According to Octavian Goga, in the early stages of his artistic creation he started “from a monographic idea of a village.” In his first volume, “Poezii” (Poems; 1905), Goga appears, more than anything, as an idealistic and emphatic artist. The monography of his village does not seem to be realistic in any way, but rather it seems to be the representation of a fantastic realm, an ideal place that has somehow been lost in time.
His lyrics only seldom touch on actual religious themes, although the whole land of Transylvania is seen, in the words of Nicolae Manolescu, as a “fallen Eden, in which the highest calls and the noblest human qualities were mocked, in which a universal cry resonates everywhere, and the splendors of nature are covered by the ashes of an inexorable decline.”
His poetry, similar to G. Coșbuc’s as far as the main themes are concerned, has a neo-romantic aspect, often offering sentimental and pathetic statements. His lyrics invoke a lost realm, which the lyrical self is aware that can no longer be brought back.
The subsequent collections, “Ne cheamă pământul” (The Calling of the Earth, 1909), “Din umbra zidurilor” (From the Shadow of the Walls, 1913) and “Cântece fără țară” (Songs Without a Country, 1916) resume a series of images from his first volume, sometimes adding other religious allegories, although processed in such a way that the religious reference is easily identified – at the same time without being a main theme.
A few poems manage, in the form of a sonnet, to create a small-Parisian atmosphere, but they do not come very close to the quality of Ion Pillat’s sonnets.
Goga’s masterpiece, the poem “Noi,” gives us the image of the idyllic land, but covered by mourning and overshadowed by the overwhelming fog of a foreign force, an allegory of the occupation of Transylvania by the Hungarians before 1918, when the territory was still under Austro-Hungarian ruling.
Goga’s playwrights are uneven and, with the exception of the play “Domnul Notar” (Mr. Notary, 1914), lacking in artistic value. The author’s journalism suffers massively mainly because of the strong nationalism that the texts display, although a first volume collected by Goga himself, “Precursori” (Precursors), offers us some interesting historical portraits of his contemporaries.