An essay by Andrei Dorian Gheorghe and Alastair McBeath

(U.K., Vice-President of the International Meteor Organization)

first published as

Meteor Beliefs Project:

Meteoric Verse from Three Romanian Poets

in WGN

(the Journal of the International Meteor Organization),

33 : 4, 2005


Design: Gabriel Ivanescu





A selection of short verses relating to meteors from three

of the greatest Romanian poets,

Vasile Alecsandri, Mihai Eminescu and Lucian Blaga,

 is presented, additional to material on each given previously.




Although we have published meteorically-relevant material from

the three great Romanian poets

Vasile Alecsandri, Mihai Eminescu and Lucian Blaga before,

this is the first time they have featured under the Meteor Beliefs Project banner.

Here, we have given some additional short verses from each,

further to the material discussed earlier.

We shall briefly recap those earlier references before proceeding

to the fresh texts.


Works by Vasile Alecsandri (1819-1890),

laureate of the Latinity Prize for 1881 in France,

were discussed at the IMCs in 1997 (Gheorghe & McBeath, 1998),

1998 (Gheorghe, 1999) and 2000 (Gheorghe & Scurtu, 2001).


The Romanian national poet

Mihai Eminescu's (1850-1889) poem Luceafarul

we discussed in detail in (WGN) (McBeath & Gheorghe, 1999b),

while much of his other meteoric verse was covered by (Gheorghe, 1999).


Lucian Blaga (1895-1961) was a poet, philosopher and playwright,

probably the greatest personality in Romanian poetry

during the 20th century,

being shortlisted for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1956.

He loved the cosmos, and his meteor poem 'Celestial Touch' was featured

in (Gheorghe, 1999).


In presenting the texts here, we have employed a free translation

which does not preserve the rhyme or rhythm of the original,

in order to give as clear an impression as possible.

In doing so, we believe that this is the first time much of this material

has been translated from the Romanian into English.


1. Vasile Alecsandri


Parts of four meteoric poems are noted here,

composed by Alecsandri in his early years, all taken from (Alecsandri, 1970).

The first is from 'Doina', originally published in 1844.

A doina is a traditional Romanian sorrowful poem, with rhythm and rhyme,

and sometimes set to music.

Alecsandri described it as “the most living expression of the Romanian soul,

including feelings of pain and love”.

In essence, Alecsandri's poem 'Doina' is an appeal to fight

for Romanian independence from the Ottoman Empire.

The poet would like to have magic powers and strong allies,

as in the following verse:


If I would have about me seven brothers

Brave like me

And riding dragons!


Obviously, this is a suggestion of a supernatural flight,

but with celestially powerful overtones, since dragons are often

closely associated with, or are physically believed to be,

meteors in Romanian thought and folklore.


The second of Alecsandri's poems chosen this time was also

inspired by Romanian folklore, and is entitled 'Lacramioare',

literally 'Little Tears', though this is actually a common name for

the plant Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis).

The poem was first published in 1847 in the magazine Bucovina.

In Alecsandri's vision, the lacramioara/Lily of the Valley plant

symbolizes a terrestrial continuation of angels' tears shed in the heavens,

and it became intermediary between the images of meteors

and of his beloved woman.


There are no flowers in the world

With such sweet perfume, or sweet name

As you, small lacramioare!


You are tears of angels

Fallen from heaven on earth,

When their pure souls

Fly among the swinging stars

Weeping loving laments.


You are white and frail

Like the sweetheart of my life!


The tiny white, bell-shaped flowers of the low-growing Lily of the Valley

do look a little like both meteors and tears, when in bloom in May and June,

and they give off a wonderful fragrance too, as Alecsandri noted.

One of their common English names is 'Our Lady's Tears',

from the Christian Virgin Mary, which fits to this vision of angelic tears as well.

Another British tale involves Saint Leonard, often associated with

medieval leper hospitals, but unusually here said to have fought

a mighty dragon, a fire-drake, for three days in St Leonard's Forest, Sussex.

Although ultimately victorious, he was badly wounded in the encounter,

and it was said afterwards that where his blood had been shed,

there patches of Lily of the Valley grew (Dyer, 1994, p-14).

Simpson (2001, pp.-54-55) has additional details on this local legend

(including, on pp.-124-125, news that St Leonard

may not have been entirely successful, as a pamphlet published in 1614

described a 3m dragon, apparently sprouting wings,

that had been seen in the Forest).

As discussed in the Meteor Beliefs Project before - see WGN 31:6 (2003) -

dragons and fire-drakes have long been linked to meteors in British

and other European traditions.


The third Alecsandri item is from 'Steluta', 'Little Star', first published in 1853.

It is a poetic remembrance of his sweetheart Elena Negri,

who had died shortly before.

Alecsandri compared this tragedy with the passing of meteors:


Pleasures of love, charming pleasures!

Feelings! Great dreams of a wonderful future!

You disappeared suddenly just like the travelling stars

Which leave a deeper darkness after them.


Our final selection is from 'Bosphor',

composed by Alecsandri after a trip to Istanbul.

It was first published in 1853.

The straits of the Bosphorus, seen by the poet as the frontier between

the shores of proud Europe and Asia,

inspired him to describe the scene including meteors:


We could see above the moist field

Only sparks and lightnings of silver flame

Which, winding through the water, floated and rejected each other...

Or uncounted dolphins which, jumping from the sea

And moving their backs in luminous froth,

Sank one after the other in waves, following the stars.


