TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr. April 2010

Sektion 6.7. The travel: knowledge, communication and / or power
Sektionsleiterin | Section Chair: Carmen Andras („Gheorghe Sincai Institute for Social Sciences and the Humanities, Târgu-Mureş, Romania)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Mihai Eminescu - Hyperion or The Road to the Center

Mioara Kozak ("Unirea" National College of Targu - Mures, Romania) [BIO]




The paper intends to approach the theme of the journey as it appears in the poems "Hyperion" and "The Story of the Traveling Magus to the Stars" by Mihai Eminescu - a journey towards the cosmic spaces, to "the ultimate limits", to the place "where time is vainly trying to be born from emptiness." It is an ethnocentric discourse (according to Todorov), a romantic journey, a journey towards "the beginning of the worlds" and towards "the beginning of all beginnings", expression of the will of unlimitedness.

In the poem "Hyperion" - interpreted also as a fairy-tale of the human being, "the pensive soul of the poem is so lively framed in the dramatic nature of the poem that the three stages: the ascent to God and the cosmic vision, the prayer, the setting free are as much three dramatic stages of the absolute of the passion that is looking for the human character's being set free in the divine plan" (1)

Hyperion, the one condemned to eternal existence, the one in love (in the person of Catalina) with the image of his non-existence, the one who is in vain aspiring to "the silence of oblivion", appears as an intermediary between the mankind's "clayey faces" that are scattered in time and the divinity's eternity that is devoid of face.


1. Space and time. Mythical places

In the atmosphere of the non-reality of the beginning, naming the absence of reference to time - "Once upon a time there was / (There was) as if it never had before"- the girl loved by Hyperion stands out from the ordinary human character through her noble descent ("Born of a very noble king"), through absolute beauty ("So fair, imagination faints") and also through the attributes of singleness she possesses ("An only child, her kinsfolk boon, / So fair, imagination faints; / As though amidst the stars the moon, / Or Mary amidst the saints."). The human, in the vicinity of the sky, is trying to surpass his own limits, a tendency that is not accomplished eventually: the ordinary man remains the prisoner of his own destiny, of his own limits.

The story of the Emperor's Son who has no star takes place too in an illo tempore "In times of yore.../ When tales the truth told, / And guard against dreams and superstitions the thought was", in a time placed under the fate of mythical thinking: "It is the happy time when the human being is a component of the harmonious nature, when the human architecture extends, in grandiose plans, to a nature that is itself architectural, like in the old emperor's palace from where the young prince, the heir, sets off to the road of "getting wisdom" (2): "In the hall with smooth and of pale marble walls, / With golden pillars and great carpets on the floor, / With rising haughty arches, / With stars and reddish flowers right on the bluish vault, / With trees that turn a winter into a gentle spring / And shadows cast on the hall's wide floor, / There was the Emperor sitting."

Both Hyperion and the Emperor's Son will set out on a journey; the former - original form, destined to eternity - flies to the Demiurge and asks from this one his framing in the series of the phenomenal world, his passing away in the eternal repose. Hyperion wishes to escape from the divine law, he feels the call of the human condition: "Take back this halo from my head, / Take back my starry lower, / And give tome, o God, instead / Of human love one hour." The Emperor's Son, prince and heir of earthly empires, submits to his father's decision (3) of going to gain wisdom and fulfill his destiny to the sacred Mount Pionul, "above the world, above the clouds" where the immortal magus, connoisseur and keeper of the divine laws that govern the cosmic harmony, lives. The magus' presence and will prevent the worlds from falling into decay: "But never from up there descends he, / To lose sight of the world's ways never admits he, / For fear that the measure he uses the world to measure with / Be changed while he is gone ...and he, when coming back, / Be forced to start again, / and, thus, unable be he to stop the thinking of the bad."

2. The Nature of Entity

Hyperion - son of the sky and of the sea ("My father is the vaulted dome, / My mother is the ocean."), of the sun and of the night ("My father wears Apollo's crown, / My mother is the night") - a urano-neptunian identity - "beautiful you are, good Sire, / As but an angel prince could be", "beautiful you are, good Sire, / As but a demon prince could be" (angelical versus demoniacal), bright star, nature tormented with the postulating of a form that is not within his province - retains the pallor and the sadness of a "beautiful dead with eyes alive", "I live while you are dead; / Your eyes gleam with an icy glow / Which fills my soul with dread", "A prince indeed of royal stock, / With heavy hanging golden hair; / A purple winding – sheet his smock, / Hung round his shoulders bare". Hyperion – (hyper aeon) – "the one that walks above", the one that is "above the aeons", detached from the Greek mythology, entity that has his "own predestined place" in the order of the world, appears differently each time – antinomic determinations that betray his super-categorial nature.

