The Best Words In The Best Order. Definitions - Octavian PalerTranslated by Ileana Stefanescu and S. D. Curtis.In Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist, the protagonist Paul Chowder, talks about how after compiling the poems you want for an anthology, you revisit your selection and realize that it’s a particular stanza, a particular line that stops your breath, that is perfect. You then read it again and slowly an awareness seeps into you that if… "you stare for a while at one of the single lines--stare into its rippling depths where the infant turtles swim--you realize there's usually one particular word in that line that slays you. That word is so shockingly great...and so then all of your amazement and all of your love for that whole poem coalesces around that one word.”Sometimes that stanza, that line or that word has enough allure to beguile you and the poem becomes part of your world, a charm called upon when needed.Rarer is the poem that works on every level, that has a simplicity that captivates, a poem that is the living example of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s definition of poetry “the best words in the best order” Definition of DeparturesI didn’t know that the bitter flower of lonelinesswhen held up closesounds like departing steps.Definition of an impossible AlternativeThe fire has no choice:either to remain itselfor turn to ash.Definitions by Octavian Paler is a small book of poetry, made up, for the most part, by a series of forty seven poems titled “definitions”, of which the two above are examples. They range from a poem of one single sentence through poetry that could be described as “haiku”, as well as several longer pieces, the book then ends with six poems all with individual titles. Although I describe this book as small (approx. 17cm x 13cm & 46 pages), it’s subject matter couldn’t be larger, we range through definitions of time, regret, departures, love and silence, subjects which the poet wanders through haunted by a restless nostalgia, trapped by the knowledge that there’s no going back and going forward leads to a further sense of alienation from himself, or an ideal sense of self. Definition of BelongingEven drops of blood know the meaning of “home”Otherwise they would wander through the bodyand forget to return to the heart.The poetry reads as though an individual, the poet, is going through a process of examination, attempting to define his relation to the world and to himself, to define not just how he fits in, but if and why. Therefore making this a very introspective collection of poetry, but one that will have you smiling at that collection of words placed in that “best order” & then the awareness of a deeper thought process will seep into your mind – that this collection of beautiful, clever introspective poetry, is not merely one individual’s exploration of self, but that it relates to you, us, all of us.Definition of Unspoken WordsClear snowsfall between our words.Or is it just the silence between our words?Our last wordswent so far away that we can no longer hear themand we don’t know what we said to each other.And through the silence between our last wordsI am running and calling your name.We are side by side.And I am running and calling your name.Octavian Paler (1926 – 2007) was a poet, novelist, essayist, journalist and a politician. He was born on July 2 1926, into a peasant family in Lisa, Romania and attended the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy and the Law School of Bucharest (1945-1949). He was a substitute member in the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party (1974- 78) and deputy elected for the Great National Assembly (1978-1982). In the 80’s, however, his relation to the Communist authorities deteriorated and he found himself in conflict with them. This resulted in his persecution by the secret service agency (“Securitate”) due to his pro-Western views and his critique of PCR (the Romanian Communist Party) and Nicolae Ceauşescu himself. Consequently, he is house arrested and prohibited in terms of his literary activity.After the Romanian Revolution and the fall of Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1989, Octavian Paler worked first for “România liberă", then for “Cotidianul" whilst continuing his anti-communist activity as one of the founding members of the Group for Social Dialogue (Grupul de Dialog Social), together with Ana Blandiana and Gabriel Liiceanu amongst others. During his last years he was an intense critic of Romanian politicians and politics. During his long career, he worked as an editor for the cultural section of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Company (1949-1964), Agerpres correspondent in Rome (September-December 1964), General Manager of the Romanian Television (1965-1968), Vice-President of the Radio Broadcasting Company and coordinator of the literary and music sections (1968-1970), editor-in-chief with “România liberă" newspaper (1970-1983) and starting from 1990, honorary director of the newspaper.