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English language
Foreword by Corneliu M. Popescu
Limba Romana
Cuvint Inainte de Corneliu M. Popescu
In this English version of Eminescu's poems, I have followed the text of the Maiorescu edition and as far as order and arrangement are concerned I have used the second edition, except for the poem "Now Far I Am From You". In my opinion this poem should be placed immediately after "Solitude", not as it was placed by Maiorescu. In this way, we are very close to Eminescu who considered, when publishing "Solitude" in Convorbiri Literare of March 1, 1878, that the lines commencing "Now far I am from you ..." are a continuation of the above poem and therefore attached to it. After the poem "To the Critics", which closes Maiorescu's second edition, I have added some poems from other Maiorescu editions and some dating from the period of Eminescu's adolescence which do not appear in Maiorescu.

I have chosen the second edition seeing that two represents my beloved mother's birthday; she was born on the second day of the second month (February 2) and it is to her that I want to dedicate my literary activity.

The words doina, toaca, cobza and candela, are given as they appear in the original. I have considered the English substitutes would rob them of all significance and colour.

With regard to the use of Lucifer in place of Luceafarul, it could be objected that Lucifer denotes the devil and not, like Luceafarul, a personification of the prince of light, symbolized by a star. This is incorrect. In English mythology, Lucifer holds a place almost identical to that which Luceafarul holds in the Romanian one, namely that of the prince of light, visibly symbolized by a star. To translate Luceafarul by the simple designation of evening-star would be to deprive it of all personality.

A few words may not be out of place here with regard to accent. Everywhere throughout his works, Eminescu is found to prefer simplicity, clarity and reliance upon his genuinely divine inborn sense of poetic expression to rigid adherence to any limiting metrical form. Everywhere in his poems one is struck by his extreme flexibility in metre. One continually finds, for instance, rhymes upon the penultimate following directly upon rhymes upon the ultimate and vice-versa. Unhampered freedom of this sort in the hands of a poet of such stature as Eminescu has given truly wonderful results, and it is very largely for this reason that his poems possess that remarkable fluidity and easy grace which so often give them the power and simplicity of a spoken word. It is this characteristic which allows his poems to be interpreted with veracity, not only of meaning and form, but also of colour and atmosphere, which the work of few poets will allow.

Almost all the words which apply to the primary forms of nature, and which are at the foundation of Eminescu's poetry, being of ancient origin in English - for the most part of Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Old Germanic stock - they are monosyllables. In Romanian, on the other hand, the reverse is almost as invariable. A few examples will make this clear. Among the words which are found more often in Eminescu's poems, the following regarding nature certainly come first: tree, branch, twig, leaf, bird, spring, brook, stone, rock, cliff, ground, soil, sun, moon, star, earth, sea, sky, day, night, light, dark, etc. These (and the list could, of course, be continued almost indefinitely) are all monosyllables in English, while their equivalents in Romanian, without exception, are polysyllables. With the exception of body itself, the names of the parts of the human body show the same divergence: foot, leg, knee, calf, thigh, waist, arm, hand, skin, face, eye, ear, mouth, lip, cheek, chin, etc. Of the emotions and so on: love, hate, faith, hope, fear, grief, joy, pain, etc., etc., etc . . . Had Eminescu therefore pedantically adhered to some rigid poetic form, for instance a rhyme upon the penultimate, all these primary words of our language would, quite obviously, have been eliminated from the English interpretation, and the result would have been an entire loss of precisely that natural simplicity for which Eminescu is most remarkable.

This marked difference in word length between the two languages has resulted in a greater number of words for the same number of syllables in English than in the original, a difference which seems to be of little, if any detriment to the work in hand. By consistently avoiding these fundamental words and preferring those of later origin in the English language, apprehension to fear, aspiration to hope, and so on, this difference in the precise number of words to the line could easily have been overcome to some extent, but the result would have been a loss of all resemblance to the original, and of every atom of poetic value as well. Rather has the above difference in the relative word length in the two languages been welcome, for it has allowed the English language a mobility and amplitude without which it would have been impossible to retain to any appreciable extent the peculiar fragrance and natural beauty of this great Romanian poet, of this great universal poet.

I could achieve this English version of Eminescu's poems thanks to my coach, Ion Kleante Gheorghiu, who helped me to enhance my command of the language, making me enjoy its beauty and subtleties. He kindly allowed me to consult his rich set of dictionaries.

My concern with literature was aroused during my early school-years by my teacher Natalia Mirescu, kept alive by my following teachers of Rumanian and enhanced by my present teacher Maria Pavnotescu of Lycee Nicolae Balcescu.

But I am aware that I owe everything to my beloved parents, and particularly to my mother, who devote all her forces to preparing me for an active and useful life in society.

Corneliu M. Popescu
In aceasta versiune in Iimba engleza a poeziilor lui Eminescu, am folosit in materie de text editia Maiorescu si am urmat in privinta ordinii si aranjamentului poeziilor din editia a doua, cu exceptia poeziei "Departe sint de tine". Dupa opinia mea, locul acesteia este imediat dupa poezia "Singuratate" si nu in alta parte, cum a facut Maiorescu. Astfel sintem foarte aproape de Eminescu, care la 1 martie 1878 in Convorbiri Literare considera versurile incepind cu "Departe sint de tine..." ca o continuare a poeziei "Singuratate" si le-a inclus in ea. Dupa poezia "Criticilor mei", cu care se incheie editia a doua Maiorescu, am adaugat unele poezii din alte editii Maiorescu, precum si citeva poezii din perioada de adolescenta a lui Eminescu care nu apar la Maiorescu.

