Aug 20 2020

Through the looking glass

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 0:00

The national poet of Romania is one of our biggest romantics. He has written poems about political and historic topics, but he is most known for his poetry on love.

One of his works of art is a poem 99 verses long that narrates the story of love between a human, mortal girl and the immortal Lucifer, which is not the devil in this story but a boy living on the North Star. Or actually being the North Star. It’s quite unclear from the poem, but he is immortal and beautiful and represents that unattainable love interest.

They fall in love looking at each other at night and he comes down from the sky for her. Which is not an easy task to do, but he does it for love. He intends to marry her, but there is a catch. He asks her to come with him to his world, but she refuses. Apparently his immortality scares her and she tells him: “You are dead/I am alive/You are a stranger/Giving me the chills” (non-poetic translation right here).

She asks him to give up being immortal to be with her and he goes to his father (which is probably god, but his name is not uttered in the poem) and asks for this. This is not an easy task either and it also takes a while to travel and reach his father. While he goes through all this, she falls in love with a boy living in the castle. His father says no obviously and sends him to see the one for which he was ready to become mortal. He goes back to his place in the sky, and when the night comes, he looks down at his lover to see her in the arms of the mortal boy. He calls her a “face of clay” and the poem ends with him saying the following (this an attempt at a poetic translation, I tried to keep the meaning and some rhymes for you, so it sounds nice):

Wasting away your little lives,
The nothing takes ahold,
While in my world I always feel,
Immortal and so cold.

I went for a run today and on my run I was thinking about this poem. Because of some personal circumstance I am now detached from most of my life, friends and family and I too sometimes feel “Immortal and cold”.

Let me explain.

I have just celebrated my 37th birthday. When my mom was 37 she two kids, one of them a teenager. That was me btw.;) I am not living a default way of life. And I know in theory we are an evolved society that no longer sees getting married and having kids as a default… but in practice we do. It is a known fact that when you live your life different than other people in your small universe, that makes you the odd one out and brings with it some isolation. Because people are social animals, they build exclusive clubs around the same passions and occupations; around the things they have in common. If you have nothing to share with most people in your small universe, you will be isolated and excluded.

So, I am the odd one out. People I grew up with live mostly default lives and the ones that are closer to me to their best to include me in their lives. And I do my best to stick myself in there as well. But I am still detached – the distance is a factor of course – and I am looking at their lives unfold, while mine seems to advance slower. My friends have kids, it is easy to quantify how time passes for them, because the kids grow up and they change fast. Also being burdened with mortgages and being the best parents, they can be, changes them in ways I will not be changed. We all change, we grow old, white hairs start sprouting and ruining our beautiful manes. It might be an illusion, but the distance and my different life makes me feel as I am an observer to their lives. I see my friends, family and acquaintances living their lives, dealing with issues I don’t have to deal with, making decisions that I would not make, and I feel detached, I feel pretty much to how Lucifer does in the poem.

There is no conclusion here, just a glimpse into my feelings and a reference to one of the greatest Romanian poems ever written. ;)

Stay safe, stay happy!

[Later edit]: I am sure you can find an English translation of Luceafărul, by Mihai Eminescu online. But if I receive a few comments to this entry asking me to have a shot at it, I will do it. I have’t written poetry since 2010, but I might be ready to give it another try. :D

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