No creature hath on high mine eye so pleased
As those below. Who could so subtly soul
With body weave and two-fold Angels form
From clay and bone? The body's shapely mould
Attests the Maker's art, that in the face,
The mirror of the mind, doth best appear.
But wonderful! upon the face is stamped
The image of the soul. All beauty here
Concentres, while a god looks through the eyes.
Above the whole the reasoning soul doth hover,
And while the dumb and brutish beasts all look
Down towards their feet, man proudly lifts alone
His head to Heaven, in lofty praise to God.
His praise is not in vain for gifts so rare.
He rules even like a god whom all must serve.
The invisible soul consists of spirit and not
Of matter, and it rules in every limb:
The brain it makes its seat, and there holds court.
It is immortal, nor fears aught of rust,
Or other injury. 'Tis past our sense.
Knowledge and prudence, virtue and free-will,
Are its possessions. Dumb all Spirits stand
Before its majesty. Ere long the world
Shall teem with men. It waits, from little seed,
A harvest rich in souls; and therefore God
Did man to woman join.
Now say me how
Thou dost regard his rib—his lovèd spouse?
I covered with my wings mine eyes and face
That I might curb my thoughts and deep delight,
When erst she filled my gaze, as Adam led her
Into their arborous bower with gentle hand:
From time to time he stopped, in contemplation;
And gazing thus, a holy fire began
His pure breast to inflame. And then he kissed
His bride and she her bridegroom: thus on joy
Their nuptials fed—on feasts of fiery love,
Better imagined far than told, a bliss
Divine beyond all Angel ken. How poor
Our loneliness! For us no union sweet
Of two-fold sex, of maiden and of man.
Alas! how much of good we miss: we know
No mate or happy marriage in a Heaven
Devoid of woman.
Thus in time a world
Of men shall be begotten there below?
The love of beauty, fashioned in the brain,
Deeply impressèd by the senses keen,
This makes their union strong. Their life consists
Alone in loving and in being loved-
One sweet, one mutual joy, by them indulged
Perpetually, yet e'er unquenchable.
Now picture me the bride, described from life.
Joost van den Vondel (1587 – 1679) The Netherlands
Translated by Charles Leonard van Noppen
Act I, lines 122-172 | Source: Project Gutenberg
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