Am ales editia a doua, deoarece cifra "doi" reprezinta ziua, si luna de nastere (2 februarie) a iubitei mele "mamicute", careia doresc sa-i dedic aceasta activitate literara.

Cuvintele doina, toaca, cobza fi candela sint date asa cum apar in original. Am considerat ca un substituent englez le-ar fi lipsit de intreaga lor semnificajie fi culoare.

In ceea ce priveste folosirea lui Lucifer in loc de Luceafarul, s-ar putea obiecta ca Lucifer denumeste diavolul, nu asa precum a face Luceafarul, o personificare a printutui luminii, simbolizat de o stea. Nu este corect. In mitologia engleza, Lucifer tine un rol aproape identic cu cel ocupat de Luceafar in cea romana, anume acela al printului luminii, simbolizat de catre o stea. A traduce Luceafarul prin simpla denumire de evening-star ar insemna a-l lipsi de orice fel de personalitate.

Citeva cuvinte sint necesare in ceea ce priveste accentul. Peste tot in lucrarile sale, se constata ca Eminescu prefera simplitatea, claritatea, si increderea in propriul simt innascut al exprimarii poetice, decit o aderare rigida la vreo forma metrica restrictiva oarecare. Peste tot in lucrarile sale, esti impresionat de extrema flexibilitate in materie de metru. Gasesti mereu, de exemplu, rime pe penultima urmind direct dupa rime pe ultima si vice versa. In miinile unui poet de talia lui Eminescu, o asemenea libertate a dat rezultate minunate, si acest motiv contribuie in mare masura a da poeziilor o remarcabila fluiditate si o gratie usoara ce atit de deseori le confera puterea si simplitatea unui cuvint vorbit. Aceasta caracteristica permite poeziilor sale sa fie interpretate cu veracitate, nu numai de inteles si forma, ci si de culoare si atmosfera, ceea ce nu se poate spune decit despre operele a numai citorva poeti.

In limba engleza, aproape toate cuvintele care exprima formele primare ale naturii, si care se afla la temeliile poeticei eminesciene, fiind de origine foarte veche, in cea mai mare parte din radacini anglo-saxone, celtice si germanice vechi, sint monosilabe. Pe de alta parte in limba romana inversul apare aproape invariabil. Pentru mai multa claritate, dau citeva exemple. Dintre cuvintele relative la natura, ce apar cel mai frecvent in poeziile lui Eminescu pe primul loc se afla urmatoarele copac, ramura, crenguta, frunza, pasare, piriu, piatra, stinca, faleza, pamint, soare, luna, stea, tarana, mare, cer, zi, noapte, lumina, intuneric etc. Acestea (lista ar putea, desigur, sa fie continuata la infinit) sint toate monosilabe in engleza, in timp ce echivalentul lor romanesc este polisilabic. Cu exceptia cuvintului body, numele partilor corpului omenesc dovedesc aceeasi divergenta foot, leg, knee, calf, thigh, waist, arm, hand, skin, face, eye, ear, mouth, lip, cheek, chin etc. De asemenea emotiile si altele love, hate, faith, hope, fear, grief, joy, pain etc., etc., etc . . . Daca Eminescu ar fi aderat in mod pedant la vreo forma poetica rigida, toate cuvinte primare ale limbii noastre, evident, ar fi fost eliminate din interpretarea englezeasca si rezultatul ar fi fost tocmai totala pierdere a acelei simplitati naturale care este atit de remarcabila la Eminescu.

Aceasta diferenta flagranta de lungime a cuvintelor in cele doua limbi a provocat un numar mai mare de cuvinte pentru un numar identic de silabe in engleza, fata de original, o diferenta ce nu pare sa aiba vreo importanta in ceea ce priveste rezultatul final. Evitind mereu aceste cuvinte fundamentale, si preferind pe acele de origina. mai tirzie in limba engleza, apprehension in loc de fear, aspiration in loc de hope s.a.m.d., s-ar fi putut evita cu usurinta acest inconvenient, intr-o oarecare masura, dar rezultutul ar fi fost o pierdere de asemanare cu originalul, si de asemenea a unei parti din valoarea poetica. Mai degraba s-ar spune ca aceasta diferenta in raportul lungimii cuvintelor a fost binevenita, caci a permis in engleza mobilitate, si amplitudine fara de care ar fi fost imposibila sa se pastreze, intr-o oarecare masura, parfumul special si frumusetea naturala a acestui mare poet roman .. a acestui mare poet universal.

Am reusit sa realizez aceasta versiune in limba engleza a acestor poezii ale lui Eminescu datorita profesorului meu Ion Kleante Gheorghiu, care m-a ajutat sa-mi imbunatatesc stapinirea limbii, facindu-ma sa gust frumusetea si subtilitatile sale. El mi-a permis cu amabilitate sa consult bogatul sau set de dictionare.

Interesul meu pentru literatura a fost stirnit in cursul primilor mei ani de scoala de catre profesoara Natalia Mirescu, a fost intretinut de profesorii mei de romana ce au urmat si desavirsit de actuala profesoara Maria Pavnotescu de la liceul Nicolae Balcescu.

Dar sint constient ca datorez totul iubitilor mei parinti - si mai ales mamei mele - care-si consacra toate fortele spre a ma pregati pentru o viata activa si utila in societate.


Corneliu M. Popescu
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