2. Mihai Eminescu


In an earlier article elsewhere (McBeath & Gheorghe, 1999a),

we commented on some aspects of dragonlore in Eminescu's poem,

'The Girl in the Golden Garden'.

Of relevance here, we included the following translated quotation

regarding a zmeu, a, sometimes meteoric, dragon-man in Romanian tradition,

who became a fireball in order to meet a beautiful princess

he had fallen in love with:


Born from the sun, from the air, from the snow,

Because of this love he became a star

Falling from heaven to her great vestibule

And changed into a luminous young man.


Another meteoric section which was not included in our earlier article runs:


...The zmeu

Collects on his way

Pleasant smiles from a thousand stars

Flying like snow...


The end of this poem also seems to represent a meteor shower,

as the zmeu weeps:


...tears fell towards the sea, furrowing immensity

Like great beautiful pearls.


The whiteness implied by the 'pearls' simile seems to reflect back to

Alecsandri's Lily of the Valley meteoric tears too.


Moving on to other texts we have not examined before,

we found three poems from Eminescu in a compilation concerning visions

of the cosmos in Romanian poetry (Dima, 1982).

The first is 'The Story of the Magician Travelling Among the Stars',

where the hero of the tale passes among moving stars,

which seem rather like meteors:


The stars brightened reverently, moving aside for him to pass.


Next, we have 'Life's Star', in which our quote is derived from the tradition

that every human has a star in the sky, that falls when the person dies,

though here on a more suicidal note:


O, beloved star among the stars,

Sacred golden eye trembling among the clouds,

Be merciful and extinguish my days,

Come down, oh, come down.


The third quotation is from 'When the Sea',

which indicates a folkloric connection between meteors and meteorites,

that also includes the pearly lustre again:


On the bottom of the furious sea


A star changed into a stone shines like a pearl,

It is the lover of a pale star,


It is the lover fallen from the stars...


Our final piece is from (Eminescu, 1969),

in a poem with no name discovered only after Eminescu's death.

In this, a young girl calls on celestial bodies to witness that she is still a virgin:


Swear, sun,

Swear, travelling stars,

For I am a clean maiden.


'Travelling stars' might refer to the naked-eye planets,

after the Greek for 'wandering stars', but this term in Romanian often seems

to refer to meteors instead, as more clearly indicated in our third piece

from Vasile Alecsandri in Section-2 above.


3. Lucian Blaga


Lucian Blaga's 'Together with the Great Blind', first published in 1921

(Blaga, 1921), is the last poem discussed here as containing meteoric verse.

The poem describes a fabulous walk with the supreme prophet and god

of the ancient Dacians, the people who inhabited modern Romania's territory

before and during the days of the Roman Empire.

This figure, who may have been based on a living original, later deified,

was named Zamolxis (there are other variant spellings found in the literature),

who became blind towards the end of his terrestrial existence.

From this belief, the name 'the Great Blind' is derived.

It is rather a quiet trip: the Great Blind


keeps silent, because he is afraid of words.

He keeps silent, because every word of his becomes a deed.


Suddenly, a meteoric apparition enlivens the atmosphere:


Why was he startled?

Father Blind, there is nothing around us.

Only up there, a star has left the sky

With a golden tear.


Certainly, this is one of the most beautiful images of a meteor

in Romanian literature.




With all the references to tears in these quotations, and from the general tenor

of several of the poems more generally, there is a distinctive melancholy

which pervades much of the Romanian poetry we have examined over the years

in relation to meteors.

That does not detract from its power, or the beauty of its imagery,

but seems appropriate, considering the ephemeral nature of meteors,

so often used as a simile for the brevity of human life itself.




-Alecsandri V., Vasile Alecsandri - Poems, Eminescu Publishing House,

1970 (in Romanian)

-Blaga L., The Prophet's Steps, Bucharest, 1921 (in Romanian)

-Dima A., Cosmic Vision in Romanian Poetry, Junimea, 1982 (in Romanian)

-Dyer T. F. T., The Folk-Lore of Plants, Llanerch Publishers,

1994 (facsimile of the 1889 edition)

-Eminescu M, Eminescu - Poems, Publishing House for Literature,

Bucharest, 1969 (in Romanian)

-Gheorghe A. D., An Experiment for Popularizing Meteor Astronomy

Using Romanian Meteor Poetry. In: R. Arlt, A. Knofel (eds.),

Proceedings IMC 1998, Stara Lesna, Slovakia; IMO, Potsdam,

1999, pp. 110-113

-Gheorghe A. D., McBeath A., Romanian Meteor Mythology.

In: A. Knofel, A. McBeath (eds.), Proceedings IMC 1997,

Petnica, Yugoslavia; IMO, Potsdam, 1998, pp. 82-88

-Gheorghe A. D., Scurtu V., The Geminid Meteor Shower in

Romanian Traditions. In: R. Arlt, M. Triglav, C. Trayner (eds.),

Proceedings IMC 2000, Pucioasa, Romania; IMO, Potsdam, 2001, p. 43

-McBeath A., Gheorghe A. D., Romanian Dragons in Mihai Eminescu's

Poems, The Dragon Chronicle 16 (1999a, pp. 13-14)

-McBeath A., Gheorghe A. D., Luceafarul: A Romanian Meteor-Inspired

Poem, WGN 27:5 (1999b, pp. 255-258)

-Simpson J., British Dragons (Second edition), Wordsworth Editions

& The Folklore Society, 2001

© 2007 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)