Light of Light, O Sun of Heaven

Martin Opitz
German
1597 – 1639

 

Light of light, O Sun of heaven,
O Thou bright and morning Star,
To mankind in mercy given,
Send Thy radiance from afar,
Bringing light to all the earth,
Health and strength, and joy and mirth;
Darkness past, the dawn is breaking,
All creation is awaking.

Still my soul is thickly shrouded
In the chilling mist of sin,
And my conscience is beclouded
By the ignorance within.
Lead me by the hand, I pray,
Lest in error’s path I stray;
Make Thy light my sole attraction,
Guiding every thought and action.

Spirit of the heavenly morning,
Shine into my darkened heart,
That, the way of life discerning,
I may choose the better part.
Make my erring walk secure,
Every thought and action pure;
Whereso’er my feet be turning,
Keep Thy zeal within me burning.

Deign Thy feeble flock to strengthen
By the bonds of sacred love,
And Thy lines of empire lengthen
By Thy power from above.
Help us govern in Thy sight,
That our laws be just and right;
That we suffer no oppression,
Make our land Thine own possession.

Let our lamp of faith be burning
On that awful judgment day.
While in sin’s domain sojourning,
Guide us in the heavenward way:
Then their praise and thanks to Thee,
Lord, in all eternity
Shall Thy happy children render,
For Thy mercies, kind and tender.

from Ardhakathānaka

Banarasidas
Indian
1586 – 1643

 

Samvat 1662.
Came the month of Kartik and the end of the rainy season.
The great Emperor Akbar
Died in the city of Agra.

The news of his death reached Jaunpur.
The people, bereft of their emperor, felt orphaned and helpless.
The townsfolk were afraid,
Their hearts troubled, their faces pale with fear.

Banarasi suddenly
Heard of Akbar’s death.
He had been sitting on the stairs,
The news struck him like a blow upon the heart.

He swooned and fell,
He could not help himself.
He cracked his head and began bleeding profusely.
The word ‘God’ slipped from his mouth.

He had hurt his head on the stone floor
Of the courtyard, which turned red with his blood.
Everyone began making a great fuss;
His mother and father were frantic.

His mother held him in her arms,
Applied a piece of burnt cloth to his wound.
Then, making up a bed, she laid her son upon it
His mother wept unceasingly.

Meanwhile there was chaos in the city,
Riots broke out everywhere.
People sealed shut the doors of their houses,
Shopkeepers would not sit in their shops.

Fine clothes and expensive jewellery–
These, people buried underground.
Books recording their business transactions they buried somewhere else,
And hid their cash and other goods in safe and secure places.

In every house, weapons were gathered.
Men began to wear plain clothes
And casting off fine shawls, wrapped themselves in rough blankets.
The women too began to dress plainly.

No one could tell the difference between the high and the low.
The rich and the poor were alike.
No thieves or robbers were to be seen anywhere,
People were needlessly afraid.

The chaos and confusion continued for ten days.
Then peace returned:
A letter came from Agra saying that all was well.
This was what the letter said–

“The great Akbar was emperor
For fifty-two years.
Now in Samvat 1662,
He died in the month of Kartik.”

“Akbar’s oldest son
Sahib Shah Salim,
Has, in the city of Agra, assumed the throne
In Akbar’s palace.”

“He has taken the name of Nuruddin
Jahangir Sultan.
This news is being given all over the kingdom,
In every place where the emperor’s authority holds sway.”

This was the news contained in the letter
Which was read from house to house
And spread around Jaunpur
Causing the people to give thanks in relief.

There was joy in Kharagsen’s house
A state of well-being prevailed, gone were sorrow and strife;
Banarasi recovered, and bathed;
The family rejoiced and gave alms generously in their joy.

Lament for Clairac

Theophile de Viau
French
1590 – 1626

 

Sweet place where I adored Phyllis of yore,
Sun-hallowed walls that held my soul in charms,
Today beneath our sundered roofs no more
Than bloody spoil for prideful men at arms,

Cloth of the altar gone in smoke and scorned,
Temple in ruins, mysteries undone,
Horrific relicts of a city burned:
Men, horses, palaces, buried as one.

Deep moats packed with debris from shattered walls,
Tableaux of horror, shrieks and burials,
River where blood has not stopped running high,

Slaughterfields where the wolves and crows gorge free,
Clairac! For the one birth you gave to me
How many, many deaths you make me die.

Surrender of an Exiled Lover to the Power of His Own Sadness

We present this work in honor of the 375th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Francisco de Quevedo
Spanish
1580 – 1645

 

These are now and will be the very last
tears that, with all the strength of living voice,
I shall lose in this fountain’s fleeting stream,
which carries them to slake the thirst of brutes.

I’m fortunate if, on some far-off shore,
while nourishing so much elusive pain,
I find a death that’s merciful, and fells
such flimsy structures built on weakened roots!

A spirit thus stripped bare a lover pure,
upon the sun I’ll burn, and my cold flesh
in dust and earth will keep Love’s memory.

to travellers I’ll be an epitaph,
since my face, lifeless, will declare to them:
“It was Love’s triumph to make war on me.”

To Lucasta, Going to the Wars

Richard Lovelace
English
1617 – 1657

 

Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
Lov’d I not Honour more.

To Her Father With Some Verses

We present this work in honor of Parents’ Day.

Anne Bradstreet
English
1612 – 1672

 

Most truly honoured, and as truly dear,
If worth in me or ought I do appear,
Who can of right better demand the same
Than may your worthy self from whom it came?
The principal might yield a greater sum,
Yet handled ill, amounts but to this crumb;
My stock’s so small I know not how to pay,
My bond remains in force unto this day;
Yet for part payment take this simple mite,
Where nothing’s to be had, kings loose their right.
Such is my debt I may not say forgive,
But as I can, I’ll pay it while I live;
Such is my bond, none can discharge but I,
Yet paying is not paid until I die.

Love Arm’d

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 380th birthday.

Aphra Behn
English
1740 – 1689

 

Love in Fantastique Triumph satt,
Whilst bleeding Hearts around him flow’d,
For whom Fresh pains he did create,
And strange Tryanic power he show’d;
From thy Bright Eyes he took his fire,
Which round about, in sport he hurl’d;
But ‘twas from mine he took desire,
Enough to undo the Amorous World.
From me he took his sighs and tears,
From thee his Pride and Crueltie;
From me his Languishments and Feares,
And every Killing Dart from thee;
Thus thou and I, the God have arm’d,
And sett him up a Deity;
But my poor Heart alone is harm’d,
Whilst thine the Victor is, and free.