translated from Romanian by Seamus Heaney

Loneliness is a town
Where everyone else is dead.
The streets are clean,
The street-markets empty,
Suddenly everything’s in a true light
Through being deserted – exactly
The way it was meant to be.
Loneliness is a city
Where it’s always snowing  
Prodigiously, and no footsteps ever
Profane the layered
Drift of the light.
And you alone, the unsleeping eye
Keeping an eye on the sleepers, you  
See, comprehend, and can’t have enough
Of a silence so pristine
Nobody fights there,
Nobody’s lied to,
And even the tear in the eye  
Of the abandoned animal
Is too pure to hurt.
On the border
Between suffering and death,
Loneliness is a happy town.

Excerpted from The Translations of Seamus Heaney by Seamus Heaney and edited by Marco Sonzogni. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2022 by The Estate of Seamus Heaney. Introduction and editorial material copyright © 2022. All rights reserved.