A nice man from Croatia found this blog and asked the question. The following is an answer to that question. Ivan, this translation is dedicated to you.
Se sarută, ah, se sarută, se sarută
tinerii pe străzi, în bistrouri, pe parapete,
se sarută intruna ca și cum ei inșiși
n-ar fi decât niște terminații
Se săruta, ah, se săruta printre mașinile-n goană,
în stațiile de metrou, în cinematografe,
în autobuze, se săruta cu disperare,
cu violență, ca și cum
la capătul sărutului, la sfârșitul sărutului, după sărut
n-ar urma decât bătrânețea proscrisă
Se săruta, ah, se săruta tinerii subțiri
și indrăgostiți, Atât de subțiri, ca si cum
ar ignora existenta piinii pe lume.
Atât de indragostiti, ca si cum, ca și cum
ar ignora existența însăși a lumii.
Se săruta, ah, se săruta ca și cum ar fi
în întuneric, în întunericul cel mai sigur,
ca și cum nu i-ar vedea nimeni, ca și cum
soarele ar urma să răsară
după ce gurile rupte de sărut și-nsângerate
n-ar mai fi în stare să se sărute
decât cu dinții.
| Nichita Stănescu
They kiss, oh, they kiss, they kiss,
the young on the streets, in the bistros, on parapets
they kiss and kiss as if they were themselves
of the kiss
they kiss, oh, they kiss in the racing cars,
in the metro stations, in theaters,
in buses, they kiss with desperation,
with violence, as if,
at the end of the kiss, at the conclusion of the kiss, after the kiss,
the only thing to follow would be prescribed old age, and death.
they kiss, oh, they kiss, the thin young people
in love. So thin, as if
they were ignoring the existence of bread in this world.
so in love, as if, as if
they were ignoring the existence of world itself.
they kiss, oh, they kiss as if they were
in the dark, in the safest darkness
as if nobody saw them, as if
the sun would rise
their mouths, broken by the kiss and bleeding
would only be able to kiss
with their teeth.
If you want to hear how it sounds in Romanian, see the (quite moving) YouTube clip here: Tinerii // The young.
This was quite straightforward as far as the translation, and fairly "easy" for Nichita, whose poems are typically very difficult to translate. This is a simple, primordial, painfully intense feeling he's writing about - youthful love, as epitomized by the kiss, which holds within both life and death. In fact, here's Nichita's brilliance: reading the kiss as the defiance of death, as the seamy laboratory of life itself, with its violent, morbid, glorious cycles.
As about my dirty translation lab: while I had very few issues here, I do have one bone to pick with the English language, and that is the deeply unsatisfying way of nominalizing adjectives. What I mean by that is constructions like, "the departed," "the young," "the dead," "the living," etc. I'm just not feeling it. In Romanian, a strongly inflected language with oodles of terminations for every number, gender, case, and combination thereof, "the young" is "tinerii" (the title of the poem), and somehow, it sounds more like a collection of real persons that happen to be defined by youth than the English version. "The young" sounds more like a cover-up: let's rush this article in front of the adjective, and call it a day--no one will notice, really. Romanian does basically the same thing (adds the definite article, which happens at the end) BUT it does it for both singular and plural without any compunctions. Also, "tinerii", takes a myriad forms: tânar, tânărul, tânără, tânărului, tânărei, tânara, tineri, tinerii, tinere, tinerele, tinerilor, tinerelor (with or without the definite article, plural or singular, Nominative-Accusative or Genitive-Dative forms). Granted, these are the same forms as the adjective, but as a stand-alone, they represent a substantial, unmistakable noun. "I-am spus tânărului să citească mai mult Nichita," "I told the young man to read more Nichita." There, right there is the cause of my problem: to make it a proper now, English needs an actual noun in the singular--the definite article isn't enough. You need the prop of "man" or "woman" or "boy" or "girl" or what have you to turn the adjective into a noun. That seems...wasteful, or at the very least inelegant. That is why the Romanian "Tinerii' sounds so much more substantial. To achieve the same exact meaning in English I'd have to say "The young people," which ruins it. Or I can just say "the young," which I did, and which seems to dilute the impact. I could also say "the youth," but it becomes both ambiguous and unwieldy.
So, "the young" it is, but just know, when you read it or listen to it, "tinerii" is the more plastic term.
Btw, the other word that is repeated obsessively in this poem, "se saruta" ([they] kiss)--comes from Lat. salutare, which also gave us "salute," or in Romanian "salut"--although that word comes to Romanain at a later date, probably via Italian. I like to think that until we reintegrated "salut" into Romanian, everybody greeted everybody with a kiss, just because that's how it was done :)