Odin and the poet
by Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889)
They ask me to sing... I’m supposed to polish
My deep sadness in rhyme and in cadence —
Sweetly, like the spring moonlight
As seen in a garden in Italy at night —
And with my sweet poems I’m supposed to make any woman sigh.
How nice it could be for many men. For me, no! Not for me.
And silly young guys
With their hair curled, with a monocle on their eyes,
With cigarettes in their mouth
And with a goat beard under their teeth,
They shall recite my verses
—Which, are a deep sign of true feelings —
In which they shall hide some trifles.
I’d better rip up my heart, and squeeze with cruel cold fingers
All righteous fire from it — so in a flash I’d shatter it —
Instead of lowering myself and entertain the bad guys, and the arrogant.
Oh, even if you shall cry, if you’ll feel really sorry,
And un-pretended pain will bring tears to your eye,
And my song will burn your heart… Then it is worse.
And then in a blink, no one will think even for a trice
About the wretched one, that had this thought.
You read it, so you can cry a lot.
Since a spring of tears ends your pain.
You know that if someone’s hand, doesn’t matter which one,
Touches your brow, full of perspiration and fear,
And it pleasantly cools your ailing fever,
And places a shield to your tears with a kiss...
To me, that I am living by myself with my sad face,
For I can’t cry, because the sadness
Has drained my eyes,
And has turned into stone my tough heart...
About me no one shall think, nor has anyone ever thought.
What for? Oh, don’t they all know?
That if with a show of approval they’ll drain my sorrow,
Then the source of song shall drain too.
Mad ones! I forgive you.
Oh, why I’m not near you — unpleasant cold sea?
So I could jump into your waters, and that would be the end of me.
You could open for me your blue hall,
And cool my hot pain with your endless chill.
You shall open for me your huge blue passages.
I shall go down through it on stairways of waves.
I shall address Valhalla’s old and fulfilled gods
With my earthy songs;
Amused and rising his cup Odin shall greet me.
“Welcome, young man, with eyes like the blue sky.”
And my long white coat shall get creases of snow on it.
And my long hair shall flutter in the wind.
“A seat for the bard! ” Sitting on the high-back stone seat,
I shall feel that I am a giant.
And the gods shall cuddle their long beards,
And they shall remember sweet nothings.
They shall raise their gaze to early-days sky,
And they shall listen to me
Telling them about the dwarf-world of people,
That lives today, on the tilled land where the gods used to dwell.
“Oh, don’t mind them at all!
Who would have thought that they would become so vile?
The kind born from the gods! ' But seated at a table’s corner,
And raising his cup of wine mixed with honey was an elder.
“Listen! Wouldn’t you know how is going the land once called Dacia,
Which used to be my kingdom? My old stronghold: Sarmizegethusa,
With its granite walls and gothic towers…
Is it still rooted even now on the peaks of the mountains? '
Not a bit of it, oh Decebalus! Now for the first time, greater than ever, I see it.
It is crafted on your hair in precious stone, like in granite,
Like it’s a wonderful crown. “What about those Romans’ progeny? ”
About them what can I say?
All of them are minor-league now on the old planet...
However, the smallest one’s among the less important,
With less might, with no heart,
Romans or Dacians, Dacians or Romans, they are the meanest.
No one thing reminds me of your glory.
Any people, no matter how wretched they may be,
They shall find a stone, or a piece of iron or copper too,
And dig with it the deep tracts you’ve left behind you —
You great ones, that live now with the gods,
And rejoice with them in the forgotten old dusty land, full of ghosts.
But they... If they will go south or north, it isn’t a big deal.
They are like a camp of nomads, and of wandering gypsies,
That for the moment, they live only on the land they’ve occupied,
Only to be chased by another stronger people with love for the past,
Which are the roots and the glory of the things that keep going these days.”
“Oh, what I wanted in my death’s hour
That Rome shall taste to the bottom the glass of decline and squalor,
So much that they shall despise each other — This happened...
The old and proud Romans, conquerors of the world,
They have turned into little Romans...
But what job do they have nowadays?
Maybe they breed little dogs.
Maybe they learn how to crow like roosters...
A people that hate itself, must end up doing these things.“
No, they speak French and they are concerned with politics.
It is the same. “Where you come from? ” Odin asks kindly.
I have risen from the bottom of the Black Sea.
Like a shining example I passed through this world.
I looked on heavens and on Earth.
I came down to you, Magnificent God,
And to your companions that are full of glories.
My heart is full of song.
