top of page

Octavian Paler, translated by Cristina A. Bejan

I’ve Learned

(abbreviated version)

We have time for everything
To sleep, to race from here to there
To regret our mistakes and to make them again
To be judged by others and to forgive ourselves
We have time to read and to write
to correct what we’ve written, to regret what we’ve written
We have time to make plans and not respect them
We have time to make illusions and to rise from
their ashes later
We have time for ambitions and illness
to blame destiny and details
We have time to look at clouds, signs or any accident
We have time to dismiss questions
to postpone responses
We have time to shatter a dream and to reinvent it
We have time to make friends, lose them
We have time to learn lessons and forget them
We have time to receive gifts and not understand them
We have time for everything

But there is no time for any tenderness

For when we use it, we die
I’ve learned that you cannot force someone to love you
All you can do is be loved
The rest . . . depends on others
I've learned that no matter how much this might mean to me,
To others it would mean nothing
I’ve learned that it takes years to earn trust
And it can be lost in just seconds
I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what you have in life
But who you have it from
I've learned that you manage and use your charm
for 15 minutes
After which, it would be good if you had something in your head
I've learned that it is not good to compare yourself
with what others can do better
Rather you should compare yourself with what you are able to do.
I’ve learned that you should part with your loved ones with
warm words
It could be the last time you see them
I’ve learned that true friends continue to exist
even from a distance
And that is also true for true love
I’ve learned to love
So that I could be loved in return.

bottom of page