Mortua Est

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Two candles, tall sentry, beside an earth mound,
A dream with wings broken that trail to the ground,
Loud flung from the belfry calamitous chime...
'Tis thus that you passed o'er the bound'ries of time.

Gone by are the hours when the heavens entire
Flowed rivers of milk and grew flowers of fire,
When the thunderous clouds were but castles erect
Which the moon like a queen each in turn did inspect.

I see you a shadow bright silver transcending,
With wings high uplifted to heaven ascending,
I see you slow climbing through the sky's scaffold bars
Midst a tempest of light and a snowstorm of stars;

While the witches the sound of their spinning prolong,
Exalted in sunshine, swept up by a song,
O'er your breast like a saint you white arms crossed in prayer,
And gold on the water, and silver in the air.

I see your soul's parting, its flight I behold;
Then glaze at the clay that remains ... mute and cold,
At the winding-sheet clung to the coffin's rude sill,
At your smile sweet and candid, that seems alive still.

And i ask times unending my soul torn with doubt,
O why, pallid angel, your light has gone out,
For were you not blameless and wonderfully fair ?
Have you gone to rekindle a star in despair ?

I fancy on high there are wings without name,
Broad rivers of fire spanned by bridges of flame,
Strange castles that spires till the zenith up fling,
With stairways of incense and flowers that sing.

And you wonder among them, a worshipful queen,
With hair of bright starlight and eyes vespertine,
In a tunic of turquoise bespattered with gold,
While a wreath of green laurels does your forehead enfold.

O, death is a chaos, an ocean of stars gleaming,
While life is a quagmire of doubts and of dreaming,
Oh, death is an aeon of sun-blazoned spheres,
While life but a legend of wailing and tears.

Trough my head beats a whirlwind, a clamorous wrangle
Of thoughts and of dreams that despair does entangle;
For when suns are extinguished and meteors fail
The whole universe seems to mean nothing at all.

Maybe that one day the arched heavens will sunder,
And down through their break all the emptiness thunder,
Void's night o'er the earth its vast nothing extending,
The loot of an instant of death without ending.

If so, then forever your flame did succumb,
And forever your voice from today will be dumb.
If so, then hereafter can bring no rebirth.
If so, then this angel was nothing but earth.

And thus, lovely soil that breath has departed,
I stand by your coffin alone broken-hearted;
And yet i don't weep, rather praise for its fleeing
Your ray softly crept from this chaos of being.

For who shell declare which is ill and which well,
The is, or the isn't ? Can anyone tell ?
For he who is not, even grief can't destroy,
And oft is the grieving, and seldom the joy.

To exist! O, what nonsense, what foolish conceit;
Our eyes but deceive us, our ears but cheat,
What this age discovers, the next will deny,
For better just nothing than naught a lie.

I see dreams in men's clothing that after dreams chase,
But that tumble in tombs ere the end of the race,
And i search in may soul how this horror to fly,
To laugh like a madman ? To curse ? Or to cry ?

O, what is the meaning ? What sense does agree ?
The end of such beauty, had that what to be ?
Sweet seraph of clay where still lingers life's smile,
Just in order to die did you live for a while ?

O, tell me the meaning. This angel or clod ?
I find on her forehead no witness of God.

English version by Corneliu M. Popescu
Transcribed by Ana- Maria Ene
School No. 10, Focsani, Romania

© Mihai Eminescu