• Oh, do not sleep, friend

A retweet by @jonyardley yesterday of an aphoristic line from the Persian mystic poet Jalal’ad-Din Rumi (1207-73) jolted me into a moment of minor revelation about another Rumi text.  I’ve known and loved Szymanowski’s Third Symphony ‘Song of the Night’ (1916) for many years.  It sets verse from Rumi’s Second Divan, in a double-translation (from Persian to German to Polish).  This is one of the great pæans to the universe and to friendship.  Yet I had never made the connection between these lines and the Tuwim poem Song of Joy and Rhythm which inspired Górecki and which I posted ten days ago.  The two poets share the same sense of wonderment and, ultimately, a silence in the face of the marvel of the night sky.  The major difference is that, while Tuwim is alone and content in his human solitude, Rumi wishes to share his ecstatic vision.

So here is that verse, taken from the printed score.  I’ve made one or two tweaks, for example replacing their ‘Sagittarius and the Virgin’ with the original phrase, in both the German and Polish versions, ‘Andromeda and Mercury’.  I have also blocked it out according to the paragraphing in Szymanowski’s setting, as well as leaving out some repetition of lines.  The Czerniawscy translation fits the music at times crudely (for example, the first five syllables), not that it’s ever sung in English, I suspect.  I would be very interested if anyone knows of a direct English translation from the original Persian.

English version
translated by Ann and Adam Czerniawscy

Oh, do not sleep, friend, through this night.
You a soul, while we are suffering through this night.

Banish slumber from your eyes!
The great secret is revealed in this night.
You are Jove in the high heavens,
Round heav’n’s starry dome you circle, in this night.
Like an eagle fly above!
Now a hero is your soul in this night!

Such quiet, others sleep …
I and God alone together in this night.
What a roar!  Joy arises!
Truth with gleaming wing is shining in this night!

[Oh, do not sleep, friend,]
If I slumbered until sunrise,
I should never, never see this night again!
Thorough-fares, on earth are silent.
There behold the starry roads of this night!
Leo, Orion,
Andromeda and Mercury
Gleam blood-red through this night!
Saturn binds with fateful powers,
Venus floats in golden rain through this night.

Silence binds my tongue with fetters,
But I speak though tongueless in this night!

Polish version
translated by Tadeusz Miciński

O, nie śpij, druhu, nocy tej.
Tyś jest Duch, a myśmy cjorzy nocy tej.

Odpędź z oczu Twoich sen!
Tajemnica się rozwidni nocy tej!
Tyś jest Jowisz na niebiosach,
Wśród gwiazd krążysz firmamentu nocy tej!
Nad otchłanie orła pędź!
Bohaterem jest Twój Duch nocy tej!

Jak cicho, inni śpią …
Ja i Bóg jesteśmy sami nocy tej!
Jaki szum!  Wchodzi szczęście,
Prawda skrzydłem opromienia nocy tej!

[O, nie śpij, druhu,]
Gdybym przespał aż do ranka,
Już bym nigdy nie odzyskał nocy tej!
Targowiska już ucichły.
Patrz na rynek gwiezdanych dróg nocy tej!
Lew i Orion,
Andromeda i Merkury krwawo lśni nocy tej!
Wpływ złowieszczy miota Saturn
Wenus p łynie w złotym dżdżu nocy tej!

Zamilknięciem wiążę język,
Lecz ja mówię bez języka nocy tej!

German version
translated by Hans Bethge

Schlaf nicht, Gefährte, diese Nacht.
Du bist Geist, wir sind die Kranken diese Nacht.

Jag den Schlaf von deinem Aug’!
Das Geheimnis wird sich klären dies Nacht.
Du bist Jupiter am Himmel,
Kreist als Stern am Firmamente diese Nacht!
Gleich dem Adler flieg hinauf!
Sieh, zum Helden wird dein Geist diese Nacht.

Wie stille ist’s, alles schläft …
Ich und Gott, wir sind allein diese Nacht!
Wie es saust!  Geht das Glück auf!
Wahrheit füllt mit lichtem Flügel diese Nacht!

[Schlaf nicht, Gefährte,]
Wurd ich schlafen bis zum Morgen,
Säh’ ich niemals, niemals wieder diese Nacht!
Sind verstimmt der Erde Straßen,
Blick empor zur Sternenbahn diese Nacht!
Löwe, Orion,
Andromeda, Merkurer glänzen rot diese Nacht!
Dort droht Unheil von Saturnus,
Venus schwingt den goldnen Schleier diese Nacht!

Scheigen bindet mir die Zunge,
Dennoch red’ ich ohne Zunge diese Nacht!

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