by Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889)
Because my pen is left in the ink, you may ask
Why the rhythm doesn’t distract me from any task?
Why climbing iambi, trochees and lively dactyls sleep
Sandwiched between old stained files at my fingertip?
If you knew the problem of my life that I fight for,
You could see that I have words I could’ve broken my pen, and more.
Because I ask: why should we start to squabble, and try
To alter the old and wise language in a new way?
That secret feeling that sleeps in your harp… should you wage
It in epics like wares, shall you trade it on stage?
When in haste you look for a form that can suit you all the same,
So you can write it on hand, and go with the flow of the time.
But you shall answer me that it is painstaking,
My name, shall reach the world with its lovely writing,
And get to the notice of the men of this nation.
By keeping handy my verses for women.
And with my mind I shall soothe my heart’s disgust.
My dearest, this road was walked in the past.
In our time, we have that strange kind of a bard just in name,
That with poems he tries hard to get two jobs at the same time.
And these guys bid their verse to ladies and to the dominant,
Their lines are sung in saloons; and in bars they rant.
Since life’s path is tough and strenuous,
Under the shelter of skirts they try to go across.
Their promotional material, they put it aside for ladies. And they expect
That the lady’s man might one day come to power, and them he shall protect.
And the lady’s man may offer them a top position.
Why don’t I want to write for glory, or for recognition?
Could it be glory for me to speak in a desert?
Now as the mortals are all slaves to their-own fad,
The glory is an illusion that a thousand unwise people,
Offer to a so-called star—their-own idol
—A guy who is only bubbles in a hundred years of nil worth.
Shall I pitch my lyre and sing about love?
—A chain shared with brotherly love amongst two or three lovers.
What? You’d hum on the mellow string. And in operetta lead by Menelaos,
You’ve joined of your own free will the show biz?
Now and again, the woman is like a school—the same way as life is—
Where in shame and smooth finish, one learns pain.
At these academies of arts that to goddess Venus pertain,
More often, from young to younger men she meets.
One can see how to her class the young students she greets,
To the time you realize that the whole school is left only in a mess.
Wow! You still remember the years, when we had fantasized in class.
We listened to the old professors; they mended the “jacket-of-time”.
They paused, so they could reclaim the relics of time from books.
Did they look for wisdom in bits of events?
With their agreeable whisper—a source of hush-hush—
They succeeded with their mending to be a pain in the ass.
They swung our mind’s lever with a deep piety,
When to some Egyptian Pharaoh, when to a planet in the sky;
It seemed that through a gap in the clouds I could see an astronomer,
How he was taking out worlds from chasm, like out of a container.
And he handed to us the dark time without end. And to all he told
That like pearls on a string the ages unfold.
Then, the world spun like a propeller in everyone’s head.
And we felt like Galileo that the funny thing has to go round.
Dizzy of dead languages, of planets, and of the school’s dust,
We’ve labelled the teacher as a king with skin complaint.
I looked at the ceiling and at cobwebs on pillars…
I thought about blue eyes, and I’ve listened to king Ramses.
And for example, with some blond haired wild-lass with rosy cheeks,
I’ve shared on an edge of a note pad, some sweet free verse.
With the fantasy of that time: when a sun, when a king
Or a tame animal, in front of me it seemed to swing.
The scrawling of pencils gave charm to this serenity
Green waves of wheat in a shifting motion I could see.
And on the worktable I dropped my heavy head,
And the whole thing seemed to fade in a time without end.
When the bell rang I knew that Ramses had departed this life.
Then, the world of study—for us it was alive.
And then again, the real world looked not feasible.
How empty and plain is now that path—barely visible—
That can be all right for an honest heart.
And in the day-to-day world, to dream is not smart.
As if you have vision in some way,
You are silly, and you go astray.
Because of that, as of today do not bother to ask
Why the rhythm with its lure, doesn’t sidetrack me from any task?
Why trochees, climbing iambi, and lively dactyls,
Sleep packed amongst stained files?
And if I keep on writing verses, I am afraid that in some way,
My present-day folks would start to glorify me.
If with a smile, I can take, their hatred easily,
Their applause would make it much harder for me
(1881,1st of April)
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