THIS WEEK IN NYC 
 
 
 
MANHATTAN CHRONICLES POETRY
Two Poems by MIHAI EMINESCU (1849-1989)
Translation by Corneliu M. Popescu (Gloss) and Peter Grimm (Ode in Sapphic Meter) 
 
                                                                                  G  L   O   S    S
 
Days go past and days come still 
All is old and all is new, 
What is well and what is ill, 
You imagine and construe; 
Do not hope and do not fear, 
Waves that leap like waves must fall; 
Should they praise or should they jeer, 
Look but coldly on it all". 

Things you'll meet of many a kind, 
Sights and sounds, and tales no end, 
But to keep them all in mind 
Who would bother to attend ?... 
Very little does it matter, 
If you can yourself fulfil, 
That with idle, empty chatter 
"Days go past and days come still". 

Little heed the lofty ranging 
That cold logic does display 
To explain the endless changing 
Of this pageantry of joy, 
And which out of death is growing 
But to last an hour or two; 
For the mind profoundly knowing 
"All is old and all is new". 

As before some troup of actors, 
You before the world remain; 
Act they Gods, or malefactors, 
'Tis but they dressed up again. 
And their loving and their slaying, 
Sit apart and watch, until 
You will see behind their playing 
"What is well and what is ill". 

What has been and what to be 
Are but of a page each part 
Which the world do read is free. 
Yet who knows them off by heart ? 
All that was and is to come  
Prospers in the present too, 
But its narrow modicum 
"You image and construe". 

With the selfsame scales and gauges 
This great universe to weigh, 
Man has been for thousand ages 
Sometimes sad and sometimes gay; 
Other masks, the same old story, 
Players pass and reappear, 
Broken promises of glory; 
"Do not hope and do not fear". 

Do not hope when greed is staring 
O'er the bridge that luck has flung, 
These are fools for not despairing, 
On their brows though stars are hung; 
Do not fear if one or other 
Does his comrades deep enthrall, 
Do not let him call you brother 
"Waves that leap like waves must fall". 

Like the sirens' silver singing 
Men spread nets to catch their prey, 
Up and down the curtain swinging 
Midst a whirlwind of display. 
Leave them room without resistance, 
Nor their commentaries cheer, 
Hearing only from a distance, 
"Should they praise or should they jeer". 

If they touch you, do not tarry, 
Should they curse you, hold your tongue, 
All your counsel must miscarry 
Knowing who you are among. 
Let them muse and let them mingle, 
Let them pass both great and small; 
Unattached and calm and single, 
"Look but coldly on it all". 

"Look but coldly on it all, 
Should they praise or should they jeer; 
Waves that leap like waves must fall, 
Do not hope and do not fear. 
You imagine and construe 
What is well and what is ill; 
All is old and all is new, 
Days go past and days come still

 
              O D E 
                      (in Sapphic metre) 

That I'm doomed to die I believed it never; 
Always young and clad in my mantle I wandered, 
Dreaming eyes uplifted for ever fixed on   
      Solitude's starlight. 

When so sudden, there on my pathway rising, 
Sorrow, O so painfully sweet, thou comest! 
Then with deep delight to the dregs I drank thy 
      Merciless death cup. 

And like Nessus burning alive and tortured, 
Poisoned as was Hercules with his garment 
This great fire that's blazing in me I cannot 
      Quench with an ocean. 

My own dream consuming me, sore lamenting, 
On my pyre I die thus to ashes burning... 
Can I from it living arise as bringht as 
      Phoenix the immortal? 

Troubling eyes, go out of my way for ever! 
Back to me indifference dreary come now! 
That I may in quietness die, Ogive me 
      Back my old selfhood!  

*
 Mihai Eminescu is the national poet of Romania, from the Romantic Generation of Byron and Keats.