesting Marina. I’ve not heard of homophonic translations. I suppose this is what we hear when we are sung to as babies. It’s all just noise that we have to make sense off but some of it is very beautiful noise.

    1. That’s a really interesting comparison. I also have to admit listening to songs in foreign languages (Brazilian ones are a particular favourite) and making up my own words as I go along. The music and the sound of the words put such wonderful thoughts in my mind… Probably 100% wrong, but still…

  8. A beautiful poem and a lovely memory for you to associate with it. Even though I didn’t follow the rules, I really enjoyed being inspired by the prompt

  9. Yes, thank you for sharing, Marina; a great exercise for us and a new old poem to read over and again, especially the stanza repeated.

Do share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.