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English language
EPIGONES
Limba Romana
EPIGONII
When I recall the golden days Romanian poesy has seen,
I sink as in a tide of dreams with ripples luminous, serene,
While all around me softly flows the long and tender flood of spring.
I see that boundless ocean night o'er which the stars spread out their sails,
Days with three suns upon their brows, and verdant groves with nightingales,
Clear springs that overflow with thought, and songs like rivers bubbling.

I see the poets who have built a language like a honeycomb:
Cichindeal, the golden mounthed, Mumulean, deep sorrow's home,
Prale strange and twisted one and Daniil, the sad and small,
Vacarescu, sweetly singing love songs of the springs that pass,
Cantemir upon the cloth planning out in knives and glass,
And Beldiman bold trumpeting of enemies in battle fall.

Sihleanu, silver lyre, Donici who was reason's nest,
How as rarely comes to happen, meditating, oft is dressed
In ears that are as donkey's long, or horns, or some such other guise;
Where is his so sagacious ox, and where his fox with cunning wiles?
They all have passed along the road that reaches on for endless miles,
With Pann they're gone, Pepelea's child, as clever as a proverb wise.

Eliad built his songs from dreams and out of legends' ancient glow,
From reding much the holy books, far prophecies of bitter woe,
Truth bathed in myth, or like the sphinx imbued with wisdom's sunset gleam,
Mountain strange, with face of stone, that stands amid the gale of time,
And still today before the world an undeciphered riddling rhyme,
Rears up its head of towering rock amidst the clouds' unending stream.

Bolliac sings of slavedom days, and slavery's heavy brazen bands;
And warrior nations flock to arms where dark Cirlova's banner stands,
Before the present's eyes he makes forgotten ages to appear;
Like Byron, who did loud awake the savage wind of passion's pain,
Pale Alexandrescu who put out the sacred lamp of hope again
Deciphering age-long chaos in the ruin of a single year.

Upon a bed with snow-white shroud, aye, swanlike in her death,
Reclined the maid with lashes long, sweet voice, and gentle breath;
Her life was one continual spring, her dying but one soft regret,
And there her poet lover stood, bound in her fresh young beauty's spell
And from his Iyre sweet music poured, and from his eyes the hot tears fell;
From such a source Bolintineanu did tenderly his songs beget.

Muresan shakes rusty chains when his voice is rised in ire
And with his hand benumbed and lame can snap a hawsers threefold wire;
He calls the very stones to life, as did the ancient myth narrate,
Sings the mountains and their pain, the pine-trees and their destiny;
For all his poorness mighty rich, shines like a planet fearlessly,
The priest of our awakening, the prophet of the signs of fate.

Negruzzi wipes away the dust from parchment that the past records
Within whose mouldy pages lie the tales of far Roumanian lords
In curious letters traced of old by trembling hand of many a clerk;
Dipping his brush in the secret well of the hues of history's days gone past,
He takes those times' canvasses and touches them to life at last
Portraying perhaps some prince who ruled the land in ages dark.

And now that of all our poets, the ever young, the always happy,
Who doina sings upon the leaves, as from a flute he pours his lay,
Alecsandri the merry heart, who does his sparkling story tell
As though he might be threading pearls upon a star-beam as it goes;
A luminous and glowing stream of gems that through the ages flows,
And laughs maybe amid his tears while singing what Dridri befell.

Or dreaming of a shadow pale, with folded wings of silver white,
And eyes that like Iegends with glow a deep and mystic light,
A smile as pure as Mary's own, and a voice like the sound of bells,
He places on her starry brow a diadem with jewels sown;
To rule a rebel world of men, he sets her on a golden throne,
And from his overflowing love the poet's vision softly wells.

Or dreaming when the shepherd lad soft pipes sweet doina's plaintive strain,
A dream of waters deep, of cliffs that rise sublime above the plain,
A dream of ancient forests dark which rest upon the mountainst brow,
He wakes again within our hearts the yearning for our father's land
Till history like an icon fair takes form beneath his skillful hand
And mighty Stephen, sombre lord, comes back again to live an'now.
...................................................................................................

And here are we, the epigones, of fickle feeling, broken lyre,
Devoid of days, but passions strong, with aged hearts and ugly, dire
And mocking mask, with which to hide a face both hard and lined with hate.
Our God naught but a shadow show, our country's name an idle sound,
Who seek to hide our emptiness in works of varnish without ground,
You trusted in your art, but we believe in neither self nor fate.

And therefore sacred are your words and destined to eternity,
For in your minds were they conceived and by your flooded hearts set free;
Great souls have you, and ever fresh you keep your youth though you grow old
The world has turned its wheel about, the future lies within your hand,
We are the past; like shapeless trees forlorn and desolate we stand;
And all our works are false and faint, and meaningless and cold.

