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The making of Romanian modernist poetry.

The Sun that is God's tear

Among names such as Bacovia, Barbu and Arghezi, deeply imprinted in Romanian consciousness and feeling, Lucian Blaga is undoubtedly the most prominent poet, philosopher and aesthetician of the interwar culture, if taken all in one. The two-way relationship between philosophy and poetry / fiction has been debated over on numerous occasions, with arguments on both sides. In my opinion, writers of all times have a particular relationship with philosophy and in the twentieth century the fundaments of their work prove so rich and solid, that we often witness the formation of the complete author--a concept reformulated according to the requirements of a dense reality of writing. Hence the huge challenge facing Blaga, who not only produced an impressive poetical work, but made a name for himself among the aestheticians of the time. And if he had to do directly with philosophy, after his PhD studies in Vienna and his subsequently articulated philosophical system, the work's stability and signification was much consolidated with the philosophical metatext.

I intend to refer Blaga, the poet, to his doctrinal ambitions, shouldering the herculean task of getting Romanian poetry free from Classicism, Romanticism and restoring it, in free verse, to Modernism. The Poems of Light must have sounded so fresh as well as elevated to early 20th century readership, or to critics, that Blaga instantly became the maker of modern poetic language, for Romanian literature. Romantic by nature, impetuous in the creative task tackled in an all-encompassing manner, the poet found the secret, as well as the sap of writing, first in Goethe, the European mentor, but from the time of his studies in Vienna he tempered his verse under the influence of German Expressionism. In the midst of all foreign source, Blaga will always bear the folkloric legacy from home, Eminescu's legacy, with a structural and formative role for the luciferic poet, to be born in the cradle of late East-European Modernism.

The Elan of the Island represents the act of creation from within the poetic Being, merging talent and labor, so as to bridle language, in its poetic unprepossessingness, its overfilling reality (cf. Doina? 1974), elements to be combined osmotically by the creator in the composition of the poem. How? As a matter of fact, it is not known how ... as if from the glazier's spirit the sultry paste art is formed and the poet composes a poem from a nascio quid of creation, associated to a sort of daemonism, previously introduced by the Romantic Goethe ... as he says, a mother is to conceive a beautiful child with all her soul and being, by some mysterious device, known to her only, that is to stay unknown.

We will start from the poet's idea of metaphor and modern poetic myth, a matter expanded upon in The Trilogy of Culture--an extensive treatise in which Blaga founds the philosophy of language and becomes the theoretician of Modernism, for Eastern Europe. The Blagian view, as original and unwonted as his poetry, unfortunately remained untranslated and hardly known to the Western World, because of Soviet occupation. We can now observe with higher freedom how in recent times we have experienced a brutal misfortune of history in the East, where the so-called liberating Russian troops were politically smothering, like hordes in more distant times, the creative impetus and longing for cultural modernity, for emancipation. After 1944, the right of signature was denied to Lucian Blaga. Even then, generous and constructive, like the genuine humanists of Europe, he withdrew to Sibiu, translating Goethe's Faust for the Romanians. His system of the philosophy of culture could have successfully preceded the aesthetic-philosophical theories on language, noteworthy being Heidegger, Gadamer, Ricoeur, Bakhtin, Lakoff.

Blaga, the poet of Transylvanian closed cultural space, was placed in the midst of the impersonality of modern poetry, which he does not attain through depersonalization, like T.S. Eliot or Valery, but through numerous identifications with the earthly nature of beings and things (physis). Following the orphic destiny from silence (whisper) to word and song, he instilled the modern myth both with a cosmic energy, inspired by Expressionism, and with the mystery of a Celtic type of deliberate obscurity, deriving from folkloric archetype (cf. Burdescu 1999). Consequently, the poet's words are reminders of the otherworldly melody, from the Transcendental, chosen so as to slowly unravel, enhancing the world's mystery. The poem SelfPortrait completes the profile of the poets who build through that which lasts (cf. Heidegger 2001): "Lucian Blaga is mute like a swan. / In his country / the creature's snow says everything. / His soul is always questing, / mutely, an age-old questing, forever so, / until it reaches the final boundary. / It quests for the water which the rainbow drinks. / It quests for the water / from which the rainbow / seeps its beauty and its unbeing." (Blaga 2001: 245)

