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Water: no matter how much, there is still not enough

Sunday, 14 December, 2014

“Just as I can’t give up smoking because I don’t smoke, I can’t give up writing because I have no talent.” So said Marin Sorescu, the Romanian poet, who retained his sense of humour despite the best efforts of Ceauşescu’s censors. In fact, he could even see a bright side of censorship: “You’re sure to find a pair of faithful and attentive readers.” In partnership with Ioana Russell-Gebbett, Seamus Heaney, the acclaimed Irish poet, who died last year, produced this translation of a Sorescu jewel.

Fountains in the sea

Water: no matter how much, there is still not enough.
Cunning life keeps asking for more and then a drop more.
Our ankles are weighted with lead, we delve under the wave.
We bend to our spades, we survive the force of the gusher.

Our bodies fountain with sweat in the deeps of the sea,
Our forehead aches and holds like a sunken prow.
We are out of breath, divining the heart of the geyser,
Constellations are bobbing like corks above on the swell.

Earth is a waterwheel, the buckets go up and go down,
But to keep the whole aqueous architecture standing its ground
We must make a ring with our bodies and dance out a round
On the dreamt eye of water, the dreamt eye of water, the dreamt eye of water.

Water: no matter how much, there is still not enough.
Come rain, come thunder, come deluged dams washed away,
Our thirst is unquenchable. A cloud in the water’s a siren.
We become two shades, deliquescent, drowning in song.

My love, under the tall sky of hope
Our love and our love alone
Keeps dowsing for water.
Sinking the well of each other, digging together.
Each one the other’s phantom limb in the sea.

Marin Sorescu (1936 — 1996)

Baden verboten


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