Mihai Eminescu (January 15, 1850 – June 15, 1889), was a late Romantic poet, the best-known and most influential Romanian poet. Famous poems include “Luceafarul” (“Evening Star”), “Oda in metru antic” (“Ode in ancient meter”), and the five “Scrisori” (“Epistles/Satires”). Eminescu has been active in the “Junimea” literary society, and served as editor of “Timpul”, the official newspaper of the Conservative Party. Works Nicolae Iorga, the Romanian historian, considers Eminescu the godfather of the modern Romanian language. He is unanimously celebrated as the greatest and most representative Romanian poet. The poet
His poems span a large range of themes, from nature and love to history and social commentary. His childhood years were evoked in his later poetry with deep nostalgia. Eminescu was influenced by the work of Arthur Schopenhauer, and some have suggested that his most famous poem, “Luceafarul”, includes elements of Vedic cosmogony. Eminescu’s poems have been translated in over 60 languages. His life, work and poetry strongly influenced the Romanian culture and studying his poems is a requirement in Romanian public schools and often memorization and analysis of “Luceafarul” is mandatory for high school graduation exams.
His most famous poems are: •Doina (the name is a traditional type of Romanian song), 1884 •Lacul (The Lake), 1876 •Luceafarul (The Evening Star), 1884 •Floare albastra (Blue Flower), 1884 •Dorinta (Desire), 1884 •Sara pe deal (Evening on the Hill), 1885 •O, ramii (Oh, Linger On), 1884 •Epigonii (Epigones), 1884 •Scrisori (Letters or “Epistles-Satires”) •Si daca (And if… ), 1883 •Oda (in metru antic) (Ode (in Ancient Meter)), 1883 •Mai am un singur dor (I Have Yet One Desire), 1883 The storyteller Prose: •Fat-Frumos din lacrima (Prince Charming, The Tear-Begotten) •Geniu pustiu (Empty Genius) Sarmanul Dionis (Wretched Dionis) •Cezara (a proper name) Collected edition: •Poems and Prose of Mihai Eminescu (editor: Kurt W. Treptow, publisher: The Center for Romanian Studies, Iasi, Oxford, and Portland, 2000, ISBN 973-9432-10-7) contains a selection of English-language renditions of Eminescu’s poems and prose. The genius Eminescu was only 20 when Titu Maiorescu, the top literary critic in 1870 Romania dubbed him “a real poet”, in an essay where only a handful of the Romanian poets of the time were spared Maiorescu’s harsh criticism.
In the following decade, Eminescu’s fame as a poet grew continually thanks to (1) the way he managed to enrich the literary language with words and phrases from all Romanian regions, from old texts, and with new words that he coined from his wide philosophical readings; (2) the use of bold metaphors, much too rare in earlier Romanian poetry; (3) last but not least, he was arguably the first Romanian writer who published in all Romanian provinces and was constantly interested in the problems of Romanians everywhere.
He defined himself as a Romantic, in a poem addressed To My Critics (Criticilor mei), and this designation, his untimely death as well as his bohemian lifestyle (he never pursued a degree, a position, a wife or fortune) had him associated with the Romantic figure of the genius. As early as the late 1880s, Eminescu had a group of faithful followers. His 1883 poem Luceafarul was so famous that a new literary review took its name after it.
The national poet He was soon proclaimed Romania’s national poet, not because he wrote in an age of national revival, but rather because he was received as an author of paramount significance by Romanians in all provinces. Even today, he is considered the national poet of Romania, Moldova, and of the Romanians who live in the Ukrainian part of Bucovina. Political views
Due to his conservative nationalistic views, Eminescu was easily adopted as an icon by the Romanian right. A major obstacle to their fully embracing him was the fact he never identified himself as a Christian and his poetry rather indiscriminately uses Buddhist, Christian, agnostic, and atheist themes. After a decade when Eminescu’s works were criticized as “mystic” and “bourgeois”, Romanian Communists ended up adopting Eminescu as the major Romanian poet.
What opened the door for this thaw was the poem Imparat si proletar (Emperor and proletarian) that Eminescu wrote under the influence of the 1870-1871 events in France, and which ended in a Schopenhauerian critique of human life. An expurgated version only showed the stanzas that could present Eminescu as a poet interested in the fate of proletarians.