Mihai Eminescu: And if (From Romanian)

(Yes, I know, this poem sounds immensely cheesy. But I didn't think it was right not to include at least one poem by Eminescu, and if you read carefully you'll notice something underneath the cheesiness)

And if...
By Mihai Eminescu
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

And if my window feels the branch
Of a stuttering poplar tree,
It is to make me dream once more
Of clasping you to me.

And if the stars glow on the lake
And light its darkling shoal,
It is to flood my mind with peace
And quell my roiling soul.

And if the clouds draw themselves back
To let the moon blaze through,
It is to make my heart recall
How hard I ache for you.

The Original:

Şi dacă...

Şi dacă ramuri bat în geam
Şi se cutremur plopii,
E ca în minte să te am
Şi-ncet să te apropii.

Şi dacă stele bat în lac
Adâncu-i luminându-l,
E ca durerea mea s-o-mpac
Înseninându-mi gândul.

Şi dacă norii deşi se duc
De iese-n luciu luna,
E ca aminte să-mi aduc
De tine-ntotdeauna.


  1. Wow! You know romanian? I'm quite surprised! What motivated you to learn the language besides your "mania for language" How did you learned it? Please allow me to recommend you to read "Eu nu strivesc corola de minuni a lumii" by Lucian Blaga and "Poveste sentimentala" by Nichita Stănescu.

  2. When I was working on Balkan languages (specifically, for a paper on the possible influence of Latin on the Balkan sprachbund) a large number of the secondary source material was in Albanian and Romanian and I needed to be able to read it.

    Many thanks for the recommendations

  3. i left romania when i was 14 and i used to love reading poems by eminescu, cosbuc, arghezi and the rest (pre-communism) and although I have some books in romanian, it is hard for me to translate them to my family and children, but your translation is really good - thanks

  4. "and if branches knock on the window".......the evoked effect is one of sound heard,not one of any kind of feeling.windows don't feel.try mac

  5. I can do a 10 times better job, and I'm not a poet, though I know both languages. Please take down this insult to Eminescu and Romanian language. Poetry is something to be understood and felt. You did neither.

  6. Well, maybe I was too hard on you. For a long time they said Eminescu is "not translatable". That was because the metaphors used cannot be understood by another culture. Only a Romanian can translate Eminescu. Many have tried, but all failed. Except one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corneliu_M._Popescu
    He is the best, bar none. Too bad he was killed in 1977 earthquake, when he was only 17. What a waste....

  7. Stumbled over this blog by accident and felt compelled to add a comment...Congrats AZ for your interest and effort!
    There is a another very good and published translator from Romanian to English: Adrian George Sahlean, if you care to check him out...

    It definitely helps to be Romanian but I do not think it's a necessary condition to do a good translation. A bit more passion, effort and time for the endeavor would probably suffice...of course, doubled with poetic feeling.

    Eminescu was a romantic poet, this poem was published in 1883, thus "cheesiness" is not an applicable epithet; the poem needs to be judged in its context, not by modern standards.

    And I can offer my own version of "And if...", if any help to keep the conversation interesting. I am a Romanian transplant in US...

    And if…

    And if the branches tap the glass
    As poplars gently swing,
    It’s in my mind for you to last
    And slowly close to bring.

    And if the shining stars the lake
    With light its bottom glean,
    It’s to appease my bosom’s ache
    And make my thought serene.

    And if the clouds away then part
    And let the moon shine through,
    It’s that forever in my heart
    And always will be you.