Venus and Madonna

Autor : Mihai Eminescu - Eng

Oh, ideal lost in night-mists of a vanished universe:
People who would think in legends – all a world who spoke in verse;
I can see and think and hear you – youthful scout which gently nods
From a sky with different starlights, other Edens, other gods.

Venus made of blood-warm marble, stony eyes which often flash,
You embodied in a goddess woman’s beauty, charm and dash:
Arms as soft as is the thinking of an emp’ror born a poet;
Woman’s own divine attraction, still enticing as I saw it.

Raphael enwrapped in dreaming as below a starry sky
– Just a spirit drunk with light-rays and with Springs that never die –
Saw you and thus dreamed of Eden – flowery and redolent, –
Saw you as a queen of heaven, ‘mong the angels’ marriment,

And upon the empty canvas traced the God-Star of the Sea,
With a star-adorned tiara, with her bland smile, maidenly,
Pale complexion framed by gold rays – angel-like yet feminine:
After woman have been modelled angels in the vaults serene.

Thus myself, lost in the darkness of a life bent on the lyre,
Noticed you – a shallow woman, poor in soul and poor in fire –
And I wrought from you an angel, gentle as the magic day,
When, upon a life laid barren, blandly smiles a lucky ray.

Seeing that your face was pallid with a sickly drunkenness
And your lips turned purple, bitten by corruption and excess;
Cruel one, I cast upon you poetry’s veil – white and dense
Covering your morbid pallour with the beams of innocence,

I had given you the pale rays which pour, magic and unreal,
On the brow of genius-angels, of angel turned ideal;
I changed demon into vestal, giggles into symphony,
And your leering sidelong glanced into the Aurora’s glee.

But by now the veil has fallen! Tearing me from dreams of bliss
You are sobering my forehead with the frost-bite of your kiss
Now I’m looking at you, demon, and my love – quenched, cold, forlorn,
Teaches me to look upon you with the icy eye of scorn.

You appear as a bacchante who has stolen by deceit
Martyrdom’s green wreath of myrtle mingled with a maiden’s pleat
Holy was the Virgin’s spirit, prayer’s very counterpart,
While a long spasmodic frenzy pictures the bacchante’s heart.

Oh, as Raphael created our God-Star of the Sea,
With a star-adorned tiara, with her bland smile, maidenly,
I myself have rendered godly what was merely feminine,
Just a cold and leaden woman, barren-hearted, viperine!

Are you crying, child? – Your eyes which abjectly now supplicate –
Can they once more crush and crumble my heart of an apostate?
I have kissed your hand, I’m kneeling, searching your dark, sea-deep eyes
Asking them if you can pardon – humbly I apologize.

Wipe your eyes, abandon crying! My reproach was out of season –
Cruel, unjust accusation, lacking grounding, lacking reason.
Heart of hearts! E’en though a demon through our love you’re sanctified
And I venerate this demon with fair hair, eyes opened wide.

(1870, Translated by Andrei Bantas)

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