Saturday, September 10, 2011

On My Candle Burning Out

Heiman Dullaart (1639-1684), was a student of Rembrandt van Rijn, who has come to be better known for his poetry than his paintings.

Heiman Dullaart, On My Candle Burning Out (trans. by Frank J. Warnke, in Harold B. Segel, ed., The Baroque Poem: A Comparative Survey, p. 161):

O rapidly extinguished candle flame,
Since thou dost fail me in my busy search
For useful knowledge hid in volumes rich
For the eye which lust of knowing still doth claim.
Supply me with a book wherein to learn
My life's too brief and quickly running hour:
A lesson which the virtuous heart may pour
Into the heart of him who can discern.
Emblem which doth our transient life define,
Thou chok'st in darkness as thy light doth die,
But I through death from our my darkness fly
To the unquench'd light which doth in Heaven shine.

Heiman Dullaart, On My Candle, About to Burn Out (Martijn Zwart & Ethel Grene, Dutch Poetry in Translation: Kaleidoscope, p. 75):

O candle with your near-extinguished flame! You try
Your best to help me as I diligently look
To glean some wisdom out of every learned book,
So richly laden for a scholar's greedy eye;
And you give me a book that teaches me to start
To see these last hours of the mortal life I live,
A basic lesson that a virtuous heart could give
If an attentive man would take it to his heart.
But, living symbol of this fleeting life of mine,
You smother in the darkness with your light's last breath;
While I shall go out from my darkness now through death
To Heaven's quenchless light, that shall forever shine.

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