Monday, 26 December 2011

A poem by the Dutch writer
Jacobus Revius (1586-1658)


God with his wires invisible has strung the world
As ’twere a lute, with all of its accoutrements.
The welkin is the bowl, full-ribbed from end to end,
The rose, the sun and moon whose orbits round us twirl.

The two coarse bass strings that forever boom and roar
Are earth and ocean: the high chanterelle, so sweet
Upon the ear, the sky: the others that complete
The choir are the trees and beasts of every sort.

This lute th’Almighty plucked with His accomplished fingers,
The angels then joined in as His proficient singers,
The mountains listened rapt, the rivers all stood still:
And man alone hears neither singers nor the strings,
Unless it please God to reveal to him such things
According to His prudent plan and heav’nly will.


David C Brown said...

Really good - any chance of more Revius?

John Irons said...

It's the only one of his i've done so far, but i'll see if i can find more to try my hand at.
these highly polished sonnets take quite a long time to translate, but if they work they're about the most satisfying thing you can imagine for a translator.