Who is Mihai Eminescu?

All Romanians will answer: Our national poet. He represent the Romanian nation in mankind's concert. One of the greatest lyrical poets of world literature, comparable with Byron, Shelley or Lermontov, a revolutionary poet in terms of attitude, a poet whose life-span only lasted 39 years (1850-1889), to posterity an inestimable treasure of verse.  

He was born at Ipotesti and he attend elementary and secondary school in Cernauti. In 1867, he was employed as an actor and prompter in Iorgu Caragiale's theatrical company, and this gave him the opportunity to travel all over Romania, Transilvania and the Banat included (Banat- region in South Western Romania). An allowance from his father enabled him to go to Vienna to attend lectures on philosophy, history, law, political economy and Romance philology.  
 

 He made his literary debut in "Familia" (The Family- literary review issued in Oradea, Romania). In 1872, Eminescu enrolled as a student at the University of Berlin. Once back in Iasi, the poet became the director of the Central Library. Towards the end of 1877, he went to Bucharest upon accepting Titu Maiorescu's invitation to work for "Timpul" (The Times), one of the leading newspapers of the period. Between 1878- 1880, many of his love poems were published in "Convorbiri literare" (one of the best Romanian literary magazines of the time). Eminescu's masterpiece, "Luceafarul (Lucifer), was published in 1883. The only volume of poems printed during his lifetime appeared in the same year. Numerous other poems came out posthumously.

Eminescu- a model in which Romanian poetry of the 20th century. Lucian Blaga, George Bacovia, Tudor Arghezi, Ion Pillat, Alexandru Philippide, Emil Botta and Nichita Stanescu , very much as countless other existential queries revealing the antitheses of dialectics from the angles of ethics and beauty, of the real and the ideal, of the extremes ("Angel and Demon," "Venus and Madonna").

A poet , a prose-writer and a playwright , Mihai Eminescu marked in Romanian literature the exceptional moment of the meeting between the genius individual and genius (thinking and sensibility). His first model- Shakespeare, whom he styled "the great Briton", to whom he dedicated a genuine ode and whom he more than once conjured up in superlative terms. His second model was Romanian folklore- one of the richest and most generous in the world , in point of problems and themes, in point of philosophical as well as emotional vibration , open to whatever is truly human.

Time, space, life, death, love, hatred, landscapes , the real and the fantastic, myths, existential adventures, the search for one's own self, the joy of living, the possible and the impossible , the tragic and the comic, setting deeds on a cosmic orbit- are all integrated within a system of obsessions and relations which confers a timbre with polyphonic nuances upon his literary approach , attitude and manner.

Specialists in literary sources discern in this system universal as well as national points of reference, ancient as well as modern, Oriental (particularly Indian) as well as European (particularly German) of imagining (as in Hyperiong) the dramatic idyll between an earthly woman and an astral spirit, Luceafarul, antitheses characterise both the visible and the invisible elements of the macrocosm and microcosm. Nature- in the forest, on the borders of a lake, under the cascade of linden-tree blossoms, on the shore of the sea. In fact, Eminescu invites one to a transcendentalization of living. Which- an erotic plane- is translated into the fairy- like vision in "Calin (fragments from a tale)", into that of the revolt in "Mortua est", into the suavely diaphanous one in "So Fresh and Frail", into a call like "Oh, come to the wood!", in the symbol, of the "sky-blue flower", in that of "Prince Charming of the Linden Tree", in a synthesis-poem like "If Branches..."- to put it tersely, in "Survival".

Marin Sorescu, in a thrilling hymn ("They Had to Have a Name") dedicated to the man who equalled the nominalised with the anonymous:

There was no Eminescu.
 
"There was only a fine country   
On the shore of a sea,   
Where the waves tie white knots   
In the uncombed beard of a king-   
Like waters, like flowing trees   
In which the moon had its round nest.   
And more particularly there were some simple people   
Whose names were: Mircea the Old, Stephen the Great,   
Or plainer still: shepherds and ploughmen,   
Who-of an evening, around the fire-   
Enjoyed reciting poems:   
"The Little Ewe-Lamb" and "Hyperion" and "The Third Epistle".   

But as now and then they heard   
Their mastiffs barking at their sheepfold,   
They left to fight the invading Tartars   
And the Avars and the Hauns and the Poles   
And the Turks too.   
.........................................................   
There were moreover deep forests   
And a youth who would talk with them,   
Asking them why they swayed without a breath of wind?   
..................................................................................   
Also there were some linden-trees,   
And the young couple who knew   
How to make their blossoms snow   
Into a kiss.   
And some birds or some clouds   
Which kept floating over them,   
Like long, soft-moving plains.   

And since all of these   
Had to have a name,   
One name alone,   
They were named   
Eminescu.


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