A Poem from ‘Staying Alive’

I recently picked up an anthology of poetry called Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times, and so far it’s great. Every now and then I’ll read one of the poems and think that I’d like to share it here, but then I remember that copyright law won’t let me. Well, today, I happened across several pages of publisher permissions in the back that allow you to reproduce the poems, so now that problem is solved. So, occasionally, I’ll post a poem here that I think is especially worth reading. Here is one by Nina Cassian.


Call yourself alive? Look, I promise you
that for the first time you’ll feel your pores opening
like fish mouths, and you’ll actually be able to hear
your blood surging though all those lanes,
and you’ll feel light gliding across the cornea
like the train of a dress. For the first time
you’ll be aware of gravity
like a thorn in your heel,
and your shoulder blades will ache for want of wings.
Call yourself alive? I promise you
you’ll be deafened by dust falling on the furniture,
you’ll feel your eyebrows turning into two gashes,
and every memory you have – will begin
a Genesis.

©Ardis, 1983; Oxford Univ. Press, 1993
translated from the Romanian by Brenda Walker & Andrea Deletant


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  1. #1 by yoga on 9.14.14 - 1.49 am

    I am genuinely thankful to the holder of this website who has shared this great piece of writing at

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