As for the archetype of the swan (solar bird) and the song, with reference to Sanskrit etymology, the verbs to shine and to speak have been associated (cf. Todoran 1981). There is also a certain reticence towards the word which makes the poetic device so difficult, as the art of words is not the art of utterance, but of suggestion, of encryption. In the Romanian author's view, the poet is considered a deus in terries, a modern Orpheus in whose expression resides the force of the modern poetic myth, on the border between silence and words, charged with the secret of life and death, enhanced by the creator himself, the demiurge. Images, symbols and archetypal myths combine in the mind of the wizard apprentice in the hypostasis of poet, aiming at the symbol of the rainbow, transforming it into poetic myth. The mystery of light in the text reminds of the platonic transcendental, but also suggests an optical wonder, polychrome, revealed to immanence. Blaga, the modern aesthetician, in theory avoided the term symbol, preferring those of metaphor and myth, as in the poetic creation he was situated in the universe of the discretely revealed mystery, preserving the world's secret, systematically encrypted by poets. Therefore, the rainbow becomes stylistically over-marked with the mytho-poetic function instilled by the poet, transforming the light, the rainbow, into modern poetic myth. Now light simultaneously encompasses and radiates the mystery of creation, the magic of art, the poetic language, and arguably the signification for the reception of the work of art, closing the hermeneutical circle. It is worth emphasizing the serene communion of Blagian opposites. In The Trilogy of Culture, the author himself emphasized the importance of philosophy for poetry, not as a system in itself, but as a metaphysics of the work of art, that which can explain the revelation of the mystery, different from the limited ways of science. The myth is what the Transylvanian author was interested in, as it functions according to a logic transcending the common way of reason and can thus have multiple functions in society, such as cultural or religious roles, (cf. Eliade 1949)

Blagian metaphorics aligns to an archaic cognitive route, reactivated by the episteme of the 19th century (cf. Petrescu 1989). In science, research always separates the subject from the object, the latter becoming the material to be researched. During European Classicism or Romanticism, there were attempts to redress this disjunction through the significations of the reactivated orphic myth (The Blinding of Orpheus). In all post-medieval Europe art, and especially literature cancels sight and transforms it into vision (cf. Petrescu 1989), or as Blaga himself put it, art is conceived from the inner spirit of creation. The creative subject encompasses the objectual reality, but in the process of metaphor-making, the world is visually digested like in the etymology of the verb to see in Indian myths. For Lucian Blaga the modern myth in poetry corrects precisely the produced rupture, proving modern man's nostalgia for totality, for origins, in the same way as language encompasses this element called "metaphor," which acts for the formation of concepts, but not through the logic of generalization / abstraction, (cf. Gadamer 2004) It is in this direction of retrieving the metaphoric of the language that resides the originality of Blagian theory, where metaphor was situated by the Romanian aesthetician outside style (abysmal category, with a priori formatives --space and time, connected to form), so the metaphor addresses the substance of creation, which is metaphorical. The author classified metaphors (graphical, revelatory), in the line orienting man towards the concrete, as they are the thought mechanisms that define the human being in the universe of mystery and revelation, ontologically attributing a level and a specific way of existence. Cognitive sciences actually orbit around metaphor: philosophical hermeneutics, the structures of the imaginary, philosophical semantics (cf. Coseriu 1999). Let us take the Blagian metaphor from the poem of a musicality reminding of Eminescu: "The sun that is God's tear / falls into seas of slumber" (Sunset over the Sea), in which we refer to the sun as the sphere number 1 (term a), and to God's tear as sphere number 2 (term b). Thus, sphere number 2 constitutes itself a metaphor. In the relation between the two spheres, term b suspends the ordinary meaning of term a and it transforms it into a visible sign of X (an open mystery). Through a type of relation so-called (by Blaga the aesthetician) aecvational, we obtain as result a term of a new alphabet. He explained the existence of that functor X, to be found in term a, that is in language, leading to the equation (a + X) + b = a.

There is no predication, God's tear, as the construction is not a subject complement for to be. Therefore, the sun is constituted in the poetic discourse, in a sign of two sides: one revealed (the referentiality or the phenomenal), the other hidden (the mystery of the noumenal). In this case a revelatory metaphor, announcing that mystery is the point in question. Consequently, a new poetic world comes into being, in which the sun is now God's tear, which Blaga suspects to transgress onto another referential field, in the dimension of sense. Spheres 1 and 2 will eventually overlap and graft, to fulfill the metaphorical process in its entirety.

In other cultures, prominent writers have launched on their own cultural traditions towards modernity ... I refer to Shakespeare, Faulkner, Goethe or Dostoyevsky, with or without explicit aesthetics, schools of criticism or philosophical systems. In the case of Romanians, modernity developed from Eminescu (1850) to Blaga (1950), dynamically reemerging in the seventies and the eighties ... For the aesthetics of Lucian Blaga (The Metaphor and the Sense of Culture), any text is to be understood from the creation of sense, from within the poet's soul and not externally. It is revealed in orphic mysterious ways, different from the mystical lights of religion, and bridges over cultural archetypes and teleology. Lucian Blaga was a great thinker for whom the metaphor emerged in almost all cultural productions, metaphysics, science, yet it preserved its specific domain, myth (a revelatory metaphor, involt and stylistically structured), as well as the Blagian most spectacular domain, poetry.

