Radu Gyr

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Radu Gyr (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈradu ˈd͡ʒir]; pen name of Radu Ștefan Demetrescu [ˈradu ʃteˈfan demeˈtresku]; March 2, 1905, Câmpulung-Muscel – 29 April 1975, Bucharest) was a Romanian poet, essayist, playwright and journalist.


Early life[edit]

Gyr was the son of actor Coco Dumitrescu, from Craiova. He did his secondary studies at the Carol I High School in Craiova. He then studied at the University of Bucharest, where he received his Ph.D. in Literature and became a Senior Lecturer.

Iron Guard membership[edit]

He joined the Iron Guard fascist movement, becoming in time a local commander. During the National Legionary Government he was appointed General Manager of the Romanian Theaters.

Under his administration the Barașeum Jewish Theater (later State Jewish Theater) was founded. The creation of the Jewish Theatre was accompanied with an interdiction for Jewish actors to play anywhere else in Romania, as such the creation of the theatre being a purge of all Jewish people from all theatres across the country.[1]

In prison[edit]

He was imprisoned for 20 years and he was never completely rehabilitated as a writer. His first years as a political prisoner began as soon as the Iron Guard lost their battle with Ion Antonescu. After spending time in prison, Radu Gyr was sent to fight on the Eastern Front, a form of punishment which was reserved for former Legionnaires.

In 1958 he was sentenced to death by the Communist authorities because of his poem, considered subversive by the regime, "Ridică-te Gheorghe, ridică-te Ioane!" ("Arise George, arise John!"). The poem asked for peasants and Romanians at large, given generic names, to rise against the communist dictatorial regime: it had been issued as the last wave of brutal collectivization was taking hold of rural Romania (a process which lasted between 1949-1962). It is primarily a poem pleading for freedom. Romanians, generically named George and John, are called upon to arise "not for bread, nor for land, but for their free air"; for their "nailed song" and "tears of an enchained sun"; for "a stack of horizons and a hatful of stars"; to "drink liberty out of well buckets", "swim in it as in heaven, and shake its cherry blossoms onto themselves".

His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, but he served only six years, two of which with chains at his feet. Although severely ill (hepatitis, TBC, haemophilia, gangrened rectal prolapse), he was refused any medical assistance, was starved and tortured. Altogether he served 16 years in communist prisons (1945-1956; 1958-1964). In 1963-1964 all the surviving political prisoners had to be released, upon pressure from the West.

Collaboration with the Securitate[edit]

After his release from prison in 1963 he was constantly tailed by the Romanian secret police, the Securitate. Convinced to use their expertise in ethnocracy, Radu Gyr and Nichifor Crainic wrote propaganda articles to Glasul Patriei (The Voice of the Motherland) - later called Tribuna României - a newspaper published by the Securitate targeting exiled Romanians abroad.

Published works[edit]

  • Plânge Strâmbă-Lemne (roughly: "The Wood Bender Crieth"; 1927)
  • Cerbul de lumină ("A Deer of Light"; 1928)
  • Stele pentru leagăn ("Stars for the Cradle"; 1936)
  • Cununi uscate ("Dried-up Wreaths"; 1938)
  • Corabia cu tufănici ("The Ship of Chrysanthemums"; 1939)
  • Poeme de război ("War Poems"; 1942)
  • Balade ("Ballads"; 1943) - as well as a series of lyricised tales.


  1. ^ Dan Alexe (7 April 2013). ""Ridică-te, Gheorghe", Ezra Pound și falsa ingenuitate in politică". Radio Europa Liberă. Retrieved 7 April 2013.

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