Simona Popescu

February 19, 2016 Popescu Simona



Sweet ephebe, dear good friend,

shall I compare thee to what?

There’s nothing to be measured against your cleanly beauty

and no filly

could in any way compete with you. That’s why I find

to be around you

while all you do is loaf in your own world

laughing and waving those fingers lightly

as if playing an invisible syrinx oh so good to seek. You pamper yourself

and then stare in the air just

like a smooth statue; you start to dance in the half light

all by yourself, like a… cynaedus

or a bird in love.

You can’t be touched by either men or women

and everything around you feels so rude.

I watch you with a thoughtless mind

just as one day I watched the pure

and mild concupiscence of a plant bearing

a name so funny, and yet so ethereal –

the femininely virile cypripedium

lost somewhere in a flower

shop window.


Dance, my dear friend! A stroboscope

divides you like a ghost. That is your beauty

manifold (an 18-year old – I keep recalling – Shiva).

You’ll be away tomorrow.

Your long and fragrant hair will pile up on some grimy concrete floor

your locks will meet a barber’s greasy hand

some brutish drill instructor will surely give you hell,

some old doctor will take time weighing,

groping you on the sly,

some stocky soldiers will tap you on the shoulder.

They’ll drill you

almost kill you,

you, lazy one, will learn about virtus and labor.

They’ll make a man out of you and then

you’ll be chased by Priapus in the fall of his life

and by stupid languid wives…


Now you look like a dancing shadow

a filigree hidden in a Fauvist painting.

I would just wrap you up in a song

and forget you.


Let me think of you as the boy who

on a smoky day was reading much too serenely

while a distant bossa nova rhythm was playing

something by Charles d’Orléans

(Le monde est ennuyé de moy

Et moy pareillement lui”

well, who knows?)


Dear good friend,

neither boy nor girl,


whom I lock in my mind

to stare at you

at your pure beauty

thoughtless as if in a flower shop window.


In a mute, convoluted song I’d wrap you up

and thus forget you.


Translated by MARGENTO





Dulce efeb, bunul meu prieten,

cu ce să te asemăn?

Nimic nu se măsoară cu frumuseţea ta curată

şi nu există fată

cu tine să se-ntreacă. De-aceea caut

în preajma ta să fiu

în timp ce tu petreci în lumea ta

râzând, mişcând din degete uşor de parcă

ai mânui un syrinx invizibil. Te-alinţi,

apoi priveşti în gol precum

o netedă statuie; şi-apoi dansezi în clarobscur

tu singur, ca un… cined

sau ca o pasăre îndrăgostită.

Femeia şi bărbatul nu pot să te atingă

şi tot-n jurul tău e bădăran.

Mă uit la tine fără gânduri

aşa cum într-o zi privit-am

concupiscenţa pură, delicat-a unei plante

cu nume caraghios şi în acelaşi timp suav,

la feminin-virila cypripedium

pierdută undeva într-o vitrină

de florărie.


Dansează, prieten drag! Un stroboscop

te-mparte fantomatic. E frumuseţea ta

multiplă (un Shiva – tot îmi veni în minte – de opşpe ani).

şi mâine vei pleca.

Părul tău lung, parfumat, va zace pe-un mizer ciment,

coama ta va cunoaşte mâna murdară, grăsoasă, a unui frizer,

vreo brută ofiţerească te va slei-n comenzi,

îndelung vreun doctor bătrân te va cântări,

te va atinge în treacăt,

soldăţoi îndesaţi te vor bate pe umăr.

Te vor alerga şi

ca pe-o ridiche te vor freca.

Tu, lazy, învăţa-vei pe virtus şi labor.

Bărbat or să scoată din tine şi-apoi

târcoale-ţi vor da şi Priapul tomnatec,

şi proastă femeia, molatec…


Acum îmi pari, dansând, o umbră

filigranată într-un tablou fovist.

Aş vrea să te-nconjor c-un cântec

şi să te uit.


Să mă gândesc la tine ca la băiatul care

într-o zi fumurie prea-liniştit citea

pe-un ritm îndepărtat de bossa-nova

Pe Charles d’Orleans

(“Le monde est ennuye de moy

Et moy pareillement de lui”

mai ştii?)


Prieten bun,

nici fată, nici băiat,


aşa te-nchid în mintea mea

şi mă holbez la tine

la frumuseţea ta curată

fără gânduri ca dup-un geam de florărie.


C-un cântec mut, sofisticat, aş vrea să te-nconjor

şi să te uit.


This translation of Simona Popescu’s “Efeb cu cypripedium” has been included in Moods & Women & Men & Once Again Moods. An Anthology of Contemporary Erotic Romanian Poetry, edited by Ruxandra Cesereanu—Tracus Arte Press (Romania) and Calypso Editions (USA)—to be released in North America in early fall 2016.


Translated by MARGENTO (Chris Tănăsescu) — a poet, performer, academic, and translator who has lectured, launched books, and performed in the US, SE Asia, Australia, and Europe. His pen-name is also the name of his multimedia cross-artform band that won a number of major awards and was invited to open the 1st Euro Poetry Slam Festival (Berlin, 2009) and to perform at the World Electronic Poetry Conference (Kingston U, UK, 2013). His recent work has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, you were here, Belas Infieis, and Experiment-O, among other places, while he continues his work on the graph poem project together with Diana Inkpen at University of Ottawa. MARGENTO is Romania & Moldova Editor-at-Large for Asymptote.

Simona Popescu (b. 1965) is a poet, novelist, essayist, critic, and Professor of Literature at the University of Bucharest. When once trying to answer the question of what is poetry she started working on a poem on poets and writing which ended up as a 325-page-long book of reflections on/and/as poetry titled Lucrări în verde. Pledoaria mea pentru poezie (Works in Green. My Defense of Poetry); there she wrote of poetry as a strange fish among fishes, poetry as a mode of existence, and the patient attempts one has to make to speak of such things.