Marked with the signs of genius and death (his contemplativeness and pallor), the Emperor's Son - prince and heir, is of a funeral beauty, typical of Eminescu: "With black and curly locks, so great and shining! / With haggard face, what painfully pale!". He belongs to the rare category of those that do not have a pre-established destiny, of those who are free like God. "In the divine project of the worlds' existence in which the angels temporarily leave their stars (their astral countries) in order to check a human existence whose moral prevalent feature grants them their existence in eternity or, on the contrary, condemns them to fall into chaos, the birth of the genius like being - the being without a star - is, from the very beginning, an absurdity, an "error". The cosmic country is the original star of the angels that decay, through love, to human bodies, discovering thus a limited world. (4) Lacking his star, the prince - the genius does not have a native country but only in his own thinking. Nevertheless the angel Sleep can initiate him in the land of the astral countries: "But in this immense sky that thousands worlds reflects, / Deprived of angel and of star you are / When God the world's great book is reading / Entangled at your age, gets he, not wishing it. (...) Arrived on earth the wine of oblivion is drunk by geniuses; / retain yourself from drinking it and the worlds' mysteries revealed to you will be". The genius that has no star descends directly from the demiurgical power of the divinity, with which he discovers himself to be consubstantial through thinking "'Cause in this world God who is their only father / Endows them with His rich thinking." Thus, the star as a cosmic country is not necessary anymore: "'Cause deep behind the coffin you haven't got an empire, / And that's why you should nothing regret; / The space of the soul is the soul itself...(...) 'Cause in the outside world you will inherit nothing, / But God has placed in you no boundaries to your thinking. (...) This boundless thinking that's deep inside of you / It's a world within the world and lasts forever, too. / (...) The very same way God holds / Worlds, stars, time, space and the atom - that's unseen, / The very same way all is He and He is in all, / You will be great like your wide thought."

Lacking the native country of a star, devoid of subordination in the angelical hierarchy, the one that has no star is threatened by a sole danger: the love that "the pale, with long and black wings" angel of Death, the one that "extinguishes whole systems", bears for him. The death of the ones that have no stars cannot be but the death of the thought that has no power anymore to be creator of meaning, that loses, thus, the demiurgical virtue.


3. The "lyric - sophist" journey. The sidereal journey

"The philosophic traveler" (5)is an ideal category or an ideal type: the philosopher, here the philosophic poet Mihai Eminescu is a universalist through destination. The poet is not an ethnocentric one. The purpose of his poems lies in verifying the variety, the infinite differentiation of values, of cultures and the attempt to counsel things in a universal vision, a totaling one.

"The orbit, spatial journey that knows no territories, right in its relation to the planet that offers a very intense sensation through flying: its own destination. It is the universe of launching into the orbit, where, at the end, you lose the very idea of coming back to the earth.(6) We are talking about the dimension of relativity in relation to things.

The Emperor's Son sets off his journey to the sacred peaks of Mount Pion at dusk, "when night gently lights up the moon, / when the bell tolls in the night's sweet mood", and he has to overcome the ritual obstacle of an apocalyptical storm in order to conquer the sacred center of the world; he has, thus, to surpass the world contaminated by chaos in order to discover the ultimate level of the principles of the cosmic order. The landscape has all the characteristics of the romantic wilderness: "the gigantism of the rocks, lightning and awful flight of eagles, geology in ruin, the music of the storm, sonorous disintegration, brass harps, apocalyptical thunders that shatter the haughtiness of the fir- trees, the sky's star signs that get into confusion"(7): "Giants with granite - rocked feet, / with struck foreheads clouds split (...) / Oak trees fallen into awful rivers (...) / Forests of beech trees slowly shivering. / (...) Winds pass and shatter the forest of fir trees, / And big rocks overturn from the bear peak, / Throw large pieces of trees and of grass, / That crumble and fall into the rivers' roar./ (...) Stars fall through the clouds and die in the abyss. / And hailstones / Hit iron - ribbed rocks / And golden star signs get entangled in the sky." Here the old magus lives watching the storm, the skies and "disentangling" the star signs "in their long way".

The Morning Star – star that has become now Hyperion, in his desire to defeat and subjugate the sky, is flying in a cosmogonic landscape - reflection of the inside - where "the time is vainly trying to be born from emptiness", where "there is no boundary", and where the absence of the space generates the absence of the subject, too, in which the world as an object would reflect: "no eye in order to know." The expert organ - the eye that knows - is dying out and the blind waters of nothingness cover everything. It is a metaphysical depth. "Hyperion set out and o'er / The sky his wings extended, / And million years flew past before / As many moments ended." The ambivalence and the temporal compression ("thousands of years were passing in "moments"), the enthusiasm, the power, the vastness, the rapid time that conquers the space acquire now the mystery of the "remoteness". It is a regressive journey on the time's trajectory, during which Hyperion lives the history of the creation backwards.

