Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Vondel's Lucifer (Act I, lines 51-95) - Joost van den Vondel

I'll pass my journey thither by nor tell
How downward sweeping through nine spheres I sped.
That swift as arrows round their centre whirl.
The wheel of sense revolves within our thoughts
Not with such speed, as I beneath the moon
And clouds dropped down. Where then aloft I hung,
On floating pinions, to survey that shore,
That Eastern landscape far that marks the face
Of that great sphere the flowing ocean rounds,
Wherein so many kinds of monsters swarm.
Afar I saw a lofty mount emerge,
From which a waterfall, fount of four streams,
Dashed with a roar into the vale below.
Headlong I steered my course oblique, with steep
Descent, until I gained the mountain's brow,
Whence, resting, all the nether world I viewed,
Its happy fields and glowing opulence.

Now picture us the garden and its shape.

Round is the garden, as the world itself.
Above the centre looms the mount from which
The fountain gushes that divides in four,
And waters all the land, refreshing trees
And fields; and flows in unreflective rills
Of crystal purity. The streams their rich
Alluvion bring and nourish all the ground.
Here Onyx gleams and Bdellion doth shine;
And bright as Heaven glows with glittering stars;
So here Dame Nature sowed her constellations
Of stones that pale our stars. Here dazzle veins
Of gold; for Nature wished to gather all
Her treasures in one lap.

What of the air
That hovers round whereby that creature lives?
"I see golden leaves, all laden with
Ethereal pearls, the sparkling silvery dew."

No Angel us among, a breath exhales
So soft and sweet as the pure draught refreshing
That there meets man, that lightly cools his face
And with its gentle, vivifying touch
All things caresses in its blissful course:
There swells the bosom of the fertile field
"With herb and hue and bud and branch and bloom
And odours manifold, which nightly dew
Refresh. The rising and the setting sun
Know and observe their proper, measured time
And so unto the need of every plant
Temper their mighty rays that flower and fruit
Are all within the selfsame season found.

Joost van den Vondel (1587 – 1679) The Netherlands
Translated by Charles Leonard van Noppen
Act I, lines 51-95 | Source: Project Gutenberg
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