Lost in your dreams you stood apart, conversing with ideals high;
We smear the sea with painted waves, we patch with tinsel stars the sky;
And this because our heaven is grey, the sea is frozen round our shores.
You follow with tumultuous flight the mounted glory of your thought
And in among the gleaming stars on sky-born wings you lightly sport,
While up the comets' blazing track your spirit in its swiftness soars

Pale wisdom, understanding's child, her sacred taper burning gold,
Her royal smile as of a star that never sets, that grows not old,
Unshades her light to guide your path, to make secure your flowery road.
Your soul is of the angels born, your heart a silver lute becomes,
Across whose strings a song is stirred, the mellow wind of poetry strums;
And to your eyes the earth is built, an icon hanging kings' abode.

But we to whom no vision comes look out with barren sightless stare
We ape the feelings we have not, we see false pictures everywhere;
We call you poets mystic fools and fitting subjects for our mirth.
All is convention: truth today, tomorrow will become a lie.
Aye, you have fought your fight in vain, the present does the past deny;
You, who have dreamt of golden days upon this grey, this bitter earth.

Life has no other scope than death, and after death is life again,
No other reason has the world, no gap within the endless chain;
Men raise up worshipped immages, build systems that they deem exact,
And call them beautiful or good, according to their varying lights,
Dividing into many kinds their fine philosophies and rites
And casting fancy's finery upon the naked flesh of fact.

Tell me what is holy thought? A luminous but misty look
Of formless nonexistings set in a sad and tangled book
Made to confuse the minds of men, if they should chance to read therein.
And what is poetry? An angel pale with crystal gaze,
Voluptuous pictures, trembling sounds. With heavenly toys the poet plays --
A robe of purple and of gold laid on a mortal creature's skin.

I bid farewell to all you poets dreaming fanciful fantastic dreams,
Who gave the rolling waves their music and the stars their silver beams,
Who built upon this world of clay a greater world where thought is free;
Today our heads are laid in dust, behold, tomorrow death is here
Genius, dullard, sound and soul, the common end of all is near,
The earth is naught but flying dust... and of this flying dust are we.


Translated by
Corneliu M. Popescu
Cand privesc zilele de-aur a scripturelor romane,
Ma cufund ca intr-o mare de visari dulci si senine
Si in jur parca-mi colinda dulci si mandre primaveri,
Sau vad nopti ce-ntind deasupra-mi oceanele de stele,
Zile cu trei sori in frunte, verzi dumbravi cu filomele,
Cu izvoare-ale gandirii si cu rauri de cantari.

Vad peoti ce-au scris o limba, ca un fagure de miere:
Cichindeal gura de aur, Mumulean glas cu durere,
Prale firea cea intoarsa, Danil cel trist si mic,
Vacarescu cantand dulce a iubirii primavara,
Cantemir croind la planuri din cutite si pahara,
Beldiman vestind in stihuri pe razboiul inimic.

Lira de argint, Sihleanu - Donici cuib de-ntelepciune,
Care, cum rar se intampla, ca sa mediteze pune
Urechile ce-s prea lunge ori coarnele de la cerb;
Unde-i boul lui cuminte, unde-i vulpea diplomata?
S-au dus toti, s-au dus cu toate pe o cale nenturnata.
S-a dus Pann, finul Pepelei, cel istet ca un proverb.

Eliad zidea din visuri si din basme seculare
Delta biblicelor sante, profetiilor amare,
Adevar scaldat in mite, sfinx patrunsa de-nteles;
Munte cu capul de piatra de furtune deturnata,
Sta si azi in fata lumii o enigma nesplicata
Si vegheaz-o stanca arsa dintre nouri de eres.

Bolliac canta iobagul s-a lui lanturi de arama;
L-ale tarii flamuri negre Cirlova ostirea cheama,
In prezent vrajeste umbre dintr-al secolilor plan;
Si ca Byron, trez de vantul cel salbatic al durerii,
Palid stinge-Alexandrescu santa candel-a sperarii,
Descifrand eternitatea din ruina unui an.

Pe-un pat alb ca un lintoliu zace lebada murinda,
Zace palida vergina cu lungi gene, voce blanda -
Viata-i fu o primavara, moartea-o parere de rau;
Iar poetul ei cel tanar o privea cu imbatare,
Si din lira curgeau note si din ochi lacrimi amare
Si astfel Bolintineanu incepu cantecul sau.

Muresan scutura lantul cu-a lui voce ruginita,
Rumpe coarde de arama cu o mana amortita,
Cheama piatra sa invie ca si miticul poet,
Smulge muntilor durerea, brazilor destinul spune,
Si bogat in saracia-i ca un astru el apune,
Preot desteptarii noastre, semnelor vremii profet.