Vision of traversing the infinite spaces - "A sky of stars above his way, / A sky of stars below; / As lightning flash midst them astray / In one continuous flow." - the interstellar flight has the speed of the lightening, and, thus, it seems to have an absolute horizon. Hyperion is flying, "a thought driven by longing", seeing "how lights sprang / like in the very first day" - it is the reverse flight to the origins, to the point zero of the creation that leaves the chaos behind: "till all, everything disappears." "The thought" is of the Creator's, and the "longing" - Hyperion's humanization - is of the Created. After he has surpassed the chaos, the ineffable is completely detached itself from any vision: "Yet where he reach's is not the bourn / Nor yet where eye can see; / Beyond where struggling time was torn / Out of eternity." - incapability of the human eye to perceive the unseen. The condition of the human cognition is removed; the vague intuition of the divinity's essence appears: "Around him there was naught. And still, / Strange yearning there was yet, / A yearning that all space did fill, / As when the blind forget." - it is the thirst to be, substratum of any being versus the state of being. It is the thirst of the blind oblivion, found in the primordial emptiness, which has no centre and no time, primordial abyss that precedes the genesis of the worlds. The silence of the cosmic spaces crossed by Hyperion in his flight - spaces in which the worlds have lost "the Pythagorean music of the spheres" (8) and have sunk into a frozen silence - is the silence of "the unknown depth". The place where the Demiurge lives is the infinite, the nothingness governed by the terror of its own emptiness that is as deep as the dream of oblivion.

Hyperion - the titan - crosses like a flash of lightening the worlds of stars, surpassing the creation and, thus, defining his nature: he is above space and time, above death, heading to an identification with the divine will. In his flight the worlds come to life and disappear in an eternal repetition of historical series, in an eternal passing of the material through the eternal forms, forms that are found not in the divine thinking but in Hyper- aeon's eternal "being", "eye" that sets up the boundaries of the world.

3.2. The meeting with the Demiurge. An inter- worlds place

"The alchemy of the philosophical doubt" makes Hyperion to aspire to repose; deciding to belong to the earth, he is rejected by this one. The conflict between the divine and the human, between the sky and the earth installs in the Hyperion - like being. The ascent to the Demiurge is made in two ways: through the rapid flight in the chaos, and then through the arrival in front of the impenetrable. The evocation of Hyperion's approaching God, his meeting with divinity is the meeting between two immortal entities. Destined to eternity that tires him, he asks from his Father "to untie" him from the black immortality: "Free me, Father, from the burden of the black eternity."

The Emperor's Son from "The Story of the Traveling Magus to the Stars" - naming "the consubstantiality of the human and divine thinking"(9), being from among those who "have no star", a geniuslike structure, free from any determination in any of the orders of the universe, addresses himself to the magus: "Father - says he - a deep bow taking, / To you was I by my father sent. / Have you? - the old man responds and then sighs, / His old face being crossed by a smile, / And shuts the old book then with one hand.": "Wait, child, let me find a charm / In the book". The appellative "father" names just this consubstantiality: Hyperion and the Emperor's Son (the prince - genius) are solitary beings that descend from the same heavenly father - Father. "The Demiurge recognizes in the doomed recluses his own grief (If Demiurge is crying, it's only him that hears) and, out of solidarity with their sorrows, endows them with the rich visionary thinking (they haven't drunk the wine of oblivion, they haven't forgotten the suffering from the centre of the world, the Demiurge's loneliness, the genuine crying of the chaos, the sleep sunk into its own crying) and, thus, the worlds' mysteries will remain forever open to them. (10)

Hyperion is looking for the mystery of "becoming a mortal" placed in the eternal passing of the existent that can discover the state of charm, "the hour of love". But he is refused both the divine peace of oblivion, he is refused "another fate", and the human charm of death as well because, in the universe in which the divine has taken refuge in non-existence, the thinking is destined to bear the burden of "maintaining the worlds alive." The thirst for repose, the restful gift of the oblivion cannot be given to Hyperion because this one has a pure existence that is identical to itself. Hyperion's absolute value as a being (not determined categorically) is identified with the immutable form in Eminescu's poem; that is why it is eternal (because it is forever identical to itself); it is revealed through thinking and, consequently, is identical to Hyperion in the poem "Hyperion"; it opposes life whose essence is the passing and not the stability and the form. The being would correspond to "the constant relations" and life - to "the eternal movement".

The pair of terms being - life would become the relation being - existent, translating, thus, faithfully the ontological relation which becomes an epic relation in the poem "Hyperion" between Hyperion (lasting through thinking in being) and the earthling girl, the one that is " the only child, her kinsfolk boon" but who is destined, like any other existent, to become a term of a series, to become for a start Catalina (a component element of the couple Catalin - Catalina) and, then, an anonymous and fortuitous "face of clay". The first scene that opens the poem and the last one that ends it are antithetical: the former creates not only the aesthetic space of a fairy - tale but also an exceptional status for the meeting of the two characters in the dream, an exceptional status for communication - through exorcism and sleep - between two cosmic and ontological non - communicant levels: "Once upon a time there was, there was as never any time before... "She was the only child, her kinsfolk's boon" etc. But in the latter Catalina, returned to her destiny of being a face of clay (of the material that is in eternal passing), does not appear in the loneliness of the room anymore, in front of the sea's huge loneliness; from now on she has a new place/ setting, under "the long row of haughty lime trees". The transience and its limit are overwhelmed by the eternity and its infinity".(11)The singleness remains Hyperion's attribute.

