Friday, January 26, 2007


Yet More on Sleep

Aurelian Isaïcq writes:

There is too a misanthropic quatrain from Michelangelo Buonarroti (Rima 247). For some reason I prefer the German translation (available at Gutenberg) to Symonds'. I also remember Shakespeare’s (similarly lack of) sleep sonnets xxvii and xxviii.

Rima 247:
Caro m'è 'l sonno, e più l'esser di sasso,
mentre che 'l danno e la vergogna dura;
non veder, non sentir m'è gran ventura;
però non mi destar, deh, parla basso.
John Addington Symonds (1878):
Sweet is my sleep, but more to be mere stone,
So long as ruin and dishonour reign;
To bear nought, to feel nought, is my great gain;
Then wake me not, speak in an undertone!
Sophie Hasenclever:
Schlaf ist mein Glück; so lange Schmach und Kummer
Auf Erden dauern, besser Stein zu bleiben,
Nicht sehn, nicht hören bei so schnödem Treiben.
Sprich leise drum und stör' nicht meinen Schlummer.
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tir'd;
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body's work's expired:
For then my thoughts--from far where I abide--
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new.
  Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
  For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.
How can I then return in happy plight,
That am debarr'd the benefit of rest?
When day's oppression is not eas'd by night,
But day by night and night by day oppress'd,
And each, though enemies to either's reign,
Do in consent shake hands to torture me,
The one by toil, the other to complain
How far I toil, still farther off from thee.
I tell the day, to please him thou art bright,
And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven:
So flatter I the swart-complexion'd night,
When sparkling stars twire not thou gild'st the even.
  But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
  And night doth nightly make grief's length seem stronger.

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