Iar Negruzzi sterge colbul de pe cronice batrane,
caci pe mucedele pagini stau domniile romane,
Scrise de mana cea veche a-nvatatilor mireni;
Moaie pana in coloarea unor vremi de mult trecute,
Zugraveste din nou iarasi panzele posomarate,
Ce-aratau faptele crunte unor domni tirani, vicleni.

S-acel rege-al poeziei, vecinic tanar si ferice,
Ce din frunze ii doineste, ce c fluierul iti zice,
Ce cu basmul povesteste - veselul Alecsandri,
Ce-nsirand margaritare pe a stelei blonda raza,
Acum secolii strabate, o minune luminoasa,
Acum rade printre lacrimi cand o canta pe Dridri.

Sau visand o umbra dulce cu de-argint aripe albe,
Cu doi ochi ca doua basme mistice, adance dalbe,
Cu zambirea de vergina, cu glas bland, duios,incet,
El ii pune pe-a ei frunte mandru diadem de stele,
O aseaza-n tron de aur, sa domneasca lumi rebele,
Si iubind-o fara margini, scrie:"visul de poet".

Sau visand cu doina trista a voinicului de munte,
Visul apelor adance si a stancelor carunte,
Visul selbelor batrane de pe umerii de deal,
El desteapta-n sanul nostru dorul tarii cei strabune,
el revoaca-n dulci icoane a istoriei minune,
Vremea lui Stefan cel Mare, zimbrul sombru si regal.
...............................................................

Iara noi? noi, epigonii?...Simtiri reci, harfe zdrobite,
Mici de zile, mari de patimi, inimi batrane, urate,
Masti razande, puse bine pe-un caracter inimic;
Dumnezeul nostru: umbra, patria noastra: o fraza;
In noi totul e spoiala, totu-i lustru fara baza;
Voi credeati in scrsul vostru, noi nu credem in nimic!

Si de-aceea spusa voastra era santa si frumoasa,
Caci de minti era gandita, caci din inimi era scoasa,
Inimi mari, tinere inca, desi voi sunteti batrani.
S-a intors masina lumii, cu viitorul trece;
Noi suntem iarasi trecutul, fara inimi, trist si rece;
Noi in noi n-avem nimica, totu-i calp, totu-i strain!

Voi, pierduti in ganduri sante, convorbeati cu idealuri;
Noi carpim cerul cu stele, noi manjim marea cu valuri,
Caci al nostru-i sur si rece - marea noastra-i de inghet.
Voi urmati cu rapejune cugetarile regine,
Cand, plutind pe aripi sante printre stelele senine,
Pe-a lor urme luminoase voi asemenea mergeti.

Cu-a ei candela de aur palida intelepciune,
Cu zambirea ei regala, ca o stea ce nu apune,
Lumina a vietii voastre drum de roze semanat.
Sufletul vostru: un inger, inima voastra: o lira,
Ce la vantul cald ce-o misca cantrai molcome respira;
Ochiul vostru vedea-n lume de icoane un palat.

Noi? Privirea scrutatoare ce nimica nu viseaza,
Ce tablourile minte, ce simtirea simuleaza,
Privim reci la lumea asta - va numim vizionari.
O conventie e totul; ce-i azi drept mane-i minciuna;
Ati luptat lupta desarta, ati vanat tinta nebuna,
Ati visat zile de aur pe-asta lume de amar.

"Moartea succede vietii, viata succede la moarte",
Alt sens n-are lumea asta, n-are alt scop, alta soarte;
Oamenii din toate cele fac icoana si simbol;
Numesc sant, frumos si bine ce nimic nu insemneaza,
Impratesc a lor gandire pe sisteme numeroase
Si pun haine de imagini pe cadavrul trist si gol.

Ce e cugetarea sacra? Combinare maiestrita
Unor lucruri nexistente; carte trista si-ncalcita,
Ce mai ult o incifreza cel ce vrea a descifra.
Ce e poezia? Inger palid cu priviri curate,
Voluptos joc cu icoane si cu glasuri tremurate,
Strai de purpura si aur pete tarana cea grea.

Ramaneti dara cu bine, sante firi vizionare,
Ce faceati valul sa cante, ce puneati steau sa zboare,
Ce creati o alta lume pe-asta lume de noroi;
Noi reducem tot la pravul azi in noi, maini in ruina,
Prosti si geii, mic si mare, sunet, sufletul, lumina - 
Toate-s praf...Lumea-i cum este...si ca dansa suntem noi.

(1870, 15 august)

Mihail Eminescu
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