Getting Used to Your Name

By Marin Sorescu 1936–1996 Marin Sorescu

Translated By Gabriela Dragnea, Stuart Friebert, and Adriana Varga

After you’ve learned to walk,
Tell one thing from another,
Your first care as a child
Is to get used to your name.
What is it?
They keep asking you.
You hesitate, stammer,
And when you start to give a fluent answer
Your name’s no longer a problem.

When you start to forget your name,
It’s very serious.
But don’t despair,
An interval will set in.

And soon after your death,
When the mist rises from your eyes,
And you begin to find your way
In the everlasting darkness,
Your first care (long forgotten,
Long since buried with you)
Is to get used to your name.
You’re called — just as arbitrarily —
Dandelion, cowslip, cornel,
Blackbird, chaffinch, turtle dove,
Costmary, zephyr — or all these together.
And when you nod, to show you’ve got it,
Everything’s all right:
The earth, almost round, may spin
Like a top among stars.

Marin Sorescu, "Getting Used to Your Name" from Hands Behind My Back, translated by Gabriela Dragnea, Stuart Friebert, and Adriana Varga. Copyright © 1991 by Oberlin College Press.  Reprinted by permission of Oberlin College Press.

Source: Hands Behind My Back (Oberlin College Press, 1991)

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Poet Marin Sorescu 1936–1996

POET’S REGION Eastern Europe

Subjects Living, Death, Nature

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 . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Nature

POET’S REGION Eastern Europe

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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