The Sea Shell

By Marin Sorescu 1936–1996 Marin Sorescu

Translated By Michael Hamburger

I have hidden inside a sea shell
but forgotten in which.

Now daily I dive,
filtering the sea through my fingers,
to find myself.
Sometimes I think
a giant fish has swallowed me.
Looking for it everywhere I want to make sure
it will get me completely.

The sea-bed attracts me, and
I’m repelled by millions
of sea shells that all look alike.
Help, I am one of them.
If only I knew, which.

How often I’ve gone straight up
to one of them, saying: That’s me.
Only, when I prised it open
it was empty.

“The Sea Shell” from Selected Poems by Marin Sorescu, translated by Michael Hamburger. Published in 1983 by Bloodaxe Books. www.bloodaxebooks.com

Source: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 1983)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Marin Sorescu 1936–1996

POET’S REGION Eastern Europe

Subjects Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

In 1964 the Romanian government relaxed its censorship policies, signaling a new openness to free expression. The nation's poets heeded that signal, and Romanian poetry experienced a striking revival. Poet and playwright Marin Sorescu is perhaps one of the most popular figures to emerge from Romanian literary culture in the years since.

Sorescu writes in a plainspoken, down-to-earth style spiced with sly humor. He responds to . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

POET’S REGION Eastern Europe

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.