To the star
January 15, 2010Posted by on
Mihai Eminescu is the all-time star of Romanian poetry. After a short and intense life (died aged 38), he who is known as “the last Romantic” as per the statue in Vevey, Switzerland, has revolutionized Romanian poetry in the 19th century pushing musicality of the language to new limits. He was born on January 15th, so on this day Romanians sort of celebrate him. I used to find it pathetic as I disliked him as a matter of principle when I was in school – there was just too much Eminescu in the program. However, later on I had to admit that he makes my native language sound more harmonious and enchanting than any other managed to do before or after him.
Unfortunately, translations are quite difficult, it’s tough to match words, rhythm, rime and feel altogether in another language, especially an anglo-saxon one. Still, it’s worth a shot – below is a translation of one of my favorite poems. The year was 188something, and he’s talking about how light travels in space for many years from a star to reach us, and that it might be already gone by the time we get to see it. And then he brings all this Einsteinian “it was there when we couldnt see it and now we see it but it may already not be there any more” stuff into to discussing… feelings. Not bad for his time, I think:
LA STEAUA UNTO THE STAR
La steaua care-a rasarit Unto the star that just arose
E o cale-atit de lunga There’s such an endless way,
Ca mii de ani i-au trebuit That many a thousand years goes
Luminii sa ne-ajunga For light to reach our eye
Poate de mult s-a stins in drum Perhaps it vanished long ago
In departari albastre Within the distant blue
Dar raza ei abia acum But only now her lonely glow
Luci vederii noastre To our sight came through
Icoana stelei ce-a murit The icon of the star that died
Incet pe cer se suie Slowly the vault ascended
Era pe cind nu s-a zarit It was when to our sight denied
Azi o vedem si nu e Now what we see is ended
Tot astfel cind al nostru dor, Likewise when our life’s desire,
Pieri in noapte-adanca, Vanished in the deep night,
Lumina stinsului amor, The glow of love’s quenched fire
Ne urmareste inca. Pursues us in our plight.
Mihai Eminescu Translation by Stefan Ichim, M.D.
1886, 1 Decembrie February 10, 2008