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POETRY IN TRANSLATION (155): Marin SORESCU (1936-1996), ROMANIA – “Passport”

July 9th, 2016 · 1 Comment · Books, Diaspora, Education, Famous People, International Media, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Reviews, Translations

POETRY IN TRANSLATION (155): Marin SORESCU (1936-1996), ROMANIA – “Passport”

Marin Sorescu - cartoon by Stefan Popa

Marin Sorescu – cartoon by Stefan Popa

Marin SORESCU (1936-1996)
To cross the border
Between the sunflower
And the moonflower
Between the alphabet
Of handwritten events
And printed events.

To be friend of all atoms
Which form the light
To sing with the atoms which sing
To cry
With the atoms which die
To enter into all the days of one’s life
Without restriction
No matter whether they fall on one side or the other
Of the word

This passport
Is written in my bones
On my skull, femur, phalanges and spine
All arranged in a way
To make clear
My right to be man.


Translated from the Romanian by:
Constantin Roman (Peterhouse, Cambridge)


Published in:
Encounter, London, December 1972 –
“Three Poems by Marin Sorescu

Encounter Magazine

SHORT NOTE: Marin Sorescu (19 February 1936, Bulzești, County Dolj – d. 8 December 1996, Buchareșt, Romania) was a poet, playwright, prose writer, essayist and translator. He published more than 60 books, in 20 twenty different countries. After Ceausescu’s demise he was Minister of Culture from 1993 to 1995. Looking in retrospect, it is clear that under Communism Romanian denizen’s visits abroad, even to other Communist countries, were tightly controlled. The idea of being granted travel documents was a surreal transaction, limited exclusively to “ideologically reliable” members of the Politbureau and the higher echelons of the Communist Party members: in such context, Sorescu’s poem had a particular resonance for its defiant message. In retrospect it is amazing that it even got in print, although, by 1968 and the advent of the “Prague Spring”, Romania chose a degree of political independence from the Warsaw Pact countries and in particular from Soviet Russia.

Encounter was a literary magazine, in the United Kingdom, founded in 1953 by poet Stephen Spender (1909-1995) and journalist Irving Kristol (1920-2009). It was a largely an Anglo-American intellectual and cultural journal, originally associated with the anti-Stalinist left and ceased publication in 1991.

Constantin ROMAN, translator of Sorescu’s poems, was a Cambridge Scholar of Peterhouse (1969-1973). Together with Tim Cribb, Ben Knights and a group of students of English Literature, Roman organized an evening of Romanian Poetry in the auditorium of Churchill College Cambridge, an event introduced by professor George Steiner, FBA.


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