Monday, 14 September 2015

Vondel's Lucifer (Act I, lines 223-281) - Joost van den Vondel

Great is man's might, that thus even ours out-grows!

Soon shall his increase frighten and astound.
Though now his sway stoops lower than the moon,
And though 'tis now determinate, he shall
Yet higher rise and place himself upon
The highest seat in Heaven. If God prevent
Not this, how then can we prevent it? For
God loves man well and for him made all things.

What hear I there? A trumpet? Surely then
A voice will follow. Go, see, while we here

         The Archangel Gabriel is at hand,
And in his wake the choristers of Heaven,
In the name of Him, the Highest, to unfold,
As Herald from the towering Throne of Thrones,
What there him was enjoined.

                            We please to hear
Whatever the Archangel shall command.


Give ear, ye Angels all; give ear, ye hosts
Of Heaven. The highest Goodness, from whose breast
Flow all things good and all things holy, who
Of His beneficence ne'er wearied grows
And of whose teeming grace the riches never
Shall know decrease; whose might and Being transcend
The comprehension of His creatures all:
This Goodness, in the image of Himself,
Formed man, also the Angels that they might
Together here with Him securely hold
The Realm eterne--the good ne'er-comprehended.
Having the while with faithfulness maintained
His firm prescribed law. He also built
This wondrous universe, the world below
Made manifest, and meet for God and man,
That in this garden man might rule and there
Might multiply; acknowledge God with all
His seed; Him ever serve and e'er revere,
And thus mount up, by the stairway of the world,
The firmament of beatific light
Within, into the ne'er-created glow.
Though Spirits may seem pre-eminent, above
All other beings, yet God hath decreed,
Even from eternity, that man shall high
Exalted be, even o'er the Angel world;
Him destined for a glory and a crown
Of splendour not inferior to His own.
Ye shall behold the eternal Word above,
When clad in flesh and bone, anointed Lord
And Chief and Judge, mete justice to the hosts
Of Spirits, to Angels and to men alike,
From His high seat, in His unshadowed Realm.
There in the centre stands the holy Throne
Already consecrate. Let all the hosts
Angelic then have care to worship Him,
When He shall ride in triumph in, who hath
The human form exalted o'er our own.
Then dimly shines the bright translucent flame
Of Seraphim, beside this light of man,
This glow and radiance divine. The rays
Of Mercy shall all Nature's splendors drown.
'Tis fated thus--and stands irrevocable.

All that the Heavens ordain shall please God's hosts.

Joost van den Vondel (1587 – 1679) The Netherlands
Translated by Charles Leonard van Noppen
Act I, lines 223-281 | Source: Project Gutenberg
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