Sunday, 24 January 2016

Vondel's Lucifer (Act I, lines 344-410) - Joost van den Vondel

Chorus of Angels:
Strophe.
Who is it on His Throne, high-seated,
So deep in boundless realms of light,
Whose measure, space nor time hath meted,
Nor e'en eternity; whose might,
Supportless, yet itself maintaineth,
Floating on pinions of repose;
Who, in His mightiness ordaineth
What round and in Him changeless flows
And what revolves and what is driven
Around Him, centre of His plan;
The sun of suns, the spirit-leaven
Of space; the soul of all we can
Conceive, and of the unconceivèd,
The heart, the life, the fount, the sea,
And source of all things here perceivèd,
That from Him spring, that His decree
Omnipotent and Mercy flowing
And Wisdom from naught did evoke,
Ere this full-crownèd palace glowing,
The Heaven of Heavens, the darkness broke?
Where o'er our eyes our wings extending
To veil His dazzling Majesty,
'Mid harmonies to Him ascending,
We fall before Him tremblingly
And kneel, confused, in awe together.
Who is it? Name, or picture then
His Being with a Seraph's feather.
Or is't beyond your tongue and ken?

Antistrophe.
'Tis God: Being infinite, eternal,
Of everything that being has.
Forgive us, O! Thou Power supernal,
By all that is and ever was
Ne'er fully praised, ne'er to be spoken;
Forgive us, nor incensed depart,
Since no imagining, tongue nor token
Can Thee proclaim. Thou wert. Thou art
Fore'er the same. All Angel praising
And knowledge is but faint and tame.
'Tis but foul sacrilege, their phrasing;
For each bears his peculiar name
Save Thee. And who can by declaring
Reveal Thy name? And who make known
Thine oracles? Who is so daring?
He who Thou art Thou art alone.
Save Thee none knows Thy power transcendent.
Who grasps Thy full divinity?
Who dares to face Thy Throne resplendent,
The fierce glow of eternity?
To whom the light of light revealèd?
What's hid behind Thy sacred veil,
From us Thy Mercy hath concealèd.
Such bliss transcends the narrow pale
Of our weak might. Our life is waning;
But Thine, Lord, shall know endless days.
Our being in Thine finds its sustaining!
Exalt the Godhead! Sing His praise!
"Who is it on His Throne, high-seated?"

Epode.
Holy! holy! once more holy!
Three times holy! Honor God!
Without Him is nothing holy!
Holy is His mighty nod!
Strong in mystery He reigneth!
His commands our tongues compel
To proclaim what He ordaineth,
What the faithful Gabriel
With his trumpet came expounding.
Praise of man to God redounding!
All that pleaseth God is well.

Joost van den Vondel (1587 – 1679) The Netherlands
Translated by Charles Leonard van Noppen
Act I, lines 344 - 410 | Source: Project Gutenberg
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