AROUND THE ASTROPOEM OF A QUEEN
COSMIC ROMANIA 18
-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe;
design Florin-Alexandru Stancu;
astrophotographer guest Valentin Grigore-
A beautiful picture,
The Great Chariot and Polaris (the main star of the Little Chariot)
in the Fagaras Mountains,
taken by Valentin Grigore (President of SARM) in October 2013
during a national astronomical conference
made me remember a poem
written by Maria Tanase (1913-1963) short before her death.
Romanian original version:
“Cu racheta o să sui
În tăria cerului
Şi fac haltă de-ajustare
Doar la cele două Care
Eu mă urc în Carul Mic
Şi c-un fir de borangic
Trag cu mine la plimbare
Tot tarafu-n Carul Mare.”
And my approximate translation:
“With a rocket I will climb
To the height of the sky
And I’ll make an adjusting halt
Only in the two Chariots.
I’ll get on the Little Chariot,
And with a silken thread
I’ll take with me for a walk
(This is my dot!)
All my orchestra into
The Great Chariot.”
Maria Tanase was a fascinating and legendary character
in Romanian cultural history, being nicknamed
“the Magic Bird” and “the Queen of Romanian Folkloric Song”
for her exceptional repertoire and performances,
and “Mata Hari of Romania” because she was a spy
for the Romanian Secret Service during World War II.
She gloriously represented Romania
at the International Exhibition 1937 in Paris
and at New York’s World Fair 1939,
accompanied by the sensational folkloric orchestra
of Grigoras Dinicu (1890-1949,
illustrious composer - author of Hora Stacatto -, violinist and folklorist).
Her popularity was so big that, after she died,
over 1 million people participated at her funerals.
she became a laureate of Charles Cross Academy (France) in 1965
and was celebrated by the Google in 2013.
So that I decided, too, to commemorate Maria Tanase in my way,
thinking that the year 2013 brought two jubilees:
100 years since her birth and 50 years since her death.
For this I imagined a kind of cultural pilgrimage to the block of flats where,
in an apartment,
she lived her last years on Earth.
Then, in 31 October 2013
I stopped in a small square, near a round named after Pache Protopopescu
(the mayor who architecturally reformed Bucharest in the end of the 19th century),
which I considered a compass wind rose for my action
just because I had identified a few surroundings places
touched by cosmic inspiration.
Thus, to the north-east I saw the Mihai Viteazul (the Brave) College,
named after he who unified for the first time the three Romanian states,
Wallachia or the Romanian Land, Transylvania and Moldavia
This college was founded in 1865
and was moved in 1921 into the current seat,
a beautiful building made in the neo-Romanian style.
One of its directors was Ion Otescu (or Ottescu), who,
after a work of over 10 years (in which he was helped by
teachers, priests and peasants from Romanian villages),
published in 1907 “The Romanian Peasants’ Beliefs in Stars and Sky”,
an impressive guide of Romanian astromythology.
It is a honour for me to reproduce now a quotation from that book,
connected to the two celestial Chariots
and historical aspects of the Romanian people:
“Very important evidence for the Romano-Dacian origins of the Romanian star patterns
is found in the way the peasants explain the use of these Chariots.
They say that the Emperor Trajan put in the Great Chariot
the slaves from Dacia that he had conquered, to carry them to Rome,
and he set their chiefs in the Little Chariot.”
(from the English version of Ottescu’s book,
translated by Alastair McBeath - past Vice-President
of the International Meteor Organization - and Andrei Dorian Gheorghe,
and electronically published by SARM in its web site,
a link to this work being proudly included in the Romanian national node
of the web site of the International Year of Astronomy 2009).
After that, to the north-west, I remarked a few cosmic symbols
(sun crosses, plus Saint Peter and Saint Paul in stellar sceneries,
framing a grate seeming like a sunrise)
on a church near the Firemen Tower, named Oborul Vechi (the Old Market),
founded in the 18th century.
Back to the chosen rose wind,
I started to the south, on the Street of the Austru,
named after a warm south-European wind…
… until I met the Street of Time,
where I chose the direction opposite to the sunset…
Finally, on the next street,
I arrived in front of the block (or rather an amazing castle)
where Maria Tanase lived in her last years
and composed her… circumpolar poem.
Thinking of her representative songs,
I remembered that I used the tune of the most dramatic of them,
astronomically changing its lines
and performing it together with my fellow Gelu Claudiu Radu
during the Astropoetry Show I directed at the International Meteor Conference 2003
in Bollmannsruh (Germany).
That song had been collected in the 1930s by the favourite associate of Maria Tanase,
the Romanian-Jewish folklorist Harry Brauner.
For this inter-ethnic professional relationship very beneficial for Romanian culture,
the Romanian fascists destroyed Maria Tanase’s radio recordings in 1941.
In their turn, later,
the Romanian communists politically imprisoned Harry Brauner
(who was completely innocent!)
for 12 years,
but they didn’t touch Maria Tanase,
scared of her popularity.
Significant deeds of adepts of two totalitarian ideologies…
The first part of the folkloric text of that song, in fact a love curse,
was as follows,
in my translation:
“He who loves and leaves,
God should punish him,
The crawl of the snake,
The leap of the beetle,
The roar of the wind,
The powder of the earth.”
And here is my new astro-adaptation,
which I made in the honour of
Maria Tanase and Harry Brauner:
He who loves and leaves astronomy,
The Universe should punish him,
The suffering of the white dwarf,
The confusion of the aperiodic comet,
The littleness of the satellite without power,
The cloudy sky during a meteor shower.
And if you prefer even more…
Meteoritic dust in his nose
From a defective wind rose.
© 2013 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)