It's only in the lakes with mud at the bottom that lilies grow

Around World War One, Romanian love Poetry had remarkable Romantic or Symbolist representatives: Eminescu, Macedonski. The love poetry of this period was associated with two major characteristics: the persistent baroquism of image and the sensuality of expression (cf. Doinas 1974: 180). The love theme in the Romanian poetry of the early twentieth century was thus intertwined with the theme of nature, under the influence of German Romanticism or French Symbolism. What does love express in Romanian modern poetry? A human feeling of divine origin meant to keep the vital burning in an everlasting human sense. Love stands at the basis of poetic creation, as suggested by the metaphor of fire. The demon of creation is perpetually connected to sexuality. Hardly fortuitously do pollen and cinders fill the chalices of love in Blaga's work (Bachelard 1992). Love is in itself an adventure of initiation for poets, a moment of divine revelation. The sacred does not make its presence felt in the sentimental intimate depths of its creature but through the acknowledgement of love as natural law, aligning to natural pattern. In the variety of human love: maternal, paternal, filial, erotic, man is the main character in an inter-subjective relationship of mutual exchange. The relationship I-that (God) found a remarkably unique expression in Vasile Voiculescu's poetry of mystical veneration. The inner tension, the irrepressible bursts express the consumption of a creative subjectivity that makes of love a royal path towards poetry, from the pre-Christian rituals of fertility, from the anthropogonic myth of germination to the modern poetic myth.

Romanian love poetry is far from the pastoral, its complexity originating in Eminescu's work. The sensual and the spiritual converge between love's complexity (life) and its finality (creation). The complex sentiment of love is still that feeling of longing, with its bittersweet charm. However, this theme conveys unity in the poetic patterns of the beginning of the century. The intersubjective relationship in love, reciprocity is at the crossroads, the reason for which the obsessive feeling of the poetic I, libidinally misidentified, is that of sorrow and bitterness. In Blaga's terms, longing has a much more complex meaning than that of craving for the beloved. One could see this term starting from the anthropogonic myth and its place in the construction of the poetic universe (cf. Todoran 1981). Longing is a concept, a dimension beyond horizons, which makes the human being hanker after the other land, crave for knowledge in a transcendental sense, projected out in the totalizing image of this world, at the courtyards of longing (cf. Todoran 1981). Starting from the folklore and the mythical geography of the village, Blaga called this feeling long-longing, as the sense of the road is the longing. For poets, the return to origins means the return to eternity, to the primordial memory through work, letting history flow, erase, thus themselves becoming eternal. Poetic inspiration in this sense has been associated to a descent into the inferno from where the poet brings the image of his world. The structures of the imaginary are reversed from diurnal to nocturnal, following a natural association in the symbolism of descent, (cf. Durand 1960)

In the vision of the trans-descent of opposites, love appears as a totalizing cosmic element in the modern poetic myth built by Blaga. Love was associated with the pre-Christian rituals of fertility (Eliade 1949). The woman was not the opposite of man, but rather the originator of a cosmic principle merging opposites, the mothergoddess of both the Cosmos and the Earth. Only women were allowed in orgiastic dances for soil fertility, as possessors of the great divine mystery, eventually beheld by the modern gods Dionysos and Zamolxe. In Blaga's poetry, it was only in this sense that longing and love intertwined as mystery of a communion with nature. Divine revelation was thus an expression of the human spirit, extended in the huge body of the cosmos through the earthly force of love. A revelation that turned the originary forms of existence into a trans-immanence on the divine, thus love acquiring a cosmogonic signification. It can be considered a mythical space, as well as a mythical time, external to the patterns of history, where Blaga projected his adventure of initiation. Returning to the time of love, an internal season emerges as specific to germination and harvest. Spring is a poem built on love's cognitive function, an intersubjective relationship I-you in which the poet understands the mystery of nature by knowing the body of his beloved. The rhythm of resurrected vegetation aligns to the consuming burning of love. Blaga delivered erotic feelings from sin, a matter unresolved by any religion, and he connected it to fertility in a pre-Christian heretic sense or to knowledge, divine enlightenment, in the sense of the modern poetic myth. The praise of Pan and Dionysos followed this direction, descending from Nietzsche's vitalism or from the energies of Expressionism: "Among flowers, in tall grass too, / sinless passions / rolling us into infinity / with murmurs and ardours / of reincarnated bees." (Blaga 2001: 402)

