Mihai Eminescu: For The Star (From Romanian)

“Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars - mere globs of gas atoms. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination - stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one - million - year - old light. A vast pattern - of which I am a part... What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?” 
― Richard P. Feynman

Well, Richard Feynman, meet Mihai Eminescu who meditates on love in terms of some light that has travelled for thousands of years at a speed of 186,000 miles per second from a distant star to the Earth.  You two will get along well. Science, no less than religion, can make for good poetry.

For the Star
By Mihai Eminescu
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Romanian

It's been a long way for that star
Now rising in our skies:
Its light has trekked a thousand years
To reach our earthborn eyes.

It may have long ago burned out
Amid the blue of space
Yet only now its ray has come
To set our sights ablaze.

That icon of a perished star
Climbs heaven's canopy:
We who saw not the light that was
Now see what's ceased to be.

It's ever thus when our desires
Go, spent, into the night.
Our love still follows after us
With an extinguished light.

The Original:

La Steaua

La steaua care-a răsărit
E-o cale-atât de lungă,
Că mii de ani i-au trebuit
Luminii să ne-ajungă.

Poate de mult s-a stins în drum
În depărtări albastre,
Iar raza ei abia acum
Luci vederii noastre,

Icoana stelei ce-a murit
Încet pe cer se suie:
Era pe când nu s-a zărit,
Azi o vedem, şi nu e.

Tot astfel când al nostru dor
Pieri în noapte-adâncă,
Lumina stinsului amor
Ne urmăreşte încă.


  1. The Australian poet A. D. Hope used a similar conceit in the last stanza of 'X-Ray Photo'. You are a bloody prodigy, by the way.


  2. This was written 20 years before Einstein's theory of relativity. :)


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