Sunday, 13 December 2015

Vondel's Lucifer (Act I, lines 282-343) - Joost van den Vondel

Gabriel:
So be ye faithful, ever rendering thus
Both God and man your service: since mankind
So well belovèd are by God Himself.
Who honours Adam wins his Father's heart.
And men and Angels, issuing from one stem.
Are brothers and companions, chosen for
One lot, the sons and heirs of the Most High,
A stainless line. One undivided will,
One undivided love, be this your law.

Ye know how all the Angel hosts into
Three Hierarchies and lesser Orders nine
Are duly separate: of Seraphim
And Cherubim and Thrones, the highest, they
Who form God's inmost Council and confirm
All His commands; the second Hierarchy,
Of Dominations. Virtues. Powers, that on
The mandates of God's secret Council wait
And minister to man's well-being and bliss.
The third and lowest Hierarchy, composed
Of Principalities and all Archangels
And Angels, is unto the middle rank
Subordinate, and service finds beneath
The sphere of purest crystalline, in their
Particular charge, that wide is as the vault
Of starry space. And when the world shall spread
Its widening bounds without, shall unto each
Of these some province there allotted be,
Or he shall know what town or house or being
Is to his care committed, to the praise
And honour of God's crown. Ye faithful ones,
Ye Gods immortal, go then and obey
Chief Lucifer, bound by your God's commands.

Bring glory to high Heaven in serving man,
Each in his own retreat, each on his watch.
Let some before the Godhead incense burn
And lay before His towering Throne their prayers,
Their wishes and their offerings for mankind,
Singing the Godhead praise until the sounds
Re-echo through the corridors of Heaven,
In endless jubilation. Let some whirl
The constellations and the globes of Heaven,
Or open wide the skies, or pile them high
With pregnant clouds, to bless the mount below
With sunshine, or with soft, refreshing showers
Of manna and of pure mellifluous dews;
Where God is by the happy pair adored,
The primal innocence 'mid Eden's bowers.
Let those that air and fire and earth and sea
O'er range, each, in his element, his pace
So moderate, as Adam may require;
Or chain in bands the lightnings, curb the storm,
Or break the ocean's fury on the strand.
Let others make a charge of man himself.

Even to a hair the sovran Deity
Knoweth the hairs upon his head. Then bear
Him gently on your hands, lest he should dash
His foot against a stone. Let one now as
Ambassador from the Omnipotent
Be sent below to Adam. King of Earth.
That he perform his bounden charge. I voice
The orders to my trump on high enjoined.
To these the Godhead holds you firmly bound.

Joost van den Vondel (1587 – 1679) The Netherlands
Translated by Charles Leonard van Noppen
Act I, lines 282 - 343 | Source: Project Gutenberg
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