Another One…


I have been revisiting Eminescu’s poetry all week, looking at pieces I never even knew existed. They are not some of his most famous works, but one poem in particular almost made me cry. The original is so breathtakingly beautiful, and I found a translation that brings out many of the same sentiments Eminescu originally intended.
 
Ce E Amorul? (As originally written by M. Eminescu in 1883 – special characters omitted).
 
Ce e amorul? E un lung
Prilej pentru durere,
Caci mii de lacrimi nu-i ajung
Si tot mai multe cere.
De-un semn in treacat de la ea
El sufletul ti-l leaga,
Incit sa n-o mai poti uita
Viata ta intreaga.

Dar inca de te-asteapta-n prag
In umbra de unghere,
De se-ntilneste drag cu drag
Cum inima ta cere:

Dispar si cerul si pamant
Si pieptul tau se bate,
Si totu-atirna de-un cuvint
Soptit pe jumatate.

Te urmareste saptamini
Un pas facut alene,
O dulce stringere de mini,
Un tremurat de gene.

Te urmaresc luminatori
Ca soarele si luna,
Si peste zi de-atitea ori
Si noaptea totdeauna.

Caci scris a fost ca viata ta
De doru-i sa nu-ncapa,
Caci te-a cuprins asemenea
Lianelor din apa.

 
This one was a little easier to find translations for, and it so happens that the same man worked on it that translated Luceafarul. Which obviously makes me wonder what else he has translated. Especially considering there is another poem, Mai Am Un Singur Dor, which I would love to see translated properly. So far I have found a series of mot-a-mot translations that hardly make any sense. But that hasn’t stopped me yet.
 
What is Love (Translated by M. Popescu)
What is love? A lifetime spent
Of days that pain does fill,
That thousand tears can’t content,
But asks for tears still.
With but a little glance coquet
Your soul it knows to tie,
That of it’s spell you can’t forget
Until the day you die.

Upon your threshold does it stand,
In every nook conspire,
That you may whisper hand in hand
Your tale of heart’s aspire.

Till fades the very earth and sky,
Your heart completely broken,
And all the world hangs on a sigh,
A word but partly spoken.

It follows you for weeks and weeks
And in your soul assembles
The memory of blushing cheeks
And eyelash fair that trembles.

It comes to you a sudden ray
As though of starlight’s spending,
How many and many a time each day
And every night unending.

For of your life has fate decreed
That pain shall it enfold,
As does the clinging water-weed
About a swimmer hold.

 
Unfortunately, once again I have to say Popescu does not carry the last lines very well. Eminescu has a penchant for ending on a strong point, with heightened emotion lurking within the last lines, making you feel the weight of the entire poem in a few words. Popescu is wonderful in his beginnings continues strong, but it feels as though he drops off before the end, not fully allowing the poem to sink in. The build up is wonderful, but then… nothing. And when I say nothing, please keep in mind this is solely in comparison to the original. For anyone not familiar with the way Eminescu worded it, Popescu’s version is quite good. As having read both, however, I have to say, Popescu did not make me want to cry. He did not extract suppressed feelings in that last line. Not like the rest of the poem. I guess if a poem doesn’t make me want to crawl in the fetal position and tare myself to shreds it is no good. Well, W. Wordsworth did once state “poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling.” Perhaps this is what he had in mind.
 
However, Wordsworth also said such powerful feelings came from “recollections in tranquility.” Yet this poem did not inspire tranquility, nor was my desire for it bred from tranquility. Further, it describes an emotion that is not very tranquil by nature. When has love ever been tranquil? At least for me, love is turmoil. I have never been at peace with love, nor have I had peaceful love. Eminescu understands this as he speaks of the “durere” (pain) which is the very first adjective he uses to describe the emotion, as none other will do. The life of love described in this poem is not tranquil, peaceful, (or any other synonym you may wish to insert). It is painful, sad, and lonely. Love lurks and stalks, unbending, and never ending.
 
Of course as soon as I finished writing the last line I thought of a never ending cycle, a circle that must painfully repeat. And, oddly, it also reminded me of this paper I wrote about a year ago, in which I described love as a rupture of pleasure so great it could only be felt as pain. A lot of people like that paper. Maybe I had it right. Maybe love is a form of elevated ecstasy in which only pain can be felt, and tears are the sole means of releasing this mix of emotions.
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