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EMINESCU, Mihai


O mother.


O mother, darling mother, lost in time's formless haze

Amidst the leaves' sweet rustle you call my name always;

Amidst their fluttering murmur above your sacred grave

I hear you softly whisper whenever the branches wave;

While over your tomb the willows their autumn raiment heap...

Forever wave the branches and you forever sleep.


When l shall die, beloved, do not beside me mourn,

But break a branch of blossom that does the lime adorn,

And take it very softly, and plant it at my head;

I'll feel its shadow growing as on the soil it's shed;

And watered by the tears that you for sorrow weep...

Forever grow that shadow, and l for ever sleep.


And should it be together that we shall die one day,

They shall not in some cemetery our separate bodies lay,

But let them dig a grave near where the river flows

And in a single coffin them both together close;

That l to time eternal my love beside me keep...

Forever wails the water, and we for ever sleep.


One Wish Alone Have I


One wish alone have I:

In some calm land

Beside the sea to die;

Upon its strand

That I forever sleep,

The forest near,

A heaven near,

Stretched over the peaceful deep.

No candles shine,

Nor tomb I need, instead

Let them for me a bed

Of twigs entwine.


That no one weeps my end,

Nor for me grieves,

But let the autumn lend

Tongues to the leaves,

When brooklet ripples fall

With murmuring sound,

And moon is found

Among the pine-trees tall,

While softly rings

The wind its trembling chime

And over me the lime

Its blossom flings.


As I will then no more

A wanderer be,

Let them with fondness store

My memory.

And Lucifer the while,

Above the pine.

Good comrade mine,

Will on me gently smile;

In mournful mood,

The sea sings sad refrain ...

And I be earth again

In solitude.


Sonnet V -

The years have passed like clouds across the dale;

The years have gone and will return no more,

For they no longer move me, as the lore

Of legend, and of song, and doina's tale


Brought wonder to my boyish brow of yore,

And mystery its meaning half unveil.

Your shade falls round me now to no avail,

O secret twilight hour on evening's shore.


To tear a sound out of the life that's gone,

To stir within my soul again its thrill

My hand upon the silent lyre is numb.


Ay, all is lost beneath youth's horizon,

The tender voice of bygone days is still,

While time rolls out behind me... night has come.



Sonnet VI -


Mighty Venice now has fallen low,

One hears no songs, no sound of festive balls;

On steps of marble and through gateways falls

The pallid moon's unearthly silver glow.


Okeanos there his sorrow calls...

In him alone eternal youth does blow,

Yet on his bride would he his breath bestow,

The waves break plaintively against the walls.


The town is silent as a burial ground;

Only the priests of bygone days remain,

Saint Mark tolls sinister the midnight round;


In sombre tones his slow sibylline strain

He nightly speaks with smooth and cadenced sound;

'The dead, my child, no more come back again'.


Ode In Antique Meter

I little thought that I would learn to die;

Forever young, enveloped in my cloak,

My dreaming eyes I lifted to the star

Of solitude.


When of a sudden you stood in my way,

On, anguish you, of nameless suffering sweet...

And to the dregs I dank the draught of death

Unpardoning.


Miserably I burn alive like Nessus,

Or Hercules wrapped in his poisoned cloak;

The fire in me the boundless sea itself

Could never quench.


By my own dreams consumed, I endless wail;

At my own pile I am consumed in flame,

Shall I then luminous one day return

As does the Phoenix?


Tormenting eyes but vanish from my way,

Come to my breast again sad unconcern;

That I may die in peace at last, myself

Give back to me.


Down Where The Lonely Poplars Grow


Down where the lonely poplars grow

How often have I erred;

My steps that all the neighbours know

You only have not heard.


Towards your window lighted through

How oft my gaze has flown;

A world entire my secret knew

You only have not known.


A word, a murmur of reply

How often did I pray!

What matters then if I should die,

Enough to live that day;


To know one hour of tenderness,

One hour of lovers' night;

To hear you whisper's soft caress

One hour, then come what might!


Had you but granted me a glance

That was not filles with scorn,

Out of its shinning radiance

A new star hab been born.


You would have lived through lives untold

Beyond the ends of time;

O deity with arms so cold,

O marble form sublime!


An idol of some pagan lore

As now no more is seen,

Come down to us from times yore,

From times that long have been.


My worship was of ages gone,

Sad eyes by faith beguiled,

Each generation handed on

From father unto child.


But now I very little care

To walk along that lane,

Nor heed the face I found so fair

Looks out for me in vain;


For you are like them today

In bearing and in guise,

And I but look on your display

With cold and lifeless eyes.


You should have known to value right

With wondering intent,

And lit your candela at night

To Love that God had sent.



And If...


And if the branches tap my pane

And the poplars whisper nightly,

It is to make me dream again

I hold you to me tightly.


And if the stars shine on the pond

And light its sombre shoal,

It is to quench my mind's despond

And flood with peace my soul.


And if the clouds their tresses part

And does the moon outblaze,

It is but to remind my heart

I long for you always.

