-text and photos by Andrei Dorian Gheorghe;
design: Florin Stancu-

The first who made me love the Danube River
was my favourite cousin,
who lived in the historical city of Braila.

He used to show me the old river
and to delight me with his stories
about swimming and fishing.

And I wondered how this legendary river,
long of almost 2700 km
and passing through 4 European Capitals
(Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade),
blessed so generous the shore of Braila, too,
which, thus, must be
the Capital of Oriental-European beauty.

There are two spectacular ways in Braila
to the Danube River.

The first of them starts from the centre of the city,
between old palaces and the remnants of a fortress.

And now let’s walk on the promenade,
where the old district is slowly replaced by a modern one,
because all that is human is transient
in comparison with the flow of the Danube River,
(which, from Braila,
gave the world even two Olympic champions in swimming:
Diana Mocanu in 2000 and Camelia Potec in 2004).

Maybe with the exception of a building,
made by the genial Romanian engineer Anghel Saligny in 1898,
which was, for that time,
the biggest mill on all the shores of the Danube River,
with a tower which was climbed by my favourite cousin
(eager to be closer to the sky)
in his years of youth.

The second way comes from the “boulevard of roses”
(initially named after King Carol I,
the main author Romania’s independence in 1877-1878;
then the communists named it after Karl Marx,
and now it is…
the Independence Boulevard!),
the favourite one of…
my favourite cousin.

we can walk on a fascinating river of flowers
which finally pours into the classical river.

Inspired by the passing of this river
through Vienna,
in 1866 Johan Strauss II
composed The Blue Danube,
with lyrics by Franz von Gerneth:

“So blue Danube,
so brilliant and blue
through valleys and fields
you flow so serene,
our Vienna salutes you…”

Inspired by the passing of this river through
the Habsburg Empire and Romania,
in 1880 Ion (Iosif in German, Jovan in Serbian) Ivanovici
composed Waves of the Danube,
with lyrics by Carol Scrob:

“The boat on waves easily jumps
My heart pulsates full of love
A sweet hope is in my chest
Come oh come, I’m waiting for you…”

Inspired by the passing of this river
through Braila,
maybe another musician will compose another waltz,
Danube and Roses.

And if he would call me to write the lyrics,
I would begin:

Among the roses
I was a witness:
The Danube River
Became a princess…

The amateurs of spectacular sports
would also be amazed at Braila
seeing sometimes,
on the shore of the Danube River,
branches of trees
playing volleyball with the Blue Moon.

A relative of mine, Iulian Ionescu,
recently invited me to go to a ship on the Danube River,
where we:
-admired the scenery;
-remembered a happy day in 1988,
when my favourite cousin walked us by boat
on this magic water
and watched us when we swam
secretely imagining we were world recordmen
in crossing the Danube River;
-photographed one another
during the appearance of the Borcea ship,
built in 1914.

We can also see,
beyond the Danube River,
the Macin Mountains,
which, having a dry atmosphere,
are the most favourable for observational astronomy in Romania.

But my favourite cousin didn’t think of astronomy
when he said:

“Because of this view,
for me
sometimes Braila seems to be
a mountain city!”

Watching the Macin Mountains (over 400 m height)
from Braila
and thinking that they are remnants
of the Hercynic Chain (over 4000 m height
a few hundred million years ago),
we can feel the same emotion
with that of an astronomer who watches by telescope
a white dwarf
and thinks it is a remnant
of a supernova…

… or the same emotion
with that of a man who watches a picture
with his departed favourite cousin,
the moral co-author of this story.


This photo-essay is the continuation of an astropoem,
6 years after I first published it in Meteor Contemporary Poetry 8
(in the electronic archive of the International Meteor Organization)
as a dedication to my favourite cousin,
soon after he left his mother
(and my mother’s sister)
to wait for sunbeams from him.

In the meantime,
after I became an orphan,
his mother
(Vasilica Tudor alias “Tanti Sila”)
became my “adoptive mother”,
and I re-made and re-arranged that astropoem
as an astro-photo-poem:

-by Andrei Dorian Gheorghe-

My favourite cousin
used to offer me wonderful vacations
taking me by boat
on the Danube River
among joyous fishes, various ships
and surprising waves.

"I have a fire in me,"
one day he said,
"let's write a story
as striking as this river."

we did not have time for it,
he died too young…

… but after,
I understood:
we had already composed a story
in which the Creator called my favourite cousin
to the heavens
as a Danubian counsellor…

…because he was
a striking fireball…

and the Danube River
was his train.

-Romanian Version-

ŞTEFAN “NELU” TUDOR (1951-2006)
-de Andrei Dorian Gheorghe-

Verişorul meu favorit
obişnuia să-mi ofere vacanţe minunate
luându-mă cu barca pe Dunăre
printre peşti voioşi, vapoare diverse
şi valuri surprinzătoare.

“Am un foc în mine,”
mi-a spus el într-o zi,
“hai să scriem o poveste
la fel de impresionantă
precum acest fluviu!”

Din nefericire,
nu am mai avut timp pentru aceasta,
el a murit prea tânăr,
dar pe urmă am înţeles:

noi deja compusesem o poveste
în care Creatorul îl chemase la ceruri
pe verişorul meu favorit
spre a-I deveni consilier danubian

pentru că era un bolid impresionant
iar Dunărea era trena sa.


© 2012 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)