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Penelope Fitzgerald

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🦋 holy, unspeakable, mysterious Night.

In case you have not been following comments on my years-old threads (and really -- who could blame you?): Ben has convinced me to re-open the Novalis translation project that I started back in 2007 but never really got anywhere with. He has contributed some excellent suggestions regarding nearly all of the sentences in the poem's second stanza. Perhaps you started reading this blog sometime since 2007 and you would be interested in helping out with this project, if only you knew about it! -- Well, here is your chance. We're trying to improve on the various English translations of Novalis' poem Hymns to the Night, and we're trying to do it by committee. Take a look and see what you think.

Ben's working translation of the second hymn is below the fold.

Hymn to the Night Ⅱ

Does the Morning always have to return?

Will the obligations of everyday life never stop?

Troublesome activity undermines the heavenly passage of Night.

Won’t the secret offering of love ever burn for ever?

Light’s time was measured out, but the power of the Night is timeless and boundless.

Holy Sleep, gladden not too seldom the Night’s servant in everyday work.

The span of sleep is endless.

Only fools misunderstand you and know of no sleep except that shadow that in the half-light of genuine sleep you softly throw over us.

They aren’t aware of you in the nectar of the golden grape, in the almond tree’s marvelous oil, and in the brown juice of the poppy.

They don’t know you are that which lingers around the bosom of the tender maiden and makes a heaven in her lap; they have no idea that you open a path to Heaven from the Old Stories, and that you carry the key to the dwellings of the blessed,

O, silent bringer of endless secrets.

posted evening of Friday, July 29th, 2011
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