The summer solstice is a moment propitious for love, according to an orgiastic tradition. Summer creatures is the metaphor for glow worms. The preference for moonlight of all luciferic made Blaga endow the tiny creatures with a selenic glow. The light of Eros is, for poets, beyond visual luminosity, in Platonic tradition, a spiritual endeavor towards Being, light from light (Paleologu-Matta 1994: 83). Eros in poetry is precisely the path of identification with the libidinal object from which the poetic I returns to the poetic Self in Freudian sense. The poetic I, the Being or the poet's Consciousness passively creates this moment. In the absence of the divine, earthly love sublimates the fire produced between the sexes, generalizing it, either bursting or smoldering, fire is the symbol of burning or consumption in love. This fire unites the Orphic opposites, resolving any tension. Man is for Blaga, as well as for Eminescu, first of all an ens amant, understanding love in its primordial sense, prior to thought or self-consciousness. Moreover, in the sense of divine revelation, love cannot be achieved but in the artist's case. It belongs to a supernatural dimension: "Under the firs, under the old ones, / doesn't any goddess light up / at least thighs, at least breasts, / like the green glow-worms do?" (Blaga 2001: 548)

The time of love becomes the eternal present in which this feeling always brings the poet to the beginnings and strengthens creation. The poem Stanzas over the Years resumes Eminescu's orphic opposites. The feeling of love is so intense because it derives from a superabundance of being, which creates the void and the need of the couple. The absolutization of Eros in modern poetry occurs with the spiritualization of the beloved. She integrates into the poet's spirit, who no longer seems bound to his genial concerns: "When I sense your burning clay, / what else in Tanagra is there to choose / from the North to the South, / does one still need statues" (Blaga 2001: 416). The peculiarity resides not only in love fulfillment, as Freudian sexuality is a necessity, but rather in the intention to stay in a couple. In their self-sufficiency, lovers forget about the world, they create their own world outside the universe. For a moment, the poet, a visionary of essences, gets carried away by appearances in the metamorphosis of natural laws. Modern psychoanalysis attributes to the couple a preeminence, prior to unity, even preceding androgynous consciousness (Paleologu-Matta 1994: 76). Love both lowers the poet into materiality and raises him into the transcendental. The feeling covers a wide range of nuances, from physical to spiritual attraction, from desperate to hopeful love, for love's seasons constitute a human destiny, a human fate (cf. Todoran 1981)--The Quatrains of Love: "Love-keep it for us Gods, / let gossamers charm us / like the warp of flax / the threads of fate" (Blaga 2001: 458). The mytho-poetic value of the symbol gossamer suggests human frailty and ephemerality.

Love implies the absolute metamorphosis of the material into the spiritual and the divine, suggested through the Petrarchan image joining fire and frost: "I cannot know what happened through time, back then, / I know only what I see: under your step wherever you go / or stay, the ground once again, for a moment, / with its smiling dead, becomes diaphanous. / As in water without shingle, fabulous, cold, / one can see burning miracles--through clay that's violet" (Blaga 2001: 438). Who are the subjects of this kind of incomparable inter subjective relationship, based on the most beautiful human feeling in Blaga's poetry? In Romanian literature, folklore has left the legacy of a gentle blonde feminine image, though quite determined in thought and action. Rilke's angels have contributed to the new portrait of the modern European. He is an angel in his originary perfection, which has nothing in common with Christianity. Like Eminescu, Blaga must have contemplated the angelic portrait of Dante's medieval lady, Beatrice, who even in death still haunts the poet's thoughts, as well as Euridice. The merciless lady completes the angelic portrait of that who represents for the poet not only the woman, but life, unity, creation, work, the absolute, the mystery or his poetic Being itself. The medieval religious belief hardly explained the couple's necessity in love, but it viewed the woman in an angelic sense, for her maternal prerogatives. When women died, there was a belief that angels took their place. Goethe himself did not conform to this angelic version for the relationship in erotic love, preferring the demonic, creative in a superior, artistic sense. The Romantics lived in a frenzied immanence. Nietzsche lifted Dionysus above God, restoring, with utmost lucidity, love's estranged rights, as the most important sentiment for life and for creation. Jung placed at the basis of the feminine portrait the proper masculine archetype, anima. Therefore, the beloved embodied all of the poet's endeavours. Freud considered the woman a libidinal object for man, absolutely necessary in the maturation process, after the abandonment of maternal Eros. Although initially rejecting the theory of the collective unconscious 0ung) and psychoanalysis (Freud), Blaga was sufficiently influenced to be indebted to the force of the unconscious, the demon of creation. Under the aforementioned influences, the Romanian poet built a composite portrait of his beloved, in all the hypostases of femininity dominating his thoughts. Love poetry played an important part in his works from the first volume, characterized by Expressionist energies and existential rhythms. It overlapped the hyletic magma or the preverbal stage (Kristeva 1984), a period of quests, identifications, during which eros is central. The youth of the poet started on the hill, in the historical representation of history (sinusoid) of his philosophical work. It is precisely the moment in which the portrait of Blaga's princess emerged.