Hyperion remains condemned to immortality because his being is identified with thinking which is condemned to bear the burden of the universal existence, replacing the absent god that has taken refuge in non-existence. The aspiration of becoming a human being ("Take back this halo from my head, /Take back my starry lower, / And give to me, o God, instead / Of human love one hour.") is not granted by the Demiurge.

When Hyperion asks the Demiurge to let him die, a paradox is expressed, as he asks for life as price in exchange for the eternity of death.(12) "You wish to be of man a son, / To be a star you scorn; / But men quick perish every one, / And men each day are born./ They only build, gone with the wind, / empty ideals/ When waves just perish in a tomb / Behind rise many others, / They only have some lucky stars/ and the fate's persecutions." The human destinies are governed by "lucky stars" ("Hyperion"); in "The Story of the Magus to the Stars", the human being's destiny is connected with the fate of the star that was lit at that human being's birth by the soul - angel. In this order of the universe - decipherable astrologically - mistakes happen sometimes, and thus, those that "have no stars", "the occult minds", that is the genius-like structures are born. Those that "have no stars" are "the chosen ones."

Hyperion aspires to the repose of the nothingness, to the state of not existing anymore, thinking that, once he has become a man he will fall under the power of death and, thus, of escape. But the death is not a liberation, "As each thing lives because it dies, / And dies because it lives." "There are two kinds of eternities with Eminescu: a painless, indifferent and cold one - this is of God's; the other one is of the human being's- pathetical, devoted to suffering, submitted to death or, better, submitted to the indefinite and permanently renewed deaths owed to everything the human being experiences. The relation between the creative eternity and the created one is absurd. There is a solution: the permanent death, the nothingness. But the nothingness cannot be given by the creative eternity. It would deny itself if doing so. This is the drama of the existence (of the human being).(13)

The Demiurge makes Hyperion aware of their eternity and ubiquity, of metaphysical essence: "We have no time, we have no space, / we never know what death is". Hyperion's prayer - turmoil of the being- is the desire of existing in the human plan. The Demiurge's speech is profound knowledge - gnomic lyricism, desire to awaken the conscience of the one who wants to consider himself a man. But the man "builds empty ideals gone with the wind" - a lack of permanence of the worlds' values. The human time, icon of transience, is limited as well: "Out of eternal yesterday / Into tomorrow's grave", an inexorable necessity of the nature. Hyperion - eternal essentiality remains, placed in an eternal present: "But you, Hyperion, never wane, / Night's miracle sublime, /But in the sky your place retain, / The wonder of all time."

The genius is seen in its immortal condition: abandonment of contingent, placement above time and space, not for contemplation but for creation. The Kantian cosmogony states the continuous genesis that is opposed to the Platonic stable universe. The line "But you, Hyperion, never wane" is decisive, Hyperion understanding that he is condemned to bear his eternity and to sustain forever the burden of the worlds that revive from death, as a unique reference point of identity. It is the genius' drama - an isolated one in his superiority, a defeated one in his adventures - and the solution he reaches - the isolation in the height - is characteristic to the genius in Schopenhauer's conception. Hyperion cannot abandon himself to death, because he remains a pure embodiment of thinking, identical to himself and creator of worlds: "Hyperion, a whole world appears with you when you spring up from the chasms..."

In the cosmic emptiness - to which the immortal Hyperion gives the shape of the world -he discovers himself to be the prisoner of his eternal monologue, as communication, like love, is the beginning of death, is the presence in us of the one we are not, is the presence of the one who is stranger to us, it is our own non-being. That is why the communication - through the timeless space of the exorcism and of the dream - between the earthling girl and the immortal star is illusory, the very same way any communication between different levels of cosmic existence or between opposite ways of existence is illusory. Secluded by the conscience of identity, the thinking remains to contemplate, detached, the happy confusion from the series of the human existences scattered in time, series that make possible communication (Catalin - Catalina) and love.

The Morning Star takes back "his destined place in the sky" in the order of the world, the icy space of absolute loneliness, as a sign of balance: people and skies cannot meet! He understands. And understanding means sharing. People live their lives in an authentic, real way but they are deprived of a clear conscience of their destiny, while the genius has this conscience, but does not truly live: the aspiration of the people is to achieve their personalities in the plan of the Idea while the genius aspires to pass from Idea to Life. Unlike the ordinary man who remains the prisoner of his own destiny, of his limits, the state of the genius, that is of the man who has been driven by the time in an interior world, can assume two hypostases, says Hegel; to be either a perpetual death, if he wants to maintain himself inside of it, or, if nature pushes him towards life, he will be able to transcend this condition, surpassing "the negativism of this world" in order to live and be happy.

The last attribute - the fact of being - offers the Hyper-aeon identity with his own self and the conscience of this identity, emphasized through the divine Logos, affirmed at each embodiment of the star: "I am the Morning Star from the above..."

