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This Is The Most Beautiful Poem You’ve Never Ever Heard Of

Start your weekend with a bit of wonder.

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Not many people are into poetry or philosophy these days - and even fewer are into both (what a shame). But, coming from a girl who never had much patience for poems, this is something that deeply amazed me.

Meet Lucian Blaga: a incredibly gifted poet, writer and philosopher of the last century.

Why have you never heard this odd sounding name before? Well, because he is a Romanian. And after the Second World War, when the communist regime came to power in Romania (as we are an Eastern European country), he did not support the communists. So all his work was forbbiden; even when he was nominated for the Nobel Prize, the government protested. Yay, censorship.

As I am student who recently finished high school in Romania (now a somewhat happier democracy), I had the opportunity to learn about him both as a writer, as well as a philosopher. His most famous poem, and one of his firsts is called Eu nu strivesc corola de minuni a lumii. Published in 1919, it is quite a synthesis of both his poetic and philosophical view of the world.

It is so extraordinary I felt it was a shame that not more non-romanians know it; so I eagerly searched for the English tranlation. And found absolutely no even half-decent one. I know that translating poetry, especially when expressionist and modernist (as this is) is hard, but come on, people!

So I took the matters into my own, amateur hands and tried my best to translate it myself. Here it is: first, the original, in Romanian and my attempt in English.

Eu nu strivesc corola de minuni a lumii

Eu nu strivesc corola de minuni a lumii

şi nu ucid

cu mintea tainele, ce le-ntâlnesc

în calea mea

în flori, în ochi, pe buze ori morminte.

Lumina altora

sugrumă vraja nepătrunsului ascuns

în adâncimi de întuneric,

dar eu,

eu cu lumina mea sporesc a lumii taină -

şi-ntocmai cum cu razele ei albe luna

nu micşorează, ci tremurătoare

măreşte şi mai tare taina nopţii,

aşa îmbogăţesc şi eu întunecata zare

cu largi fiori de sfânt mister

şi tot ce-i neînţeles

se schimbă-n neînţelesuri şi mai mari

sub ochii mei-

căci eu iubesc

şi flori şi ochi şi buze şi morminte.

I shall not crush the crown of endless wonders of the world

I shall not crush the crown of endless wonders of the world

and shall not kill

using my mind, the secrets which I find

across my path

in flower, eyes, on lips or graves.

The light of others

destroys the spell of all untouchable and hidden

in depths of darkness,

but I,

I, with my light, I grow the world's arcana-

and in the way the white rays of the moon

do not diminish, but, trembling

enlarge just so much more the enigma of the night,

so I enrich the dark horizon

with deep shivers of holy mistery

and all which is not understood

changes into something even more unknown

under my eyes-

because I love

flowers and eyes and lips and graves.

If you would understand my language, I assure you it would sound seven times better. Nevertheless, you probably get the right vibe just by reading it; but if you know a bit of Blaga’s philosophy everything becomes so much deeper and more beautiful. So let me enlighten you a bit.

Blaga’s philosophical system centers around the concept of mystery, and the importance of creativity and art, seen as the most defining traits of humans. The world is seen as a perfect, harmonious and eternal source of endless mysteries for the human mind. He believes that there is a certain point (calling it the Transcendental Censorship) which is the farthest mankind can ever reach in knowledge – all that awaits behind it will forever remain a mystery. As you can see, very much of this poem refers to all that is unknown and enigmatic.

So, he makes the difference between two very different types of knowledge, which I could roughly translate as: Paradisiac Knowledge and Luciferian Knowledge. Paradisiac Knowledge is associated to sciene and reason; it generates safety, security, comfort, it makes it possible for us the make predictions but it can never, ever fully comprehend the mystery of the universe. On the other hand, there is Luciferian Knowledge, associated to arts and philosophy; Luciferian Knowledge does not untangle the world’s secrets, but it contributes to them, makes them even more complicated, raises new questions, created discomfort and uncertainty for the mind and soul.

In this poem, Blaga chooses and fully embraces Luciferian Knowledge, as he wishes to enlarge just so much more the enigma of the night. So, his option, my light, is the Luciferian Knowledge, while the light of others, which destroys the beauty of the universe, is considered to be the Paradisiac Knowledge.

Another little fun fact worth explaining: the methaphors of flower, eyes, lips and graves are symbols for the things we discover as we live. The flowers represent the concrete, ephemeral, tangible beauty of the world; the eyes are the vision, the knowledge itself; the lips mean love and sensuality and the graves stand for death and what is unknown during our lifetime.

So there you have it, now go live your life and enjoy the wonders of it all!

P.S: English is, obviously, not my first language, so I apologise for any eventual mistakes I have made.

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