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                            Mihai Eminescu



     Mortua Est!
           by Mihai Eminescu, 1871

Watch-keeping flambeau over earth's wet mounds,
In saints' hours a bell tolling lugubrious sounds,
A dream with wing dipped in bitterest rigors,
'Tis thus you have crossed the world's last frontiers.

You passed when heaven's a field shining bright,
With rivers of milk and flowers of light,
When the clouds black seem but palace erect
That the moon, nightly queen, has come to inspect.

I see you as great silvered shadow bedazzling,
With wings high uplifted to heaven ascending,
Slow-climbing, pale soul, the scaffold of clouds,
Through showers of rays and star-laden shrouds.

A ray now uplifts you, a song takes you blessed,
Your white arms a-resting in cross on your breast,
When the spinning of spells is heard sounding fair
There's silver on waters and gold in the air.

Your innocent soul's flying through space I behold;
Then gaze at the loam that remains... white and cold,
Laid down in long winding-sheet chill,
I look on your smile that seems alive still—

And I query my torn soul, with doubts aghast,
You angel of pale face, why have you passed?
Were you not youthful, and fairest by far?
Have you gone to extinguish a radiant star?

Perchance there are, on high, castles well-built,
With star-spangled archways resplendently gilt, 
With rivers of fire spanned by bridges of silver,
With myrrh-scented shores and flowers that quaver;

For you to pass through, as most holy queen,
With long hair of rays, with eyes of great sheen,
In azure-hued vestments bespangled with gold,
On your pale forehead a laurels' wreath donned.

O, death is a chaos, a sea of stars' gleams,
While life is a mire of mutinous dreams;
O, death is an age beflowered with suns,
While life is a tale of ruinous runs.

But perchance... o! my head rages in storm,
My ill thoughts the good ones out-form...
When the suns die out and the stars fall off,
I fall to thinking that all is to scoff.

The highmost vault may sometime but sunder,
And Naught with its grand night might founder,
Black skies might then sift their worlds infernal—
As passing prey of death sempiternal...

If this should pass... then never, in time,
Shall your breath come warm and sublime,
Then your sweet voice is muted forever...
Then this angel was only loam's measure.

And yet, beauteous and defunct earth,
By your coffin I place my harp nothing-worth,
And mourn I do not, but rather feel glad
For a ray that is fled from planet bemad.

And then... who can tell whether 'tis better
To be or not to be... but 'tis known to the unclever
That what is not, cannot be pained,
And one is happy much less than is maimed.

To be? Madness at once gloomy and hollow;
The ear deceives and the eye fails to follow;
What a century finds, the next ones confute.
Better want nothing than a dream destitute.

I see dreams embodied chase fellow dreams,
Till they come upon graves bursting at seams,
And know not ways to extinguish my thought:
Laugh like the madmen? Curse? Bemoan their lot?

To what end?... Isn't all a mad blessing?
Your death, angel, why was it predestined?
Is there sense in the world? You smiling mien,
Have you but lived to perish so clean?

If sense be in this, 'tis inverted and atheist,
Your wan forehead bears no God radiant.


               Traducere: K.V. TWAIN

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