"Genuinely different regarding his own way, a real representative of his modern age and a true lover of rather exaggerated antithesis, even if more reflective than the accepted limits (so slightly shaped by now that it is really difficult to quote him immediately after Alecsandri), however, a real poet - this is Mr. Mihail Eminescu. We have left from him several poems published in Convorbiri literare (Literary Conversations), all of them outlining the characteristics mentioned before, but also endowed with the magic effect of the language (the trademark of the chosen ones), a superior conception and, above all (a quality rarely met at our writers), full of love and understanding for ancient art:

An ideal hidden in the night of an age that now no longer is,
An age when men in legend thought, and soke their thoughts in poet’s wise,
Oh, but I see you, hear you, know you, sweet and youthful promises
Born of a world with other stars, with other gods and other skies.

Venus, warmly gleaming marble, with eyes of stone that brightly shine,
With arms as smooth and gentle as the dream of some high poet king,
A goddess and a woman fair that in one body do combine,
A woman of those beauty still e’en to the present day we sing.

There cannot be missed any pportunity to issue critical remarks on these poems. Venera si Madona (Venus and Madonna) contains a blurred comparison. Woman was worshipped in antique Venus and then (by Raphael) in Madonna. In the same way, over a lust’s hot hunger drawn and pale face, the poet casts the misty veil of poetry, and worships it. Anyway, Madonna is no idealization of Venus, as antique Venus in no sheer reality compared to modern Madonna. Thus, the following stanza,

As Rafael on canvas bare did the Madonna’s portrait paint…,

where the poet reiterates the comparison. This does not help in clarifying, but weakens the poem by repetition. Rather too calculated (recherchée as the French would call it), but original and effective is the transition to: Are you crying, dearest sweetheart?

Epigonii (Epigones)contains a striking exaggerated antithesis. To illustrate the epigones' paltriness, elder poets are overpraised. Critical readers today would hardly enjoy Tichindeal or Heliade's dithyrambical commendation.

Of the three poems by Eminescu, the best seems to us the last one, Mortua est, where a visible progress is meant about handling the language and a nimbleness of metrical structure.

But here, like in the other poems, there are mistakes that should be corrected by all means.

For instance, he indulges too freely in using pala (pale), a word that should not be used at all, as well as thoughts and expressions too ordinary for poetry, or rather uninspired rhymes.

We simply cannot understand, or put up with this carelessness of structure. First, Romanian public's indifference - which puts Tautu, Sion and tutti quanti in the same category with really valuable poets - and then the harmful haste of our entire intellectual activity (carried out under a permanent threat) somehow explain, but do not excuse the error remarked above.

Precisely in order to wake up the Romanian public from its indifference, only the most accurate aesthetic forms should be presented as art is called to provide a haven, in the midst of the political and social turmoil. When the beating - otherwise ephemeral - of a feeling heart is willing to take the shape of poetry, by this very desire, it reaches a world where time has no meaning. The most careful attention to formal neatness then becomes a duty of the poet, so that his outlook may remain an immaculate inheritance for the next generations. Anyway, at the moment of sheer enthusiasm, which poet would not forget the limits of reality and, warmed up by an often illusory trust, would not aspire to reach human immortality?"

(Translated by Junona Tutunea


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