Five Poems by Ana Blandiana

Photo: Kristina Sheppard (

A Young Horse 

I’ve never figured out what world I live in.
I rode on a horse as young and as happy as I.
When he galloped I could feel his heartbeat
Against my thighs
And my heart pounded, unquenchable, with 
the speed.
Everything flashing by, I didn’t even notice 
That my saddle was resting
On the bones of a horse
That was rapidly falling to pieces on the trail
And that I was still riding
On a young horse made of air
In a century that wasn’t my own anymore.


Those who have no wings
Bustle round the cloakroom to collect them.
Those who do have wings
Very carefully zip them up.
In the present conditions
It’s hard to know
Who will be able to fly
When the moment comes,
When the earth
Opens up
To carry out both a tardy
And useless selection.


I Glide, I Glide

I am the first of men to grow old
Beneath these burning skies.
Alone I discover,
With no one here to help me,
The tremendous surprise
Of a body that is mine 
But is being left behind,
Like a devastated shore,
While I glide
On, glide on above the waves
Until I see myself no more. 


Old Angels  

Old angels, stinking
With a rank smell in their humid feathers,
In their thinning hair,
Their skin peeling off in patches of psoriasis,
Maps of terrifying
Unknown lands,
Furrowed, scored, and scratched.
Too sad to bring good news,
Too thin to wield the sword of fire,
They sink half-asleep into the earth,
Like seeds being planted
In the rheumatic joints of wings,
Deeper and deeper in the ground,
Older and older, more and more human . . . 



Obviously, I’m not like
Any of those weavers of words
Who knit their suits and their careers
Their glory and their pride,
Although I mix with them
And they look at my words as if they were 
“How well-dressed you are!” they say;
“That poem looks so good on you!”
Always unaware
That poems aren’t my clothes,
But my bones –
Painfully extracted
And placed around my flesh like a shell,
Following the example of tortoises
That manage to survive that way
For long and unhappy


Translations from the Romanian 
By Paul Scott Derrick & Viorica Patea

Ana Blandiana is one of Romania’s foremost poets, a leading dissident before the fall of communism. In recognition of her contribution to European culture and her valiant fight for human and civil rights, Blandiana was awarded the Légion d’Honneur (2009), and the US State Department distinguished her with the Romanian Women of Courage Award (2014). She won the European Poet of Freedom Prize (Gdansk, 2016) for My Native Land A4 (2010), published in English by Bloodaxe.

Author of critical essays, translations, and poems, Paul Scott Derrick teaches American literature at the University of Valencia in Spain. 

Viorica Patea is associate professor of American literature at the University of Salamanca and has published books on American poetry and modernism.