Vespers

A lonely flute is singing,
The elegy’s blown off the road.
And yet, it is you I am seeking,
Oh, Mary — the Mother of God!

As tree leaves are carried asunder,
They lose the color they’ve got.
My singing heart does flounder,
Oh, Mary — the Mother of God!

The battered Soul is breaking,
Like tree leaves on Golgotha’s road.
As a prayer, a lone flute is singing,
Oh, Mary — the Mother of God!

— Constantin Oprişan
(Trans. by Constantin Roman)

Constantin Oprişan, date unknown.

Constantin Oprişan, date unknown.

Constantin (Costache) Oprișan opposed the Soviet occupation of Romania after World War II. In 1951, his resistance earned him an arrest and a sentence to 25 years of hard labor. He was incarcerated in the Pitești prison and subjected to “re-education” by torture. From Pitești he was transferred to Gherla prison, where he contracted tuberculosis. In 1958, he was transferred Jilava prison. He died at Jilava in June 1959. His poems exist only because his fellow prisoners memorized them. Oprișan’s work was published for the first time in 2009.

[Research note: English-language sources are scarce, but see the Centre for Romanian Studies.]

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