You are currently viewing what waste to be not stung
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Peace - Burial at Sea, 1775–1851.

Language: Romanian
Poet: Eminescu
Translator: Delia Radu
Region: Moldova

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what waste to be not stung

A poem by Eminescu, translated from Romanian by Delia Radu

Mihai Eminescu is often regarded as Europe’s last great Romantic writer, though some scholars prefer to focus on the pre-modernist chords of his poetry. Born in 1850 in Moldova, still part of the Ottoman Empire at that time, he studied in the Germano-Romanian cultural centre of Cernauti (now Chernovtsy, Ukraine), Vienna and Berlin, where he was strongly influenced by German philosophy (notably by Schopenhauer), Western literature and German translations of ancient Indian texts. Most of his literary work came to a halt in 1883, when he suffered the onset of a mental illness that led to his death in 1889 in an asylum in Bucharest, Romania. Eminescu modernised and transformed Romanian literature profoundly.

Delia Radu is a journalist, writer and translator. Born and educated in Bucharest, she’s lived and worked in London since 1999. Her journalistic work was published on the BBC News website and BBC Sounds. Her literary work has appeared in the Cardinal Points Literary Journal, La Piccioletta Barca, and Sepia Quarterly.

Stelele-n cer

Stelele-n cer
Deasupra mărilor
Ard depărtărilor
       Până ce pier.

După un semn
Clătind catargele,
Tremură largele
       Vase de lemn;

Niște cetăți
Plutind pe marile
Și mișcătoarele
       Pustietăți.

Stol de cocori
Apucă-ntinsele
Și necuprinsele
       Drumuri de nori.

Zboară ce pot
Și-a lor întrecere,
Vecinică trecere ­
       Asta e tot…

Floare de crâng,
Astfel viețile
Și tinerețile
       Trec și se stâng.

Orice noroc
Și-ntinde-aripele
Gonit de clipele
       Stării pe loc.

Până nu mor,
Pleacă-te, îngere,
La trista-mi plângere
       Plină de-amor.

Nu e păcat
Ca să se lepede
Clipa cea repede
       Ce ni s-a dat?

The Stars Arrayed

The stars arrayed
Above the seas
Burn vertices
            Until they fade.

A compass line
Makes tall masts sway
The ships change way
            Follow the sign;

Vast fortresses
Sailing jarring
Ever stirring
           Emptinesses.

Sieges of cranes
High above glide
On endless, wide,
            Overcast lanes.

Away they whizz
None of them slows
Everything flows
           That’s all there is.

Blur of wild flowers,
Young years and strife
The entire life
           Pass like the hours.

Any luck will
Take wing within moments
Chased by obscure omens
            Nothing stands still.

Before I die,
Angel, relent,
Hear my lament
            My love’s sad sigh.

What waste to be
Not stung, not stunned
By the instant’s
            Fast, lively spree.