Mihai Eminescu Romanian Poet and Novelist A National Inspiration

Growing up in Romania during the communist times, one of our few delights and everlasting literary images of a better time past was in reading and interpreting the works of the Romanian National poet and novelist Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889).  He was one of the few artist of the past that we were allowed to read and study.  Eminescu is the best-known last romantic poet of Romania and is considered the first modern poet of Romanian literature. 

 

His romantic verses and heart felt literary imagery created dreamy romantic images in my mind, which later so influenced my personality and driving my passion for art.  My paintings became a means to express these poetically induced thoughts from a Genius, who is over 100 years removed from the present, and still through his words continues to dwell in my thoughts and in my art. 

 

Long after my school days, I often re-read ‘Evening Star’ by Eminescu during my evenings in Romania and it serves a constant inspiration to me and still evokes subject imagery for my paintings.

 

It is only because of the Degree Program, which prodded me to reflect on the various great influencers in my life that Eminescu’s pleasing reflections and life lasting effects are resoundingly self-apparent.  His artistry and words greatly moulded my being, feelings, perceptions and persona.  He was always there for me and with me, however in hindsight, I didn’t realise the extent of his impassioned impacts on me until my review of past paintings and with the creation of ‘Poveste de Dragoste’ (translated to ‘Love Story’).  The poem that influences my painting ‘Poveste de Dragoste’ is ‘Evening Star’ by Mihai Eminescu.  Eminescu recants an imaginary love story between Catalina, a mortal, and Luceafarul (or Evening Star), the immortal evening star.  Luceafarul fell in love with the mortal woman, who needed to become immortal to be with him, but refused to leave her world and give up her mortal soul.  He could not comply with her wishes to become mortal because he saw the many faults of the mortal world, so he decided to stay in his world in which case the love died between them.

Claudia Kusznirczuk, ‘Poveste de Dragoste’, 2019

Poveste de Dragoste’ reflects on the end of the love between Luceafarul and Catalina depicted in a dance pose.

'Evening Star'

Mihai Eminescu

(translated)

There was, as in the fairy tales,

As ne'er in the time's raid,

There was, of famous royal blood

A most beautiful maid.

 

She was her parents' only child,

Bright like the sun at noon,

Like the Virgin midst the saints

And among stars the moon.

 

From the deep shadow of the vaults

Her step now she directs

Toward a window; at its nook

Bright Evening-star expects.

 

She looks as in the distant seas

He rises, darts his rays

And leads the blackish, loaded ships

On the wet, moving, ways.

 

To look at him every night

Her soul her instincts spur;

And as he looks at her for weeks

He falls in love with her.

 

And as on her elbows she leans

Her temple and her whim

She feels in her heart and soul that

She falls in love with him.

 

And ev'ry night his stormy flames

More stormily renew

When in the shadow of the castle

She shows to his bright view.

 

*

 

And to her room with her slow steps

He bears his steps and aims

Weaving out of his sparkles cold

A toil of shaking flames.

 

And when she throws upon her bed

Her tired limbs and reposes,

He glides his light along her hands

And her sweet eyelash closes.

 

And from the mirror on her shape

A beam has spread and burns,

On her big eyes that beat though closed

And on her face that turns.

 

Her smiles view him; the mirror shows

Him trembling in the nook

For he is plunging in her dream

So that their souls may hook.

 

She speaks with him in sleep and sighs

While her heart's swelled veins drum:

-"O sweet Lord of my fairy nights,

Why comest thou not? Come!

 

Descend to me, mild Evening-star

Thou canst glide on a beam,

Enter my dwelling and my mind

And over my life gleam!"

 

And he listens and trembles and

Still more for her love craves

And as quick as the lightning he

Plunges into the waves.

 

The water in that very spot

Moves rolling many rings

And out of the unknown, dark, depth

A superb young man springs.

 

As on a threshold o'er the sill

His hasty steps he leads,

Holds in his hand a staff with, at

Its top, a crown of reeds!

 

A young Voivode he seems to be

With soft and golden hair;

A blue shroud binds in a knot on

His naked shoulder fair.

 

The shade of his face is of wax

And thou canst see throughout -

A handsome dead man with live eyes

That throw their sparkles out.

 

-"From my sphere hardly I come to

Follow thy call and thee,

The heaven is my father and

My mother is the sea.

 

So that I could come to thy room

And look at thee from near

With my light reborn from waves my

Fate toward thee I steer.

 

O come, my treasure wonderful

And thy world leave aside;

For I am Evening-star up from

And thou wouldst be my bride.

 

In my palace of coral I'll

Take thee for evermore

And the entire world of the sea

Will kneel before thy door."