In the poem In the Field, the beloved one gathers the sheaves of the cloudless sky in her gaze. The distinct trans-signifying myth introduces a blue-eyed princess in a rural working environment. The rhythm of physical activities doubles that of desires. The portrait of the beloved reflects force and dynamism, as opposed to that of the lying poet. Masculine lethargy was seen as an object manipulation of man by the prevailing force, namely feminine sexuality (Doina? 1974: 181). In Freudian sense, sexuality exhausts man not as much physically, but rather mentally; a return to a pre-sexuality occurs, in memory of the maternal eros, as well as a preparation for creation. The beloved in this sense possesses complex qualities of mother and wife. In The Night Spring, her eyes are dark, like the romantic time for loving, night: "Lovely girl, / Your eyes are so dark that in the evening / when I lie with my head on your lap it seems / that your eyes, oh so deep, are a spring from which mysteriously--the night flows over valleys / and over mountains and over plains, / covering the earth / with a sea of darkness. / So dark are your eyes / my light." (Blaga 2001: 75)

Blaga's chromatic symbolism focuses on the nocturnal regime. The light springing from the eyes of the beloved is not only selenic, but an inner light, deriving from the first. The poet's Eros is primary only as a starting point. It refers to light from light or transcendental experience, divine presence in a brief revelation. Love is continuously an experience of life and death, one of the Eleusinian mysteries (Todoran 1981: 340). In psychoanalysis sexuality bears the shadows of the unconscious, but, in poetic terms, what matters is the courage to defeat death through this experience, raised at the level of knowledge and creation. In a Heideggerian sense, the human being becomes an existence opened towards death, as love is a human destiny, a fate. Blaga's myth of the eye darkness has got the complex qualities of an archetype in the ontological sense of image construction, as well as in the modern sense, as Orphic enlightenment. (Ricoeur 1997)

Us and the Earth introduces an Uranian Aphrodite. The poet is now in love, carrying vitalist energies. Love and demon are one and the same: "In the night, when so many / stars fall, your young body--/ so bewitching, burns in my arms / as in the flames of a stake" (Blaga 2001: 59). The burning of love reminds of the antiquity of the archetype, the god Mercury or of alchemic theories (Bachelard 1992): "At dawn, when the day kindles the night, / when the ashes of night are blown / by the wind westwards, / at break of day we could both become ash, / us--and the earth." (Blaga 2001: 59)

Although in Eminescu's creation, love was in a low key, carrying life and death's purposes of the absolute, Blaga created a feminine type fulfilling all the poet's endeavours; it was a real type, of folkloric descent, although still a mythical projection of the absolute. The Quatrains of the Beautiful Girl brings forward the variety of feminine hypostases in a Blagian sense. The girl who is beautiful through her very existence formally and essentially expresses the quality of femininity. Paradoxically the poet brings her back to the level of the existential through his praise. Her portrait is completed by the mythopoetic quality of dream, of stories, of shadows, the sky's sky, the smoke, the mirage, the golden language, the tear of heaven and the rainbow. The immateriality and the evanescence of these comparative terms are doubled by the material of their pairs: clay, spotless thing, the ring's stone, the dirt-clinging soles, the road. The erotic expression in Blaga commutes between two terms: one of the depth and of telluric materiality, the other of the immaterial sublimation of the former. Thus, the poet raises the primary Eros onto the level of divine presence, at the level of knowledge. Moreover, Blaga has the great vision of modern Dionysian idealization, and not of the classical, Platonic love, archetypal, ontological. The feeling of love encompasses apparently antinomic pairs: created-increate, fidelitybetrayal, materiality-essence (Doina? 1974:187). There is a spiritualization of the beloved, another characteristic of the modern period of poetry: "You, beautiful girl, will always be / to our realm a spun out / dream, and among legends / the one true memory (Blaga 2001: 453). The praise of femininity could not end but in an idealizing tone, in Eminescu's style. The beloved's countenance is so obsessive for the poet that it becomes her material projection on the poetic cosmos. The Universe itself is a sublimated extension, a suspension of this materiality. By extension, the beloved is the living embodiment of the remembrance, of the otherworldly longing. Love solves the tension between man and the silent divinity, which does not reveal in Blaga's work. (Todoran 1981: 333)