3.3. The initiating journey. The conciliation of the worlds or
       about the meeting between the disciple and the master

The Emperor's Son who has no star travels through an initiating route till he reaches a land of mythical old age where only a magus whose age is timeless and who lives lonely (is integrated) in the gigantism of the mountain, in the shadow and night of the forest, can teach him. A true aeon thinker, lost in "the old age" that has no beginning and no end. The road to the sacred peaks of Mount Pion that dominates the world is also a road to the profound truths hidden in our own beings. The Emperor's Son travels the initiating route passing "fearlessly" through "clouds that are shattering, fighting and breaking", and overcoming obstacles in his attempt to reach the powerful magus: "Nothing can ever stop him: / He walks with firm feet on water, / He heads for the small and serene aim".

His meeting with the magus is under the auspices of magic and sleep. The magic and the sleep are, in this poem - plutonian - invocations of the death, the poem being traversed by a general tonality of a requiem, everything being wrapped in a sad gentleness which is exactly the longing for death. Here death does not cover an existential or religious sense, but one that is purely poetical - magical; the essential metaphorical moment, at which the poetical - magical perspective aims, is the moment of the contact between the spirit and the body, between the angel and the material. So that the sleep and the death, their sensorial acuity, aims at this moment of contact or of rupture - the touch between the spirit and the body. The existential moment - the one in which death as a sensation of coldness, of pale light reverts to the spirit, reverts to the angel.

The Emperor's Son finds out - by going down in the depths of the soul and, from here, in the depths of the sleep- that he belongs to the rare category of those who "have no star", of those who are deprived of a pre - established destiny, of those who are free like God: "There is one star full of peace in all the universe, - (...) One man, living on it, unhappy he considers/ But the unhappiness resides in him, not in the star (...) / Down to my star to comfort him I'm heading now. / From atop a mountain into the moon, the space he throws himself, And in a moment reaches the clouds of his native star, / (...) The veil of clouds he tears in long, long threads."

We are in the plutonian zone, in the visionary environment, where the images open a new road to the core of the mystery. In this angelic outer space, woven from the threads of irradiation that connect stars and people, a heartrending feeling of loneliness bursts out: "But in this immense sky that thousands worlds reflects, / Angel and star you have not got". Here the genius does not appear anymore as "a pure connoisseur subject, a clear mirror of the world", but, cancelling the real, he creates another world into which he inculcates the laws of his spirit. He prefers the dream to the real.(14) Withdrawn in the sweetness of the dreaminess, the magus feels himself being caressed by the touch of an angel's wing: "He feels an angel's wing caressing him/ and in a tremble touching his even forehead- / And wants to put his arms around the angel's neck / With him to fly towards the starry and wide land."

The thinking and the voice are of seraphic origin within a man; the wings of the spirit spread from the body of clay and, thus, the "sweet" voice is challenged, the logos is transmitted; the powers of the divinity are the same in a man as well as in an angel: "A man is born - an angel, in the sky, a star lights up/ and down on the Earth his body of clay goes, / and wings of thinking gives he to the man/ and also sweet voice - in the man's mute body.../ When the man dies, his soul wide spreads its wings / and on its way to the skies the star extinguish too." By the angel's descent into a man, the man's natural body contains a complete spiritual body that gives to it the voice of reason. The man and the star complete a sacred, cosmic relation: "But what is that star? Is it a burning candlelight / going on its road driven by the sky's big waves?...And if it is a mighty world, / Is then a world's life depending on mine?" The one that "has no star" - lonely shadow, subject to suffering - is placed in the imminence of the Angel of Death's passion: "But - there's a pale, with long and black wings angel / Always in love with these great natures. / Its song, if you listen to, your genius is broken." By murmuring entrancingly "its sublime song", the Angel of Death "extinguishes whole systems" and destroys the genius of those who let themselves be overcome with the seduction of its song, threatening the universe of thinking - otherwise eternal - with the ruin. The death of those who 'have no star" cannot be but the death of their thought which does no longer have the power of creating meaning, which therefore loses the demiurgic virtue. The divine thinking is the condition for the worlds' existence, but also the measure of the individuals' lives.

The seraph's "cold" voice "places meaning" in the magus' thinking that is full of sadness, offering him as consolation the prospect of thinking to boundless spaces: "'Cause in the world outside you have no legacy, / God has placed in you boundless thinking. (...) This boundless thinking that's in you / it is a world within a world and lasts until the edge of doom."

The visionarism of the great damned nature lies in understanding the ideatic meanings, the cosmic reason that is related to the consubstantiality with the demiurgic thinking. Beyond the wastes of the dust, the thinking remains in the great magic areas the very same way in which God holds the universe: "When thinking overwhelms your earthly life, / When your body falls, too early wasted, / Alone you will go down in your spiritual life / And in its boundless stellary space you will last; The very same way God overwhelms with His heavenly life / Worlds, stars, time and space and the unseen atom, / The very same way all is He and He in all / You will be great like your boundless thought." Life is a permanent fall into the nothingness of the sleep - death, and therefore, a running of the dream in the world - a floating island on the saint seas of the death and of the dream.

