ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Life and Legacy of Romanian Poet Mihai Eminescu

Updated on September 7, 2019
ziyena profile image

An Arts, Literature and History Buff, Humanities Major, Published Indie Writer, Avid Photographer, and World Foodie & Travel Enthusiast

Exceptional is the word that is no secret when speaking of their Mihai Eminescu. To the people of Romania, as a native son Eminescu is a cultural icon, a poet, novelist, and journalist revered for his prolific literary legacy.

Mihail Eminovici Eminescu was born on January 15th, 1850, but more commonly known as Mihai, spent his childhood years, growing up in Botoșani and Ipotești, Moldavia. By the 4th grade, he attended Cernăuţi (gymnasium) in Romanian meaning ‘high school’ and graduated in 1866.

After graduating from gymnasium, Mihai published his very first poem in the Familia literary magazine: “If I were to have,” the first of many in which gave rise to his nom de plume Mihai Eminescu, in an attempt to rid himself of his Slavic origin in preference to a Romanian facade.

As an active member of the Romanian literary society known as Junimea, he also worked as an editor and journalist for the Time newspaper, a director of Central University Library of Iași, a substitute teacher, and school inspector. In that time, he juggled these positions along with his writing career until he fell seriously ill in 1883.

 Mihai Eminescu: Portrait by Jan Tomas circa 1869
Mihai Eminescu: Portrait by Jan Tomas circa 1869 | Source


A late 18th-century movement, which expressed intellectualism through means of literature, music, and the visual arts. Associated with liberalism and radicalism, many engrossed in the movement were considered noble for their free expression and elevation of society.

Famed Literary Achievements

Romanian historian, Nicolae Lorga considered Mihai Eminescu as one of the most significant literary figures in Romanian history, dubbing him ‘the Godfather of the Romanian language,’ given this one can easily see the revered homage fits considering his long list of literary feats in Romanticism.

Much of Eminescu’s work is available in the Romanian language. However, there are collections of his best works translated into English such as Cristian Butnariu’s Eternal Moments.


  • Mai am un singur dor (I Have Yet One Desire) 1883
  • Odă (în metru antic) (Ode (in Ancient Meter) 1883
  • Și dacă (And if…) 1883
  • Doina (Romanian song) 1884
  • Dorința (Desire) 1884
  • Epigonii (Epigones) 1884
  • Floare albastră (Blue Flower)
  • rămii (Oh, Linger On) 1884
  • Sara pe deal (Evening on the Hill) 1885
  • Lacul (The Lake) 1876
  • La Steaua (At Star) 1886
  • Scrisori (Letters or “Epistles-Satires”)


  • Cezara (Caesara)
  • Făt-Frumos din lacrimă (The Teardrop Prince)
  • Geniu pustiu (Empty Genius)
  • Sărmanul Dionis (Wretched Dionis)

Later Years in Life

In his later years, Mihai suffered from a mental ailment. When considering the words of literary critic Titu Maiorescu, the description of erratic mood swings seems to confirm a medical diagnosis of a bipolar disorder, not uncommon among famous artists, musicians, poets and writers throughout history. Though his chaos crippled his personal life, as with any inspired artist, his emotional senses seem to have helped his writing career.

Romanian writer Ion Luca Caragiale described these mood swings as a string of cycles that lasted for hours, days, weeks, and even months, and often triggered anxiety due to political affiliation, or his obsession with fellow poet, Veronic Micle who remained trapped in an oppressed marriage.

Poetess Veronica Micle
Poetess Veronica Micle | Source

A Love/Hate Relationship

"You must know, Veronica, that as much as I love you, I sometimes hate you; I hate you without a reason, without a word, only because I imagine you laughing with someone else, and your laughter doesn’t mean to him what it means to me and I feel I grow mad at the thought of somebody else touching you, when your body is exclusively and without impartasion to anyone. I sometimes hate you because I know you own all these allures that you charmed me with, I hate you when I suspect you might give away my fortune, my only fortune. I could only be happy beside you if we were far away from all the other people, somewhere, so that I didn’t have to show you to anybody and I could be relaxed only if I could keep you locked up in a bird house in which only I could enter."

~ Mihai Eminescu

As Fate Would Have It

Aside from his diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the poet also suffered from an ever-prevalent disease of the day, namely syphilis. The disease overtook him in 1883 and interned at a hospital. Syphilis slowly took its toll, and sadly, six years later, Eminescu died in a sanitorium.

Doctors who inspected his body suggested the famed poet died from the long-term use of mercury, and not at all uncommon for those who tried to cure themselves of the effects of syphilis in that time.

Upon the death of Mihai Eminescu in 1889, two months later, Veronica Micle took her own life by consuming a lethal dose of arsenic poisoning. The tragedy would forever mark the two artist lovers as tortured souls.

Belu Cemetery, Bucharest, Romania
Belu Cemetery, Bucharest, Romania | Source

A Writer’s Reflection

After reading a few of Eminescu’s translated poems, I found his verse amazingly poetic, rich with words of melancholy. Given his mental condition, perhaps at times his unbalance made him feel more of any given emotion in that moment of conception. Though flawed with human delicacy, it does not surprise me in the least that the Romanian people haled Eminescu as a genius in his day. His effort to embrace the Romantic movement without repentance made him immortal in their eyes, and to this day he remains a relevant piece of Romanian history.

Cited Sources & Works

  • Kurt W. Treptow “Poems & Prose of Mihai Eminescu” Center for Romanian Studies (May 1, 2000)
  • The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. (Jul 20, 1998) Mihail Eminescu Romanian Poet
  • The Team of Students and Teachers from Secondary School No. 1 Luduş, Romania. (2009) Nicolae Lorga
  • Emelia Stere: Central Europe Review (09 October, 2000)

© 2019 ziyena


Submit a Comment
  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    12 months ago from UK

    This is an interesting and well-written biography. Sad that his life was quite short.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)