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166 Years Since Mihai Eminescu's Birth

On the 15th January 2016 we celebrated the 166th anniversary of Mihai Eminescu, Romania's National Poet. The Romanian Academy, an institution that will also celebrate this same year 2016, 150 years since its foundation in 1866, had the initiative in establishing Mihai Eminescu's day of birth as Romania's National Culture Day. 

Born in Ipotesti, Mihai Eminescu (15 January 1850 - 15 June 1889) was the poet whose genius structurally changed Romanian poetry in both form and content. His poetic creation meant a totally different approach that strongly influenced most Romanian poets and writers of the end of the XIXth century and the first few decades of the XXth century. 

Eminescu completed his first studies (highschool including) in Cernauti, at that time a Romanian-German cultural center, after which he went to university in Vienna and Berlin, where he was influenced by the German philosophy and the Western European literature in general. Thus, Eminescu's talent was first revealed to the public in 1870, when two of his poems were published in "Convorbiri Literare", the official journal of the "Junimea" cultural society in Iasi. Than many other poems of his were published, which lead to Eminescu's being nationally recognized as the most important Romanian poet of modern times.

Eminescu's poetry has a distinctive elegant simplicity of language, a masterly "his own" and unprecedented use of the rhyme, rithm and poetic construction, a great profoundness of thought and a unique suggestive use of language and metaphors that influenced nearly all Romanian writers, both his contemporaries and after. His poems have been - and still are - translated in many languages, such as English, French, German, Italian, Spanish etc. 

Here is below one of Eminescu's best known poems "What I Wish for Thee, Indeed, my Romania so Sweet" published in 1867 ("Ce-ti doresc eu ție, dulce Românie"):

 

What I Wish for Thee, Indeed, my Romania so Sweet

What I wish for thee, indeed, my Romania so sweet
Glory be thy name, you, my longing’s realm?
May arms brave and weapons shares ever protect thee,
May, thy future glory, thy past glory overwhelm!

May the wine fill up the cholice, raise it to your lips,
If so your brave sons wish, let them celebrate,
‘Cause the cliff stays firm, and vigil to the wave it kicks
That’s my wish to you, Romania, that is what I state!

May as black as death your vengeful strike be,
May your sword cut deep, thy foes’ wounds make
While thy flag may flutter for their eyes to see,
That your great dream now is a dream no more.

May your fluttering tell the world entire!
Of your great people’s victory, keep them up to date!
May the lights all sparkle, set the stars on fire!
That’s my wish to you, Romania, that is what I state!

May the angel of peace, may the angel of love,
Fly above your altar while the guarding vestals gaze,
Blinding the God Mars with thy light high above,

Making his lamp flicker, while yours is ablaze.

On your virginal breast may his head abide,
Your heavenly beauty may he gratefully taste,
While you, embracing him, his fragil wings do hide.

That’s my wish to you, Romania, that is what I state.

What I wish for thee, indeed, my Romania so sweet,
Bride so young and tender, mother loving so?
May your sons live long in harmony so deep,
Like the stars above together, waiting for the dawn!

May you live for ever, glorious and lively,
May thy weapons stay as strong as thy fate,
May you always be forceful, proud and brave!
That’s my wish to you, Romania, that is what I state!

(Translated into English by prof. Diana Lucia Zotescu, 27th March 2016)