4. The romantic dream, the sleep – places of an impressionist journey(15)

"A man asleep keeps in a circle around him the thread of hours, the order of the years and of the worlds."(16) The sleep - delirious idealism, prolific - demiurgic thinking that gives life to solar worlds, song without harp, murmur without waters: "If more you want to know about this haughty life / Think then of dreams and sleep, / 'Cause dead is the cold and unconscious body at night, / and master of the rich creations is the soul; / Although these solar worlds are not real / It yet sees and senses, hears and has them. / When man has passed away, a breathless lump of clay, / The soul, outside, remains both deaf and blind: / A song without a harp, a ray without the sun, / a murmur without waters, it's soul without a body, / But there's a whole wide world inside him, / A real one for him. The same as the drops that absorb / all the world's rays into one amazed grain, / All is inside him, and he is inside everything that he has thought."

The delirious adventures reach the center of our being more directly.(17) "We live and feel with equal ease both in dreams and in the state of wakefulness, and we are the same in both states. The man has the privilege of dreaming and he knows that he can dream, but so far we have not taken advantage of this privilege as we should have. The dream is a life which, added to the rest of our existence, becomes what we call human life. Dreams are disappearing little by little in the state of wakefulness; it is hard to say when a man starts waking up. (...) The dream ensures us the moral basis in a better way than all the knowledge that reaches our heart by following a devious route."(18) In dream we discover our double self: the one that is dreaming and the spirit that is contemplating the dream.

The young voivode, the genius that has no star, submitted both to damnation and to being raised up to the plans of divine thinking, is taken by the magus in rooms with black marble that glistens where he is shown - reflected- the Angel of Sleep itself whose presence has been invoked by the magus. After the prince has drunk from the cup, the magic of the sleep takes the shape of a fantastic eroticism, and, seized by voluptuousness, he falls in love with the Angel that answers to his love: "He opens his eyes and sees above him /Two big blue eyes deeply dreamy, / His own happiness he can hardly believe / He presses his lips on the long blonde hair/ and caresses the pale face with longing." The two are floating through the skies of the universe and the Emperor's Son partakes of the sight of the stellary distances: "You see, says the shadow, on the abyss of the valley: / The Earth with its faintly smoking mountains / with the sadly murmuring asleep seas ..." The vision, whose music expresses the great sadness not only of the separation but also of the geology, of the cosmic outer space as materiality, reveals the myth of the stars - angels: "A huge and wide empire a star is / with hundreds of countries and thousands of beings. / Spread in the sun the big fortresses are, / pensively erected the silver palaces / And kings are silver- winged angels."

Meanwhile the magus, astride a comet, astride "the star that flies as swiftly as the thought" also sets off a journey to the empty interstellar spaces where he is welcome with veneration: the stars are twinkling in a holy way, making way for him: "He climbs atop a mountain, a star from (the) sky descends, / A star, a golden eagle with wings of fire, / Mounting on it he flies towards (the) infinite, / The holy stars were twinkling to make way for him." The interstellar scene has its correspondent in the poem "Hyperion", where Hyperion's flight takes place in "A sky of stars above his way / A sky of stars below; / As lightning flash midst them astray / In one continuous flow." The magus' flight follows the same trajectory: "Above him - stars, beneath him - stars/ He flies incessantly - a wounded thunder; / Above, to the right, to the left the fields of stars/ Disappear. He falls - a star thrown into the chaos." The magus "is flying like the thought that is throwing him into the future", Hyperion "is flying - thought driven by longing"; the time is suppressed, re - dimensioned like in the poem "Hyperion": the ways "of ages" that were passing "in as many seconds" are, in the magus' flight ways "of thousands days" into which "he falls in a second". Eminescu has here the vision of the infinite spaces; at the same time he has a particular feeling of time that often connotes in mythology. Moreover, he possesses the quality to think of time in negative forms: an organic being submitted to the phenomenon of death that transforms it into eternity - the eternity of absence. And he is thinking of time in its eternal passing. Eternal in its existence; gigantic in its repartition into historical and mythological phases; reduced to the plan of an eternal present: irrespective of the forms into which it is thought of, the time is associated through its proportions to the infinite proportions of the space and together they define the titanic manner of Hyperion's action vs. the magus' action vs. the action of the Emperor's Son, action determined by the high tension of the feelings.

The interplanetary spaces through which the magus is traveling are full of angels who bear the mystical enthusiasm of the world in order to place it on the steps of divinity. The angels give here to the vision of cosmic emptiness from "Hyperion", that is prior to the genesis, the gentle profoundness of a prayer: "And, spread in space, the angels were carrying in their laps / The worlds' deep, gentle prayers / And spreading royal wings in wind / Bring and deposit them on world's blue steps." Once arrived in the selenary nature, full of music(19), the magus is floating now on the gentle waters through islets and his boat is drawn by swans: "From rich islands with great laurel gardens, / Silver swans spreading their wings / Were coming to his boat, the water splitting/ And, harnessing to it were drawing it and singing."

The initiation ways of the prince are in number of two in the poem: the thinking in the wide - awake state (through which the seraph's voice is heard) and then the dream in a journey through the astral spaces to which the Emperor's Son is led by the angel Sleep at the order of the magus. Unable to surmount "the negative of the existent world" the young voivode, ascetic now through meditation, will remain in a state of "perpetual death", engrossed in contemplating a world in which everything is a projection of his soul, a creation of his rich fantasy. In this ghostlike universe, he moves like a big recluse who has the voluptuousness of rediscovering his self in every thing and also the huge burden of eternal solitude.