 

-"O thou art beautiful as but

In dreams an angel shows,

The way though thou hast oped for me

For me's for ever close.

 

Thy port and mien and speech are strange

Life thy gleams don't impart,

For I'm alive and thou art dead

And thy eyes chill my heart."

 

*

 

Days have past since: but Evening-star

Comes up againd and stays

Just as before, spreading o'er her

His clear, translucent rays.

 

In sleep she would remember him

And, as before, her whole

Wish for the Master of the waves

Is clinching now her soul.

 

-"Descend to me, mild Evening-star

Thou canst glide on a beam,

Enter my dwelling and my mind

And over my life gleam!"

 

He hears: and from the dire despair

Of such an woeful weird

He dies, and the heavens revolve

Where he has disappeared.

 

Soon in the air flames ruddy spread,

The world in their grip hold;

A superb form the spasms of the

Chaotic valleys mold.

 

On his locks of black hair he bears

His crown a fierce fire frames;

He floats as he really comes

Swimming in the sun's flames.

 

His black shroud lets develop out

His arms marbly and hale;

He pensively and sadly brings

His face awfully pale.

 

But his big wonderful eyes' gleam,

Chimerically deep,

Shows two unsatiated spasms

That but into dark peep.

 

-"From my sphere hardly I come to

Follow thy voice, thy sight;

The bright sun is my father and

My mother is the night.

 

O come, my treasure wonderful

And thy world leave aside

For I am Evening-star from up

And thou wouldst be my bride.

 

O come, and upon thy blond hair

Crowns of stars I shall crowd,

And more that all of them, up there,

Thou wild look fair and proud."

 

-"O thou art beautiful as but

In dreams a demon shows,

The way though hast oped for me

For me's for ever close.

 

The depths of my breast ache from the

Desire of thy fierce love

My heavy, big eyes also ache

When into them thine shove".

 

-"But how wouldst thou that I come down?

Know this - for, do I lie? -:

I am immortal, while thou art

One of those that must die!"

 

-"I hate big words, nor do I know

How to begin my plea;

And although thy discourse is clear

I don't understand thee.

 

But if thou wantest my flamed love

And that would not be sham,

Come down on this temporal earth,

Be mortal as I am!"

 

-"I'd lose my immortality

For but one kiss of thine!

Well, I will show thee how much too

For thy fierce love I pine!

 

Yes, I shall be reborn from sin,

Receive another creed:

From that endlessness to which I

Am tied, I shall be freed!"

 

And out he went, he went, went out,

Loving a human fay,

He plucked himself off from the sky,

Went for many a day.

 

*

 

Meanwhile, the house-boy, Catalin,

Sly, and who often jests

When he's filling with wine the cups

Of the banqueting guests;

 

A page that carries step by step

The trail of the Queen's gown,

A wandering bastard, but bold

Like no one in the town;

 

His little cheek - a peony

That under the sun stews;

Watchful, just like a thief, he sneaks

In Catalina's views.

 

-"How beautiful she grew" - thinks he -

"A flower just to pluck!

Now, Catalin, but now it is

Thy chance to try thy luck!"

 

And by the way, hurriedly, he

Corners that human fay:

-"What's with thee, Catalin? Let me

Alone and go thy way!"

 

-"No! I want thee to stay away

From thoughts that have no fun

. I want to see thee only laugh,

Give me a kiss, just one!"

 

-"I don't know what it is about

And, believe me, retire!

But for one Evening-star up from

I've kept my strong desire!"

 

-"If thou dost not know I could show

Thee all about love's balm!

Only, don't give way to thy ire

And listen and be calm.

 

So as the hunter throws the net

That many birds would harm,

When I'll stretch my left arm to thee,

Enlace me with thy arm.

 

Under my eyes keep thine and don't

Let them move on their wheels

And if I lift thee by the waist

Thou must lift on thy heels.

 

When I bend down my face, to hold

Thine up must be thy strife;

So, to each other we could throw

Sweet, eager, looks for life.

 

And so that thou have about love

A knowledge true and plain,

When I stoop to kiss thee, thou must

Kiss me too and again."

 

With much bewilderment her mind

The little boy's word fills,

And shyly and nicely now she

Wills not, and now she wills.

 

And slowly she tells him:- "Since thy

Childhood I've known thy wit,

And as thou art and glib and small

My temper thou wouldst fit.

 

But Evening-star sprung from the calm

Of the oblivion,

Though, gives horizon limitless

To the sea lone and dun.

 

And secretly, I close my eyes

For my eyelash tears dim

When the waves of the sea go on

Travelling toward him.

 

He shines with love unspeakable

So that my pains he'd leach,

But higher and higher soars, so

That his hand I'd ne'er reach.