In love poetry, there are also accurate portraits of certain historical feminine subjectivities. Heroes, masks, voices at a micro-level constitute the possibility of the poetic Self to re-live biographies for initiation. The poem The Princesses embodies the Burgundian princess, Uta. Partially descending from the ballad, she dominates the fortress's life, hypnotically acting upon the collectivity. The famous characteristics of the Eros je ne sais quoi or l 'amour est fou may be related to the fascination exerted by the beloved upon superior beings. The lovers are in a hypnotic state, a trance, nearing madness. Disproportion now acts in opposite sense. A small gesture, a syllable are powerful signs for the one in love. The spell of love intensifies from a distance (Paleologu-Matta 1994: 68). Hardly ever leaving the fortress, the princess poisons the valley of the Rhin with her beauty. With her pursuing fate, she commits her love to marriage. The florist's culling has historically immortalized her. The eternal quality of love relationships brings for Blaga a real princess into the hypostasis of a wife. The Petrarchan images characterize once more love's pathos: When you pass through the grass / you set the dew / ablaze, ah, alas, you don't know--how alike you are. (Blaga 2001: 251)

In this poem, aligning to Blaga's general belief, history eludes Hegelian patterns through the instantaneous and simultaneous experience of the general repeatable in the particular. There is within this poem the valuable intuition for modern orphism. The entire cosmos is compressed in the new signifier, encompassing both the creative subject and the object (referentiality). Once named, the act of love is frozen within the limits of the uttered, thus condemned to death as act, to eternity as art. However, in an orgiastic dance, the poet silences the performance of the erotic act. The association word-grave as a metaphor of life and death in love aligns Blaga to modern semiology. Although The Princesses is inscribed in the volume of poetic maturation, The Unexpected Steps, love continues to arouse interest, with the flight towards the transcendental, towards the absolute. Eros accompanies the poet both along the serene summits of the hills and the desperate valleys of his existential pattern. Intertwined with the demonic quality of creation, love represents the vital fire, sacred for the creative act. (Kristeva 1984) The trans-ascending flight of Blaga's mature poetic period was followed by the transdescending one of the old age. Poets return to the human from the transcendental as a necessity. Love seems to be the only vital force to boost creative endeavours. The theme of love pervaded the volumes of the last stage of Blaga's creation. The representations of the beloved are now the consequence of a superior understanding of the Orphic sense through love. Epitaph for Euridice, another portrait of femininity, shows how the hyletic magma or the fire of youth has sublimated into a superior signification of the work of art (cf. Kristeva 1984): "One day somebody took you, Eurydice, --by the hand / to lead you down a long way under / through blackness that casts asunder. / Since then, in my darkness here / you have lived, like a star in a well. / When you are no longer anywhere / you are in me. You are here, in memory, / life's single boast / over death and mist." (Blaga 2001: 331)

Possession potentializes the tragic dimension of existence. Love consumes, but no mortal can elude its voluptuousness, in search of unity. This probably explains why all poets praise the eternal feminine reflected on the beloved's countenance. Eva embodies the eternal feminine in a magical hypostasis of Circe. The woman descended into the poet's soul as a tragic symbol. The cathartic force of love offers an earthly and not heavenly liberation, while it expresses the transcendental condition of Nature, mythically represented by the Great Goddess of Earth, or a totalizing tendency around the feminine principle. In the biblical myth, as structure of the poetic image, in Blaga's poetry the woman knows something no one else does: the mystery of the totalizing existence in the human being through the merging of divinity and nature. When the snake offered the apple to Eve, it whispered into her ear something that not even the Scriptures mention (Todoran 1981: 329): "Even God didn't hear what he whispered, / although he was trying hard to do so / And Eve didn't want to talk about it even to / Adam. / From then on, under her eyelids a woman hides a mystery / and flutters her eyelashes as if to say / she knows something / that we do not, / that no one else knows, / not even God" (Blaga 2001: 72). Thus man always chooses sin in a biblical sense, without being bound to the original predestination. The shadow of sin follows from the purplish traces under the woman's eyes. The snake, a complex teriomorphic symbol, is present in sexuality and creative demonism, from legends to the modern myth.

Love helps the poet find his own depths. However, it is contradictory, tearing him between materiality and spirituality. Love poetry for Blaga was not a mystical experience, a unifying tendency with the absolute, with God-the Creator, in momentary enlightenments of flesh as in the case of Vasile Voiculescu. His poetry constituted an adventure of initiation in the three periods of the poet, in which the feeling of love is complexly represented. If during youth, the poetic I resided, restricted to materiality, in silence, in the love relationship with an active Eve, cosmically projected, as epiphany of a poetic alter ego, during the maturation period lyrical poetry rather expressed the contradictory nature of love. The consuming opposites were situated in the intersubjective love relationship in philosophical pairs of poetic expression. They are to be found in the poem Will You Cry a Lot or Smile, bearing a strong metaphorical plasticity: "Don't you know that it's only in lakes with mud at the bottom that lilies grow?" (Blaga 2001: 85)

