Mihai Eminescu was born today in 1850

mihai-eminescu1

Every year, the 15th of January marks the birth date of Romania’s national poet, Mihai Eminescu, whose literary style and creative world have never ceased to amaze and inspire millions of readers to this date.

Eminescu (1850-1889) was a romantic poet, novelist and journalist, unanimously celebrated as the greatest and most representative Romanian poet. Nicolae Iorga, the renown Romanian historian, considered Eminescu the godfather of the modern Romanian language.

His poems span a large range of themes, from nature and love to hate and social commentary. In his works he frequently used metaphysical, mythological and historical subjects. In general, his work was influenced by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.

Mihai Eminescu’s body of work was translated into over 60 languages and continues to be promoted globally so that readers of other nationalities discover and explore the mesmerising literary world of the Romanian poet.

Eminescu's signature

Mihai Eminescu’s signature

In order to rightfully mark the special occasion, I would like to introduce you to one of Eminescu’s poems from 1879- A Dacian’s Prayer-, translated by Corneliu M. Popescu.

For other English translations of Eminescu’s works, click here.

A Dacian’s Prayer

When death did not exist, nor yet eternity,
Before the seed of life had first set living free,
When yesterday was nothing, and time had not begun,
And one included all things, and all was less than one,
When sun and moon and sky, the stars, the spinning earth
Were still part of the things that had not come to birth,
And You quite lonely stood… I ask myself with awe,
Who is this mighty God we bow ourselves before.

Ere yet the Gods existed already He was God
And out of endless water with fire the lightning shed;
He gave the Gods their reson, and joy to earth did bring,
He brought to man forgiveness, and set salvation’s spring
Lift up your hearts in worship, a song of praise enfreeing,
He is the death of dying, the primal birth of being.

To him I owe my eyes that I can see the dawn,
To him I owe my heart wherein is pity born;
Whene’er I hear the tempest, I hear him pass along
Midst multitude of voices raised in a holy song;
And yet of his great mercy I beg still one behest:
That I at last be taken to his eternal rest.

Be curses on the fellow who would my praise acclaim,
But blessings upon him who does my soul defame;
Believe no matter whom who slanders my renown,
Give power to the arm that lifts to strike me down;
Let him upon the earth above all others loom
Who steals away the stone that lies upon my tomb.

Hunted by humanity, let me my whole life fly
Until I feel from weeping my very eyes are dry;
Let everyone detest me no matter where I go,
Until from persecution myself I do not know;
Let misery and horror my heart transform to stone,
That I may hate my mother, in whose love I have grown;
Till hating and deceiving for me with love will vie,
And I forget my suffering, and learn at last to die.

Dishonoured let me perish, an outcast among men;
My body less than worthy to block the gutter then,
And may, o God of mercy, a crown of diamonds wear
The one who gives my heart the hungry dogs to tear,
While for the one who in my face does callous fling a clod
In your eternal kingdom reserve a place, o God.

Thus only, gracious Father, can I requitance give
That you from your great bounty vouched me the joy to live;
To gain eternal blessings my head I do not bow,
But rather ask that you in hating compassion show.
Till comes at last the evening, your breath will mine efface,
And into endless nothing I go, and leave no trace.

The poem as written by Mihai Eminescu in his native language:

Rugăciunea unui dac

Pe când nu era moarte, nimic nemuritor,
Nici sâmburul luminii de viaţă dătător,
Nu era azi, nici mâine, nici ieri, nici totdeuna,
Căci unul erau toate şi totul era una;
Pe când pământul, cerul, văzduhul, lumea toată
Erau din rândul celor ce n-au fost niciodată,
Pe-atunci erai Tu singur, încât mă-ntreb în sine-mi:
Au cine-i zeul cărui plecăm a noastre inemi?

El singur zeu stătut-au nainte de-a fi zeii
Şi din noian de ape puteri au dat scânteii,
El zeilor dă suflet şi lumii fericire,
El este-al omenimei izvor de mântuire:
Sus inimile voastre! Cântare aduceţi-i,
El este moartea morţii şi învierea vieţii!

Şi el îmi dete ochii să văd lumina zilei,
Şi inima-mi umplut-au cu farmecele milei,
În vuietul de vânturi auzit-am al lui mers
Şi-n glas purtat de cântec simţii duiosu-i viers,
Şi tot pe lângă-acestea cerşesc înc-un adaos:
Să-ngăduie intrarea-mi în vecinicul repaos!

Să blesteme pe-oricine de mine-o avea milă,
Să binecuvânteze pe cel ce mă împilă,
S-asculte orice gură, ce-ar vrea ca să mă râdă,
Puteri să puie-n braţul ce-ar sta să mă ucidă,
Ş-acela între oameni devină cel întâi
Ce mi-a răpi chiar piatra ce-oi pune-o căpătâi.

Gonit de toată lumea prin anii mei să trec,
Pân’ ce-oi simţi că ochiu-mi de lacrime e sec,
Că-n orice om din lume un duşman mi se naşte,
C-ajung pe mine însumi a nu mă mai cunoaşte,
Că chinul şi durerea simţirea-mi a-mpietrit-o,
Că pot să-mi blestem mama, pe care am iubit-o –
Când ura cea mai crudă mi s-a părea amor…
Poate-oi uita durerea-mi şi voi putea să mor.

Străin şi făr’ de lege de voi muri – atunce
Nevrednicu-mi cadavru în uliţă l-arunce,
Ş-aceluia, Părinte, să-i dai coroană scumpă,
Ce-o să asmuţe câinii, ca inima-mi s-o rumpă,
Iar celui ce cu pietre mă va izbi în faţă,
Îndură-te, stăpâne, şi dă-i pe veci viaţă!

Astfel numai, Părinte, eu pot să-ţi mulţumesc
Că tu mi-ai dat în lume norocul să trăiesc.
Să cer a tale daruri, genunchi şi frunte nu plec,
Spre ură şi blestemuri aş vrea să te înduplec,
Să simt că de suflarea-ţi suflarea mea se curmă
Şi-n stingerea eternă dispar fără de urmă!

The poem ”Lake” by Mihai Eminescu in French:

Le lac

Les nénuphars jaunes emplissent
Le lac des forêts comme argent
Il fait se balancer la barque
Et tressaille en cercles blancs.

Je passe tout au long des rives
zet je m’attends à chaque pas
Qu`elle surgisse des roseaux
Et qu’elle tombe dans mes bras.

Nous sauterons dans notre barque
Par la voix des eaux enivrés,
J’abandonnerai le timon.
Laissant les rames m’échapper;

Nous flotterons saisis du charme
Sous cette lune rayonnante —
Le vent bercera les roseaux
Les eaux chanteront ondoyantes !

Mais elle ne vient pas… Tout seul
Je soupire, je souffre en vain,
Les yeux perdus sur mon lac bleu,
Qui de Iourds nénuphars est plein.

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