Constantin Severin

Constantin Severin, Photo by Mihai Burlacu

Constantin Severin is a Romanian writer and visual artist, founder and proponent of Archetypal Expressionism, a highly regarded global art movement, which he founded in Bukovina, in 2001, as well as co-founder of 3rd Paradigm International Artists Group. A graduate of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, he has published ten books of poetry, essays and fiction. One of his poems was included in the 2014 World Literature Today anthology, After the Wall Fell: Dispatches from Central Europe (1989–2014), aimed at popularizing post-Wende Central European literature on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Severin’s conceptual art and artworks have appeared in Artdaily, World Literature Today, It’s Liquid, Levure littéraire, Empireuma, Contemporanul, Vatra, Arkitera, Glare Magazine, Cuadernos del Ateneo, Dance, Media Japan, and other international art and literary magazines.


Mediterranean Goddess

she is wearing a myrtle wreath
and a basket of needle leaves
with a fir cone
a spiral serpent
an egg and a message
on a roll of papyrus
“birth is a cosmic cataclysm
which turns the living into the dead”
her shadow is
the gate of the shadow
the site where monastery copyists
dip their wild goose plumes

when I approach her
I feel time flowing
in both directions
and I can see the gate of kissing
unto the whirlwind
of an original sound

I always listen to her face
streaming in the silence
between two simultaneous melodies
a prey to the echo
of the other Face

matter is sound in love
when you flay the name
and form of all things
you shall rediscover
the fire cathedral
and Bach’s organ

all one can see
is divine love
twirled into
thinking shells

who art Thou
peering for us
through the window of our house
even before the masons
have started bricking up

I search for the hot key
wherein the verb to be is quenched
Into your melodic spirit
Thus by anteliving I shall have been living
Unto non-living

I am the eclipse between the sound and sum

© English version by Dan Nicolae Popescu


the world is a honeycomb of ghost towns with warheads and gothic rosettes
throughout which haunts alienation dreaming and loss
among arches with huge shadows towers and marble statues
empty squares mannequins in windows with drawn shutter

Andrea Bocelli sings alone in the Milan Dome

people with masks pass blindly over blossoming cherries
from the parks the carresses of lovers have disappeared
along with the cries of children
an old man with a plastic bag walks down the deserted street
with eyes iridescent from the depths of an atavistic fear
he tries to cover his yellow ears with cotton wool
he doesn’t want to hear the sirens
which drives away angels and bees

people have become islands infected with fear
in the increasingly lonely cities of Giorgio de Chirico
pictor optimus

Suceava, April 15, 2020

© English version by Constantin Severin & Slim FitzGerald


neither of my parents obsessed with daily chores
watched over my childhood in my native village
as did the master of fountains
the man with the soul muttering in silence
and waters mysterious and clear
from which I learned the poetry of the depths
and the alphabet of listening

finding the place of the well was a magical ritual
and began with a prayer we both said
with eyes half opened
one looking inward
the other mired in wet earth
and we were waiting untill the sky had met
with the strange trembling of the depths

then the craftsman hatched unseen paths on the surface
researched in the smallest details
sometimes he rolled and took the pulse of the earth
and listened with his ear to the ground
he told me that the waters have daemons in their depths
which communicate only with good craftsmen
through words-events

the first shovel of earth from the chosen place
was thrown into the sky
and I watched the amber grains
rolled with particles of dust around us
and I rubbed my sweaty palms with joy
counting in my mind the ringing of bells
from the village church

while the water well was advancing day by day
and I was steadying the emerald-eyed craftsman
on a rope tightened around a stake
I felt like I was starting to communicate
more and more frantic and insatiable
with the nature voiced by the rippling of the depths
through words-events

after he finished assembling the slender black bucket
the master of wells carefully measured my shadow
with a thin and fragile reed
through which you could hear loneliness and dreaming sing
a destiny on the verge of sprouting
and built it into the cylinder of stone and mortar
forming a cross in front of my heart

the master of wells has gone beyond but now I know
cities have daemon cities in the depths
deep fountains of memory and spectral lives
the villages have daemon villages in the depths
deep fountains of memory and spectral lives
my heart has daemon hearts in the depths
deep fountains of love and memory

words have daemon words in the depths
deep wells of meaning
and memories turned to powder

Suceava, May 2, 2020

© English version by Constantin Severin & Slim FitzGerald

Published with the permission of Constantin Severin