Today is an exceptional day

eminescuMy Romanian – An Essential Grammar book has this to say somewhere: Un Eminescu nu se naşte în fiecare zi. (An Eminescu is not born every day). It is referring, of course, to the great poet Mihai Eminescu – Mihai being the Romanian version of the name Michael. Well, Mihai Eminescu was born on this day, January 15, way back in 1850, so if another Eminescu is to emerge, today is the day to do it. But unless your newborn babe, or anyone else born on this date in previous years, learns to speak Romanian in rhyming couplets, I don’t fancy his or her chances. This blog has already covered one of Eminescu’s works: an extremely clever poem translated into both English and French in which the last stanza was the first stanza written with the lines in reverse order – here is the link to that post.

In researching today’s item, I discovered that Eminescu has been accredited by a body called The World Records Academy with writing the world’s longest love poem, one called Luceafărul. According to Wikipedia, it is considered his masterpiece.

Now I know what you are thinking: bloody Bernardo is going to make you read the world’s longest love poem! Yes, you are right. But it is not as bad as it sounds. It has 98 verses of four lines each so that is, um (pause while Bernardo does mental arithmetic) 392 lines. So, here is a link to that work, alongside a translation in English by Corneliu M. Popescu, the gifted translator who died aged only 19 in the earthquake in Bucharest in 1977. It seems Popescu had yet to arrive at the translation of four of those 98 verses, so there are only, um, 376 lines for you to read in English. That’s 768 lines to read in two languages. If you start now, you should be finished by Friday evening at the latest. If you think your loved one is worth an ode of 768 lines, read it out aloud to them in bed. Love has no bounds!

Here are 16 lines in English chosen personally by Bernardo to encourage you: they are ruminating on the meaning of life, etc etc. The juicy love bits you will have to dig out for yourself.

You wish to be a man of son,
To be a star you scorn;
But men quick perish every one,
And men each day are born.

Yet stars burn on with even glow,
And it is fate’s intending
That they nor time, nor place shall know,
Unfettered and unending.

Out of eternal yesterday
Into tomorrow’s grave,
Even the sun will pass way
That other suns shall lave;

The sun that every morn does rise
At last its spirit gives,
For each thing lives because it dies,
And dies because it lives.


2 thoughts on “Today is an exceptional day

  1. So kind of you to have a post about Eminescu! Thank you.
    And here’s another beautiful poem by him, and what greater way to enjoy poetry than to combine it with music? The singer is another famous Romanian artist (musician, actor, poet) worth knowing, Tudor Gheorghe:

    • Hi Raveca, nice to hear from you! Thanks for the info and that link, a lovely tune, I shall definitely investigate Tudor Gheorghe. I bought a slim volume of Eminescu’s poems (in Romanian and also with a French translation) in Brasov last year. I was also very impressed with the artworks in Muzeul Naţional de Artă al României in Bucharest, which I hope to write about at some stage.

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