(Translated by Corneliu M. Popescu)


Venus and Madonna


Oh, ideal lost in night-mists of a vanished universe:

People who would think in legends - all a world who spoke in verse;

I can see and think and hear you - youthful scout which gently nods

From a sky with different starlights, other Edens, other gods.


Venus made of blood-warm marble, stony eyes which often flash,

You embodied in a goddess woman's beauty, charm and dash:

Arms as soft as is the thinking of an emp'ror born a poet;

Woman's own divine attraction, still enticing as I saw it.


Raphael enwrapped in dreaming as below a starry sky

- Just a spirit drunk with light-rays and with Springs that never die -

Saw you and thus dreamed of Eden - flowery and redolent, -

Saw you as a queen of heaven, 'mong the angels' marriment,


And upon the empty canvas traced the God-Star of the Sea,

With a star-adorned tiara, with her bland smile, maidenly,

Pale complexion framed by gold rays - angel-like yet feminine:

After woman have been modelled angels in the vaults serene.


Thus myself, lost in the darkness of a life bent on the lyre,

Noticed you - a shallow woman, poor in soul and poor in fire -

And I wrought from you an angel, gentle as the magic day,

When, upon a life laid barren, blandly smiles a lucky ray.


Seeing that your face was pallid with a sickly drunkenness

And your lips turned purple, bitten by corruption and excess;

Cruel one, I cast upon you poetry's veil - white and dense

Covering your morbid pallour with the beams of innocence,


I had given you the pale rays which pour, magic and unreal,

On the brow of genius-angels, of angel turned ideal;

I changed demon into vestal, giggles into symphony,

And your leering sidelong glanced into the Aurora's glee.


But by now the veil has fallen! Tearing me from dreams of bliss

You are sobering my forehead with the frost-bite of your kiss

Now I'm looking at you, demon, and my love - quenched, cold, forlorn,

Teaches me to look upon you with the icy eye of scorn.


You appear as a bacchante who has stolen by deceit

Martyrdom's green wreath of myrtle mingled with a maiden's pleat

Holy was the Virgin's spirit, prayer's very counterpart,

While a long spasmodic frenzy pictures the bacchante's heart.


Oh, as Raphael created our God-Star of the Sea,

With a star-adorned tiara, with her bland smile, maidenly,

I myself have rendered godly what was merely feminine,

Just a cold and leaden woman, barren-hearted, viperine!


Are you crying, child? - Your eyes which abjectly now supplicate -

Can they once more crush and crumble my heart of an apostate?

I have kissed your hand, I'm kneeling, searching your dark, sea-deep eyes

Asking them if you can pardon - humbly I apologize.


Wipe your eyes, abandon crying! My reproach was out of season -

Cruel, unjust accusation, lacking grounding, lacking reason.

Heart of hearts! E'en though a demon through our love you're sanctified

And I venerate this demon with fair hair, eyes opened wide.

Translated by Andrei Bantas


Desire


Come now to the forest's spring

Running wrinkling over the stones,

To where lush and grassy furrows

Hide away in curving boughs.


Then you can run to my open arms,

Be held once more in my embrace,

I'll gently lift that veil of yours

To gaze again upon your face.


And then you can sit upon my knee,

We'll be all alone, alone there,

While the lime tree thrilled with rapture

Showers blossoms on your hair.


Your white brow with those golden curls

Will slowly draw near to be kissed,

Yielding as prey to my greedy mouth

Those sweet, red, cherry lips . . .


We'll dream only happy dreams

Echoed by wind's song in the trees,

The murmur of the lonely spring,

The caressing touch of the gentle breeze.


And drowsy with this harmony

Of a forest bowed deep as in prayer,

Lime-tree petals that hang above us

Will fall sifting higher and higher.


So Fresh Thou Art...


So like the sweet, white cherry blossom,

So tender and so fresh thou art,

And on my life's way like an angel

Appearing thou dost light impart.


Thou scarcely touchest the soft carpet,

The silk on thee doth rustling stream,

From top to toe so light and lofty,

Thou floatest like an airy dream.


From draping folds like purest marble

Thine image unto me appears,

My whole soul on thine eyes is hanging,

Those eyes so full of joy and tears.


O happy dream of love, so happy,

Thou bride of fairy tales, so mild,

No, do not smile! Thy smille doth show me

How sweet thou art, thou gentle child.


My poor eyes thou canst close for ever

With deepest night's eternal charms,

With thy sweet lips' sweet fondling, whispers,

Embracing me with thy cool arms.


A veiling thought at once now passes

Thy glowing eyes thus covering:

It is the dark renunciation,

The sweetest yearning's shadowing.


Thou go'st away and, well I know it,

To follow thee must I no more,

Thou art for me now lost for ever,

My soul's dear bride, whom I adore.


My only guilt was that I saw thee,

Which I to pardon have no might,

Mine arm I'll stretch for ever vainly

To expiate my dream of light.


Like holy Virgin's purest image

In my fond eyes thou will rise now,

The brightest crown on forehead bearing,

Where dost thou go? When comest thou?


Translated by P. Grimm