In "The Story of the Traveling Magus to the Stars" after the old age, as a mythical age, creates the poem's initial setting, the atmosphere of death, the crying from the inter- worlds – melancholy of the Neptunian clime in Eminescu's manner – occur again on sundry occasions; a fine restlessness traverses the whole poem – gentle sound and lightly tired. The selenary coldness, the translucent mist, the funeral pallor, the profound sleep, the pure contact with the eternity – the quest for the diaphanous materiality of death – signs of a profound metaphysic. And Hyperion grows from waters like "a handsome dead with vivid eyes", a young and haughty voivode with a shroud like mantle.

The air of death is present even in the idealization of youth, which is a funeral one: the "painfully pale" voivode, the "pale face" of the demon Sleep, the angel "as pale as the marble", a real diffuse androgyny of death. Then it is the magic visionarism that suggests the sleep: "It is not only about the magic drink from the cup of the angel of Sleep, but also about the ampler drowsiness of the poem, about those verses heavy with tiring sweetness, about the gentle monotony that brings the sleep, that is about vision, in a prohibited sense, of the non – world, of the spirit."(20) The mythical visionarism from "The Story of the Traveling Magus to the Stars" is present not in the articulation of the myth itself, but in the articulation of the ideal material out of which it extracts the vigour; such a material is that mineral, geological old age from which the poem starts. The old age that has become the time itself, its immense heap, its snowing up in itself – the mythical, concrete, material time.

The journey of the Emperor's Son, resumed to the hypostasis of Orphic monk/ poet on the Sleep's wing, which later appears to be the wing of the Angel, gives consistency to one of the three figures(21) – the Poet, the Monk and the Voivode – who are placed under one star. These ones form the one and the same contemplative and painful soul under three pale masks lighted by the Northern Star. The gentle marble angel that is Sleep and Death is shining coldly and sadly under this threefold mask: The Poet, the Monk and the Voivode. If the Poet, the Monk and the Voivode belong to the damned species of those who "do not drink the wine of oblivion" and, thus, preserve forever in mind the painful loneliness of the Demiurge, the embryonic crying of the chaos - their pallor and sadness have a more profound meaning: the mystery of the world opens in their hearts and this mystery overcomes them with the voluptuousness of the suffering. They do not live overwhelmed with the fear of death in its frightful imminence, but, like the Demiurge, in its eternity, in its infinite grief; the Voivode – monarch is the mysterious androgynous with his face white with pallor, sublunar, an angel - demon irradiating his magic sadness or his astral power; a tear – stained angel – the Demiurgos's image in the poem. The Poet, the Monk and the Sovereign – would embody a complete mythical figure: that lonely Demiurgos drown in tears: "If Demiurgos is crying, it's only him that hears ..."


5. Conclusions

In accordance to the Platonic cosmogonical pattern "The Story of the Traveling Magus to the Stars", a philosophical fairy - tale epically structured on the archetype pattern of traversing an initiation journey, reveals the drama of the genius, drama that shapes not from the genius' confrontation with the human, but with he himself, with his own conscience of "an immortal and cold" being in a world that is the creation of his powerful spirit. In reality the genius does not define his condition but only in relation to the human - the absolute of life versus the absolute of the conscience, through his descend from the transcendental into the immanent in order to live the consequence of the disagreement between the two planes.

The Morning Star is not only the poetical expression of the genius' drama but also an attempt to perceive the condition of the man from a double perspective: that of the singular personality and the one of the ordinary man as well. Hyperion is the superior man who, pushed by his structure towards life, cannot surmount "the negative of the existent world". As such, his final option will be that of "perpetual death", that is the existence in the plan of the spirit from where he can watch bitterly the immortals' narrow horizon. The Morning Star is the hypostasis perceived from the part of the world of the human, of the contingent; Hyperion is the hypostasis revealed from the part of the world of the transcendent, of the Demiurge. He is a part of the universe, of that whole represented by the Demiurge, and tearing him away from this system would mean destroying the universal balance. The acceptance of immortality means self - denial because the Demiurge and Hyperion are hypostases of the same principle.

The Emperor's Son is the hypostasis in the historical world; the Monk is the hypostasis of the Orphic poet in the mythical world. The Morning Star is taking an initiating journey to the center/ the original point of the world and to his own inner self - inner journey, creating contemplation. In his journey he saw himself for the first time and forever!... One cannot know but what one bears inside. Unprecedented is the fact that one, being just inside of one's own self, has to see what is to be found outside! What is reflected in our inner self is profounder than what can be seen directly, if lacking reflection. Here we can discern the whole immensity of the world. The Emperor's Son goes on an initiating journey in order to be able to rule the historical world, but he goes through an initiating route in order to understand the essence of creativity.