If you want to hear the sound of roaring winter
Going astray through my strings…
If you want to hear how an old song roars in my harp
And how it inspires from its bottom, intense and never heard sounds,
Only tell me what to do.
And if you want that the torrent of fire of my exalted feelings
Should flow into a golden vortex
At the feet of old rocks
In a harsh and old tongue — but uplifting and plain,
Like the vaults of your sky, oh Odin;
Then tell me to tune its strings
So, I can earn my wreath of laurels.
Maybe they would’ve wanted to bestow it on me...
But I don’t accept a thing from these pygmies.
“Oh, poor child, ” says the old god,
“Why do you kindle all your suffering that has obsessed your young soul?
Don’t believe that there is joy in torment, or in bad mood,
Or in the burning of an old forest,
Or in the burning and the hideous mixture of a sad person’s thoughts;
No! Only in the cool, in the deep calm,
There you will stumble upon
The true, rare attraction...”
(His high forehead covered in white hair,
And his crown with a blue star
Dazzles in the hall,
And his gentle voice sounds kind.)
... “You drink aurora from my golden cup,
So the contentment of this mild morning
Gets into your chest.
Then I’ll open for you the corridors’ high doors
With high snow columns,
With arches of white snow, like silver from Africa,
With vaults higher than heaven itself—
Between those high columns,
Large lights are perched.
Like some moons that are white
With a pleasant, white and warm light
They fill the world of my happiness.
The vaults sparkle. The pillars shine.
The paths are of a powder, whiter than quick silver.
A soft silvery air shall spread all your hair.
You shall breathe in, sweet lily scented air.
Your cymbal shall make the night happier.
You’ll notice through the corridors, my kind goddesses.
And then you shall sing. You shall know what is nice.”
There is a saying: the sea’s blue walls taken apart in two,
Let my gaze see a snowy labyrinth.
With high columns and vaults very well arched.
Moons were burning quietly at the top of it...
And in the transparent and faint shade of the snowy pillars
I saw a young female: thin, cute and tall, like an embodiment of a lily.
Her beautiful undone golden hair fell to her heels.
Her white coat looked wet of softness.
It shined and covered her sweet and slim limbs.
Her tiny hands, like two white lilies,
Try in vain to plait her golden locks.
Her mouth is a rose that openly smiles.
Her blue eyes, shine like stars.
And her long and rich coat,
Just clings on her white shoulders.
Odin says: “Come, you kind girl of the sea!
A bard who had enough of world’s long troubles,
He came down into our clear night.
Ask him to sing.”
She came, closer to me, joyful into the clear night,
Like a silvery apparition;
“Oh, don’t be afraid, ” she said with a nice voice.
“You who do not fear storm and pain,
Why should you tremble at my gaze? ”
Her voice gently quivers in the night.
“Oh goddess, not of fright but of pleasure
Shudders in me my sick heart.
Should I sing? But really, at your gaze
Wouldn’t the song turn silent in surprise?
Aren’t you a song? The most pleasant, the most delightful song
That ever came out of the harp of a bard?
Oh, maiden, come next to me
So I can look in your eye and forget about the world.
Oh, so I can forget the bitterness
They gave me while I was in the world.
Oh young-looking you… Who would have known
That like a pearl dissolved from the entire sea’s aspiration
You live at the bottom of the sea?
And aren’t you afraid that the gold in your tresses
Shall dissolve into stars?
And that your hair entangled with stars
Shine in the blue night of this world?
And aren’t you afraid that your say
Shall sweeten the bitter eternity of the sea? ”
“Flatterer, ” she says
And with a youthful scent of a rose
She leaves the rose of her lips on my mouth.
“You look fine. Finding words to soothe your big blue eye,
And your gentle and innocent heart,
I would smash the sun into golden bits,
And I would scatter it at your white, pretty and small feet,
As a gesture of worship towards the snow you’re stepping on.
Oh Odin, place in her hand a sceptre — the sea’ sword of state.
Please, put a big crown with trendy diamonds on her head,
A crown cut with these diamonds’ intense brilliance,
Since she is the world’s beauty queen.”
She leans her head on my shoulder,
And her voice whispers into my ear.
“I’ll sweeten all the agony and the bitterness
They gave you to drink in the world.
Because I love you— my poor young guy.”
And Odin opens his big blue eyes
And he laughs with the others. And the gods
Softly whisper and smile to each other in the old way.
They think of their own sweet younger years
Obscured in the darkness of past centuries.
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