The Dacian Allurement

excerpt  Never have I felt more keenly all that separates us from the West than in a summer afternoon spent in the Versailles gardens. In the park full of Greek memories: Apollo's Pool, that of Latona, in which the superposed arrangement of the gardens that mount towards the castle reconstitute the harmony of the spheres, so that, arrived under the staircase, in front of the circular garden, the circle of the cut trees and the threshold of the stair surround the horizon in a perfectly closed circle, out of which, at the first step, the wing of the castle rises, like a beating of a wing in the threshold of the world – you, Thracian, conquered by the beauty, remain, still, a stranger. You feel that here the eye is oriented in another way than you, with respect to the outer world, it sees differently. You feel that reason, to imprint its order upon things, must trim the trees and rebuilt the horizon, subordinating all to a geometry which alone appears as a spiritual manifestation. You feel that here the spirit pushes nature towards its margins, that the irregularity blurs in the iridescent and grey air, that the branches of the trees do not recover their freedom of growing but from a certain height and distance, from which the irregularity of the detail looses itself in the unity of the overall vision. And without wanting to, their free growth, at the edge of the closed universe of the mind, resembles to those gargoyles that spring from the height of the stone cathedrals, from the corners, that the order of the spirit chases away like some earthly goblins, elementary and menacing of the order in everything. You understand then that, with all differences of centuries and styles – here the classicism of the 17th century, the homologated Versailles, meets Nôtre-Dame – you have before you a man that does not place himself in front of the universe the same way as you. That you have a man whose "humanity" is to oppose nature, to assert himself as craftsman and master. What a difference between this and the feeling of brotherhood of man with the surrounding things, with the feeling of the man that lives integrated in the harmony of the natural order of the spheres, in which the proportions of what he expresses and what he lives around him sing the same song, he melts in the same harmony of the world, feels to be of himself among his folks. You need for this, but to watch the households with the whiteness of the houses spread among the trees on the hills on whose foot you travel in the rush of the train; or to let yourselves caught in the spell of the placement of the city as a flower among the plains of green, when the train starts descending the slope from Bîrnova towards Iaşi. You feel the same way if you let speak to your soul the poetry of the placement of the monasteries around Bucharest, like Snagov or Căldăruşani or, further on, Horezul. Man is different. These things cannot be seen but they exist still. There isn't a more instructive thing for the one who wants to feel what separates him from the West and what constitutes him as his own reaction, but the passing in a short interval of time from the Roman cathedral of Alba Iulia, where voivode Iancu sleeps among strangers, at the church nearby, built for the crowning of the Unifying King… I spent many hours near them during the time of my past musings. On the other side, the same majestic feeling of the man that wants to dominate the surroundings. The tower that dominates the landscape around it, the walls to which time gave an transparent colour as if they washed in it, the stone notches, all speaks about the craftsman, the man that imposes himself upon nature, wants himself different and master upon it, to defeat death and the waste of time… to endure. On this side… everything is fitted to man and the surrounding nature, as if you were in a garden. Not an effort of persistence. Everything is the natural development of the surrounding nature. The tower in front guards the entrance like a poplar. (In the horizon of the grand canal of Versailles, two poplars closed, on the contrary, the horizon, like a gate…) The porches around the church mingle with the petunias. Every thing is a calm procession of things. And, through their opening, there come in the humming of the Mureş Valley and the greyish horizon of Zarand. Nothing of what man built there insults the landscape, differs from it, was added to it. Here, the Romanian man is whole, as we know him, the man of the melancholy Romanian folk song and of the Romanian ring dance, brother to the mountain and to the woods, brother.


by Mircea Vulcănescu (1904-1952)