Sunset over the Sea develops and enhances the philosophical pairs in a remarkable synthesis of Eminescu's opposites. Blaga suggested the typically human suffering in this complex experience in the period of poetic maturation, which offers a low tone, in Eminescu's fashion: "No longer seen as the light folds in--/ the twilight leap of the dolphin. / The wave covers the name / that's written in sand and wake. / The sun that is God's tear / falls into seas of slumber. / Day breaks off, and all tidings. / The shadow enriches the stories. / The star touches you with eyelashes, / Many times you unfold all the signs. / Ah, for whom are the vast / times? For whom the masts? / Oh, adventure and waves! / Heart, close your eyes!" (Blaga 2001: 232) Women's superior ontology, in Blaga's sense, is likely to have been derived from the anthropogonic myth of fecundity (Pop 1981: 95). In the Feminine Being all opposites are united in a unique cosmic principle of life. An archetypal goddess, wife and mother, the feminine entity becomes vital for the poet, especially in the communication of existential fears following the transcendental adventure in the mature period A Letter: "I don't' know to this day why you sent me into the light / Just to walk among things / and be their judge telling them, / what is more honest or what is more beautiful? / My hand stops: it's not enough, / My voice is silenced: it's not enough. / Why did you send me into the light, Mother, / why did you send me? / My body falls at your feet / heavy as a dead bird." (Blaga 2001:139)

As there is abundant grief in love, in the classical type of love there is greater suffering than in the heroism of Stoics or the despair of hedonists (Paleologu-Matta 1994: 80). Blaga knew Eminescu's poetry, in which the feeling of love has a cathartic force, as it surpasses suffering towards enlightenment. For Kant both pain and pleasure were founded in the intellect, being equal in intensity to human living. Subsequent to Freud, Fevinas favoured the intensity of pain forming a void, or a pain-triggering transubstantiation. Eminescu himself suggested a double reading of the concept of luck or fate, due to the fact that the poet of tragic vision did not remain in the masochism of pain. However, he extended the symbolism of pain and projected it against external landscape, an extension of interiority, like Novalis and his burning blue lily. In Blagian love poetry there is the same transfer of burning symbols from the inside to the outside--The Song of Frost, Traces: "hike a silvery powder / iced dew lay / Frost had been created--/ It was the second day. / Silenced in the ash of dreams / in the corpse, stock still / the sap is locked in / as in a world of crystal. / Under the horizon where / we would rarely stop, / we left our seal--/ traces, with each step. / With the thread of Ariadne / we mark out the vastness / for when we have to leave / the white, the paradise. / The frost was destroyed--/ it was the ninth day. / The spirit of the world--too warm / un-iced the dew. / Slowly again the sweet thought / leads me towards the spot, / when the sun sups up / traces of frost." (Blaga 2001: 377)

The archetype of love, is said to put together under the fire regime the other alchemic compounds of this heraclitic element: salts, powders, pollen, smoke (Bachelard 1992). Their presence on the territory of love ramifies the burning outward, inflaming the environment, activating the poet's otherness to his inner rhythms. However, no element of external nature contains in its constitutive substance the burning more than the seed does (Todoran 1981). Blaga created the mytho-poetic function of the seed both from the archaic rituals for soil fertility and from the passion for Goethe's vegetal philosophy, with statements like: the fundamental propriety of the living unit: to divide, to reunite, to reach the universal, to stay within the particular ... to be born and to perish, to create and to self-destroy, birth and death, joy and pain, all advances intertwined in the same sense and the same measure (Eliade 1949:45). The mythical function of the symbol of the seed in Blaga's case is what Blaga's poetic myth achieves through the idea of the cosmic function of love, in the symbol of the seed, through which feminine virtues, fertility and birth acquire the function of principles in the act of love, through which the earth itself, like in the archaic myths, becomes a woman (Todoran 1981: 338)--The Air Stirred the Seeds: "Diaphanous seeds, winged, / on invisible threads, / were flying over us -- from one century to another--carried. / In this way, we are sometimes willed / by a young and sacred wonder. / It still has--nature still has substance / and in this unspoken waste / of imagination, from one moment to the next, / not everything can be a deceiver. / The air stirred the seeds / towards targets that only somewhere in fantasy / were foreseen" (Blaga 2001: 376). As love contains a divine drop, so will the seeds of the last period of creation bring quiet gods, asleep within seeds before germination. They are concealed silent gods, though beneficial to human creation in every sense. Through love's mystery, the poet reveals to himself a new mystery, over-potentializing the mystery in a specifically Blagian sense. The gods of the seeds symbolize both the participation in the cosmic life and the transcendental descending at the end of its flight from the period of the major questions.