Hyperion is "above the aeons" - in the realm of spirituality, where there is no time and space; the Demiurge says it explicitly. The magus tells to the Emperor's Son: "God placed in you no boundaries in thinking. / (...) This boundless thinking that's deep inside you / It's a world within the world and lasts forever, too." - boundless thinking of the one who has no star, consubstantial with the divine thinking. Neither Hyperion nor the Emperor's Son find vs. are absolved (from) immortality: the Demiurge offers Hyperion everything, "but not death". The magus tells to the young prince: "I carry the stars' destinies with me, / But you have no star in all the mighty sky. / That's why I cannot do a thing for you. / The letter destined to you, to change it, I cannot. / What there is, I can change... / What's not written in serene stars I cannot know. Are strange writings / by God thought of ..." There remain the two ways of initiation the thinking in the wide - awake state (through which the voice of the seraph is heard) and then the dream on the wing of the angel Sleep- the state of perpetual death. Hyperion, astral presence, is not absolved from immortality too, taking "his destined place in the sky ": "And I in my own kingdom rein / Immutable and cold."(22)

In "The Story of the Traveling Magus to Stars" the Emperor's Son would be the correspondent of(23) the traveler - philosopher: the ideal category. The philosopher is a universalist through destination, he is not ethnocentric (like Hyperion). "His purpose is not to check the variety, the differentiation of the cultures but the attempt to reconcile things in a universal vision".(24)

The allegory of masks adds impressionistic valences too, the protagonists, Hyperion, the Emperor's Son marveling at the possible worlds revealed on the sidereal romantic journey - existential journey, reflection of the self's depth in the conscience.


Secondary Sources

Primary Sources



1. D. Caracostea, Arta cuvantului la Eminescu. The Art of Word in Eminescu's Poems), Junimea Publishing House, Iasi, p. 378.
2 Ioana Petrescu, Eminescu. Modele cosmologice si viziune poetica Eminescu. Cosmological Models and Poetical Vision, Paralela 45 Publishing House, Pitesti, 2000, p. 51.
3 Handing over the reign is like setting moving in the outer space (according to Negoitescu): "I pray the sky to increase earthly moments, / To set moving on younger shoulder the empire that I carry", the very same way The Morning Star "sets moving/ sets off" from "his destined place in the sky", taking the journey to gain "an hour of love" in exchange of eternity.
4 Ioana Em. Petrescu, quoted work, p.52.
5 Tzvetan Todorov, Nous et les Autres (Noi si ceilalti) (We and the Others), translation by Alexandru Vlad, Institutul European Publishing House, Iasi, 1999.
6 Baudrillard, Jaques, Marc Guillaume, Figuri ale alteritatii (Figures of Alterity), translation by Ciprian Mihali, Paralela 45 Publishing House, Pitesti, 2002, p. 52.
7 I. Negoitescu, Poezia lui Eminescu (Eminescu's Poetry), EPL, Tineretului Publishing House, Bucharest, 1968, p. 52.
8 According to Petrescu.
9 According to Petrescu.
10 I. Negoitescu, quoted work, p. 52.
11 D. Popovici, Poezia lui Eminescu (Eminescu's Poetry), Tineretului Publishing House, Bucharest, 1969, p. 323.
12 According to Negoitescu, the quoted work; the intuition in the manner of Eminescu - the one of the unanimous substratum of death: death is the substance and the unique sense that the world can reveal, and even the Demiurge is crying because the most awaken conscience of the almighty death is burning inside of him. And the chaos is death, that is born, primordial, sunk into itself, "realizing fully by itself", and on earth the sleep remains the most powerful and the closest conscience of death.
13 Alain Guillermou, Geneza interioara a poeziilor lui Eminescu (The Inner Genesis of Eminescu's Poems), Junimea Publishing House, Iasi, 1977, p. 376.
14 "I have dreamed so much, I have dreamed so much that I am not from here." - Leon - Paul Fargue, according to Albert Beguin, Sufletul romantic si visul (The Romantic Soul and the Dream), Univers Publishing House, Bucharest, 1998, p. 206.
15 On the impressionistic journey the intuition, the sensitivity, the visions about the worlds matter."
16 Marcel Proust, according to Albert Beguin, the quoted work, p.201.
17 According to Beguin.
18 Albert Beguin, the quoted work, p.47.
19 The universe knows not rest; it is musical in its structure because its structure is given by the laws of harmony. What seems to be silence to us is but the result of our incapacity to perceive the eternal and uninterrupted song of the worlds.
20 The universe knows not rest; it is musical in its structure because its structure is given by the laws of harmony. What seems to be silence to us is but the result of our incapacity to perceive the eternal and uninterrupted song of the worlds.
21 According to Negoitescu.
22 Dumitru Irimia, Limbajul poetic eminescian (Eminescu's Poetic Diction), Junimea Publishing House, Iasi, 1979, p. 367.
23 According to Todorov' s typology.
24 According to Baudrillard.


(C) Maria Kozak (< > National College of Targu-Mureş, Romania)

6.7. The travel: knowledge, communication and / or power

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For quotation purposes:
Mioara Kozak: Hyperion or The Road to the Center: A Pseudo-Historical Narrative and Multiple Identity Games - In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW:

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