 

Sadly thrusts from the worlds which from

My soul his cold ray bar...

I shall love him for ever and

For ever he'll rove far.

 

Like the unmeasured steppes my days

Are deaf and wild, therefore,

But my nights spread a holy charm

I understand no more!"

 

-"Thou art a child! Let's go! Through new

Lands our own fate let's frame!

Soon they shall have lost our trace and

Forgot even our name!

 

We shall be both wise, glad and whole

As my judgement infers

And thou wouldst not long for thy kin

Nor yearn for Evening-stars!"

 

*

 

Then Evening-star went out. His wings

Grow, into heavens dash,

And on his way millenniums

Flee in less than a flash.

 

Below, a depth of stars; above,

The heaven stars begem, -

He seems an endless lightning that

Is wandering through them.

 

And from the Chaos' vales he sees

How in an immense ring

Round him, as in the World's first day,

Lights from their sources spring;

 

How, springing, they hem him like an

Ocean that swimming nears...

He flees carried by his desire

Until he disappears.

 

For that region is boundless and

Searching regards avoids

And Time strive vainly there to come

To life from the dark voids.

 

'Tis nought. 'Tis, though, thirst that sips him

And which he cannot shun,

'Tis depth unknown, comparable

To blind oblivion.

 

-"From that dark, choking, endlessness

Into which I am furled,

Father, undo me, and for e'er

Be praised in the whole world!

 

Ask anything for this new fate

For with mine I am through:

O hear my prayer, O my Lord, for

Thou gives life and death too.

 

Take back my endlessness, the fires

That my being devour

And in return give me a chance

To love but for an hour!

 

I've come from Chaos; I'd return

To that my former nest...

And as I have been brought to life

From rest, I crave for rest!"

 

-"Hyperion, that comest from

The depths with the world's swarm,

Do not ask signs and miracles

That have no name nor form.

 

Thou wantest to count among men,

Take their resemblance vain;

But would now the whole mankind die

Men will be born again.

 

But they are building on the wind

Ideals void and blind;

When human waves run into graves

New waves spring from behind.

 

Fate's persecutions, lucky stars,

They only are to own;

Here we know neither time nor space,

Death we have never known.

 

From the eternal yesterday

Drinks what to-day will drain

And if a sun dies on the sky

A sun quickens again.

 

Risen as for ever, death though

Follows them like a thorn

For all are born only to die

And die to be reborn.

 

But thou remainest wheresoe'er

Thou wouldst set down or flee.

Thou art of the prime form and an

Eternal prodigy.

 

Thou wilt now hear the wondrous voice

At whose bewitched singing

Mounts woody get skipping to skies

Into sea Island sinking!

 

Perhaps thou wilt more: show in deeds

Thy sense of justice, might,

Out of the earth's lumps make an empire

And settle on its height!

 

I can give thee millions of vessels

And hosts; thou, bear thy breath

O'er all the lands, o'er all the oceans:

I cannot give thee death.

 

For whom thou wantest then to die?

Just go and see what's worth

All that is waiting there for thee

On that wandering earth!"

 

*

 

His first dominion on the sky

Hyperion restores

And like in his first day, his light

All o'er again he pours.

 

For it is evening and the night

Her duty never waives.

Now the moon rises quietly

And shaking from the waves,

 

And upon the paths of the groves

Her sparkles again drone...

Under the row of linden-trees

Two youths sit all alone.

 

-"O darling, let my blessed ear feel

How thy heart's pulses beat,

Under the ray of thy eyes clear

And unspeakably sweet.

 

With the charms of their cold light pierce

My thought's faery glades,

Pour an eternal quietness

On my passion's dark shades.

 

And there, above, remain to stop

Thy woe's violet stream,

For thou art my first source of love

And also my last dream!"

 

Hyperion beholds how love

Their eyes equally charms:

Scarcely his arm touches her neck,

She takes him in her arms.

 

The silvery blooms spread their smells

And their soft cascade strokes

The tops of the heads of both youths

With long and golden locks.

 

And all bewitched by love, she lifts

Her eyes toward the fires

Of the witnessing Evening-star

And trusts him her desires:

 

-"Descend to me, mild Evening-star

Thou canst glide on a beam,

Enter my forest and my mind

And o'er my good luck gleam!"

 

As he did it once, into woods,

On hills, his rays he urges,

Guiding throughout so many wilds

The gleaming, moving, surges.

 

But he falls not as he did once

From his height into swells:

-"What matters thee, clod of dust, if

'Tis me or some one else?

 

You live in your sphere's narrowness

And luck rules over you -

But in my steady world I feel

Eternal, cold and true!

© Claudia Kusznirczuk.