The mystery of the road is the longing, said Blaga in his early love lyrical poetry. Love's mystery is life and death combined, seems to say the poet of the mature period. The symbols of cinders and pollen come in a distinct synthesis, grasping the Blagian existential pattern. This is suggested by the recurrent symbols of life and death in a characteristically involt metaphor. Beauty is a mediating term between cinders and pollen--Beautiful Hands: "I dream: / beautiful hands, when warm lips will blow my ashes to the wind, / holding them in your palms as in a chalice, / you will be like flowers, / from which the breeze scatters--pollen" (Blaga 2001: 61). Maybe this is the poem that best reflects a complex relationship based on love's intersubjectivity. The life-death dichotomy converging in love constitutes the major theme transmitted through a natural vocative of address: beautiful hands. Metonymically, the vocative anticipates the feminine portrait, or beauty as the eternal receptacle of life and death. The love relationship is marked by tactile indicatives, or through the germination of pollen from the beloved. The poet is a partner in this particular-general relationship, with his head full of thoughts--like a metonymic portrait. The Blagian dialectics life-death, particular-general, immanent-transcendent manifested early, in the poem The Oak. It is now resumed in the metaphor of life and death, on the alternation of pollen and cinders, obsessive symbols in love's chalices. The death receptacle is suggested by chalices of flowers or by the bodies of beautiful virgins. The feminine principle, life creator and death receptacle, is the poet's subjective figment. At a certain moment, he is poetry itself, his own creation, through which all creative energies are exhausted. As an object resulting from the poet's deep subjectivity, the work is also a Galatea combining the principles of life and death, in the same way that femininity harmoniously reconciles all opposites: a divine loss of self, the song can signify the creator's passing in the shadow of nonbeing--Where a Song Is: "A god sings, as sometimes happens, / his fingers not only touch the lute. / He unweaves his whole being in the wind. Turn / by turn spreading out under the blue orbit. / No longer having shape or shadow-form, / being only a breath and vanishing / as near as the scent of a flower, witched-wind / he moves across chords on a silver string, / Where there's a song, something also vanishes, / godlike, sweet vanishing of self. (Blaga 2001:338)

Through love poems, the poet, once more, founds the world, builds in a phallic or an orphic and cosmic manner, also bound to the dialectics of life and death, according to the reception theory as intuited by Lucian Blaga: "But the one who listens gains a living form, / when harmonies are gradually fulfilled / a temple, a menhir or a lily --they become." In the interpretation of love the author adequately combined the ascending and descending opposites due to an Apollonian-Dionysian understanding of this momentous human experience. Thus, he permanently delivered love from sin, solving the great problem of Christian morality through a heretic pre-Christian view, combined with the romantic demonism of sexuality and creation--The Light of Paradise: "But could I really harvest in my field / so much laughter without the heat of evil? / And could there bloom on your lips so much enchantment / if it hadn't been inflamed, / my Saint, / by the hidden delights of sin? / Like a heretic, I stay with this thought, then ask myself: / from where does Paradise gets its / light?--I know: It is lit by hell's own flames!" (Blaga 2001: 67)

Love, serene and luminous, marked the themes of old age, concerned more than ever with the humane and the existential superabundance in love, with the transcendent flight of knowledge. In the last period of creation (signification in Kristeva's tripartite view), the poetic I is libidinally identified and it returns in equilibrium to the poetic self or the passive being who created the work. The superego was formed through poetic devices. The external world is an otherness now known also from the intersubjective experience of love. The multiple poetic I expanded for love initiation carried the mask of an Adam whether passive, active, or reflexive, meditative on the eternal feminine or love, the greatest vital-creative force. In the polyphony of Blagian discourse, Adam's voices were doubled by those of Eve, completing his princess's portrait. In the poet's version, the relationship between him and her is constructive, beneficial for experience and creation. Those truly in love stay in paradise; this is the only explanation for the summit on which Blaga places the woman in his poetry. It is the serene hill of old age of the existential sinusoid -Portrait: "The colours stay to serve you, / Carmine and ash of chlorophyll. / I also have close at hand / the wheat, and the sky, full of fire, / and I recreate you on another level / on one you deserve and is proper. /1 have color for what is seen / and also for what is worn. / I take the colours from the water, / from sweet venom and from wind. / But alas for those other things / coming from your sacred planet /1 have no colours in the tongue of the world / and no oil paint on my palette" (Blaga 2001: 400). A strange portrait takes form, in which the body becomes metaphysical through a paradoxical alchemy of the concrete, of the material of Blagian mythical geography. Sappho built a metaphysics of the body through image idealization, constructed by Blaga in modern myth between the profound, telluric dimension and the superior dimension of ideality.

The theme of love illuminated Blaga's last period of creation, but in no hypostasis, however indicative of conflictive feelings, do Blagian symbols betray an unbalanced personality, through doubling, irresolvable splitting. The Petrarchan images of fire and frost suggest a final communion. Blaga uttered his song along with his beloved muse.


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Felicia Burdescu

University of Craiova

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Author:Burdescu, Felicia
Publication:Romanian Journal of Artistic Creativity
Article Type:Report
Date:Sep 22, 2014
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