The angelic wrath of hope

This being a blog about language, the beauty will mostly get lost in my analysis, unless you think that the analysis IS the beauty, in which case: let’s get married.

It’s April, and that means National Poetry Month in the US, and that means: poems.  This being a blog about language, the beauty will mostly get lost in my analysis, unless you think that the analysis is the beauty, in which case: let’s get married.

For the first day of April, I bring you a poem by my colleague Daniela Gîfu.  Besides being one of the few researchers in my field who publishes as much as I do (and maybe more–it’s not like it’s a competition), she is also a many-times-published poet and essayist–and journalist.

Daniela writes in Romanian.  I’ve used Google Translate on her poem Ianuarie, which certainly isn’t optimal, but it gives you the flavor of her work.

I don’t speak Romanian, but the language has a couple features that stand out.

  1. Like a typical Romance language, Romanian has definite articles (the); unlike a typical Romance language, they are at the end of whatever they modify.  The definite article has different forms for masculine, feminine, and neuter words, and also has different forms depending on the last sound of the noun to which it is added.  Here are the examples from the Wikipedia page on Romanian grammar:
  • Masculine nouns (singular, nominative/accusative):
codru – codrul (forest – the forest);
pom – pomul (tree – the tree);
frate – fratele (brother – the brother);
tată – tatăl (father – the father)
  • Neuter nouns (singular, nominative/accusative):
teatru – teatrul (theater – the theater);
loc – locul (place – the place)
  • Feminine nouns (singular, nominative/accusative):
casă – casa (house – the house);
floare – floarea (flower – the flower);
cutie – cutia (box – the box);
stea – steaua (star – the star)

2.  Many of the sounds from Latin became sounds.  (The “conditioning factor” was the vowel that came after the consonant.)  Some examples:

  • bună ziua (good day–compare Spanish buenos días)
  • zece (ten–compare Spanish diez)


Sunt născută în ianuarie,
o lună cu ochii de gheaţă
în hibernarea greoaie a poverilor sufleteşti.
înariparea îngerească a speranţei.
Zăbovesc pe străzi ca-ntr-o rugăciune.
În jur, doar pândele cerşetorilor
îmbrăţişaţi părinteşte de ger,
în uimirea trecătorilor indiferenţi.
Oriunde privesc,
abatere, risipă, pierzanie
de la drumurile moştenite de la facere,
în licărirea luceafărului de seară.


I was born in January,
one month with the eyes of the ice
in the cumbersome hibernation of soul burdens.
the angelic wrath of hope.
I walk in the streets as a prayer.
Around, just the beggars’ lusts
embrace parents with frost,
in the astonishment of indifferent passers-by.
Wherever I look,
miscarriage, waste, loss
from the roads inherited from the making,
in the glimpse of the evening star.

“The angelic wrath of hope”–I love it.  Want to read more of Daniela’s poetry?  See this web page.  Search around and you’ll find her doing readings.

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