In my search for Scheherazade
by Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889)
I climbed down and I clinked glasses with the gods,
In Nordic Seas, throughout long and grey passages,
I hang my harp in the evergreen forest.
I made love to a woman.
I forged into stars the gold from her curls.
I shook the cameo gem on her knees.
I kissed crafty gazes that she had on her eyes.
I laughed with her, leaning on my shoulders.
I quenched from her mouth, her long thirst for tenderness.
Then I left. She shed tears.
The sea opened for me its blue gates.
And the north cold had stifled my burning pain.
I went to the South, where islands like giant vases,
Rise from the sacred seas with a multitude of flowers,
Which are like crops of stars.
And my constant song had stretched its wings of fire,
Flying to the stars, until into the distance
I lost sight of the Earth.
Wood planks float on the blue waves.
My old craft is heavy of sinister thoughts.
I can’t tell if I’m on aimless paths or fated ones.
My life is like a strip of a crop of alfalfa,
It is levelled without depth or hight
— Its extinct volcano had extinguished its endless lava.
But oh, what do I see? Is it a reverie?
Something faint lifts up rocky ridges out of the low-tide sea.
Can anyone tell me what miracle is this? No one can tell me?
A sky stretches slowly in the distance bit by bit,
Amid chopped cliffs, which are slightly splashed
By the waves of the briny sea;
I see high mountains reach to the skies.
Valleys with water-springs stretch under the sun.
And high hills elevate large forests on their backs.
It is the East. The forests with magnificent high tops
Want to be higher than the clouds.
Towns open their magnificence beyond the forests.
The ancient cities come to light spotless
Beyond the forests, beyond the fresh plains
Beyond the clouds, and beyond great wilds
Scented by the wind's blow, and by the mountains
And these cities look white and fabulous.
The land is rich with amazing stories.
And the clouds hang visions on the skies
With fire and gold that get into formation like armies.
The forests complain, and the sea sleeps with spasms.
I reach the seashore. A small coast is bent like a harp
Which breathes in the sunshine
And has recurring waves in long rows.
I set free my European-style craft,
Which has heavy and menacing thoughts.
It scatters on waves into planks shattered on rocks.
First thing what I run into, on the shore, it is a tumult.
It’s certainly a prophet for the human life
Saying that people are like ash, and life is like smoke.
Pie in the sky — human luck you —
Think not, that with futile desires
I search for my luck, so I can find you.
I let others build from ruins,
Buildings, which last one day on the stable back
Of the old-Earth — that line of work is not for me.
They carry mad longings in the “ants hills” of Europe.
In their whole life they don’t get it,
That what they look for is not in this world.
They look for truth. They find lies.
Nations come and go. People fool themselves.
I don’t seek truth. I seek wisdom.
Because if a mind is empty of good judgment,
No matter how many truths it knows,
It is a source for anger and ill health.
No matter how much gold one hoards in coffers,
The anger cannot be hushed with gold.
Peace can only be found in one’s heart.
This moment, weighs very little on the scales of wisdom.
And wisdom means happiness.
I fill my bags with the riches from the East
And I fill my thought with its thoughts.
I direct my step there, to the grey giant walls,
Which were placed there by nature.
From summit’s crown, rise dark cliffs.
From deep forests that cover the mountains,
Which hardly show snowy peaks,
Palm trees grow in the sun throughout the mountains.
Olive trees grow throughout bay leaf meadows.
Date palms in bloom grow on green patches.
Alder trees raise trunks throughout gravel ground,
Which are spread over riverbanks. Below rocks about to fall,
Springs spray over the moss on the roots of the trees.
White seraglios made of gold domes, rise to the sky
Throughout the beautiful gardens;
The ancient city seems showered with stars.
And sprawled throughout laurel meadows,
Stand white houses, quiet safe places.
Verses written in Moorish script are on gates.
And the streets are paved with granite
And the sacred groves are without a gate.
There are flowers sawn by the fire on hill-terraces.
White girls with their rosy cheeks sit on gentle slopes.
They comb repeatedly their dark hair in the sun.
Or they sit absentmindedly, being troubled by love.
Oh, this is the shinny bastion
Where the Great Maharaja of India resides.
He is a sun under the sun.
His wife is the pretty Scheherazade
Full of wisdom and beauty;
And only the sun is allowed to look at her.
My feet climb up on marble stairs,
In a seraglio with a circular dome;
My shadow is cast on high pillars to my side.
Under the gate’s arch I step on flowery carpet tiles.
It is a path all the way through high gold vases.
In it, the tall lilies rise above the water springs.
Pillars rise on white marble walls,
Which, reflect green leafs and red flowers
On their smooth, reddish and purple surface;
A cool scent distracts my senses.
The door in a hallway is wide open.
My astonished eye could see new wonders.
A painter blossomed the ceiling and the walls
With slender faces— oriental tales —
And with subtle styles of his thoughts;
Houries sleep on long pillows.
And from silvery perfume burners
Smoulder a blue scented smoke,
Which covers the edges of the painting.
Curtains rise in a canopy,
With red velvet ribbed on the edges,
And screen a bed full of silk pillows.
And on that bed, like on a throne sown with stars,
On which the wise queen come into sight
She strings lines of pearls on her lap.
Like in a dream of desire, she stretches smiling
Her small and bare white feet
On a cherry-coloured seat made from smooth velvet.
Pains, years, and all those dreams that
Look real to my eye, are in my detriment.
I’m in awe that on Mount Olympus, a satyr is in awe.
She is stunning in her dream of bliss.
She lights the hall with her white face.
And her eyes are a source of mysteries.
Her eyes are large and intense, like almonds.
Her black hair, and her white body are sunk in pillows.
She is an Italian virgin.
Who could see her and not fall on his knees?
I kneeled. 'You stranger —victim of your desires—
I knew that you would come
And listen to me, and carry from me
The flower of wisdom and beauty;
So you light up the idea in you.
I am a psychic-witch, who with a streak of tales and mystery,
I know how to draw towards me
Poets with desire in their hearts;
Stand up! Come and take a seat close to me.
Climb up on this pillow… All of a sudden
She flattens it with her bare hand.
I listened…I leaned on a side
I kneeled on lovely chic pillows,
Like the worshipers, from long gone times.
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