Monday, August 25, 2014

Le Poème de l'Extase op. 54 (Alexander Scriabin)




Alexander Scriabin: the Poem of Ecstasy (English translation by Faubion Bowers)

(See the original here.)

   Spirit,
Winged with the thirst for life,
Is drawn into flight
On the summits of negation.
There, under the rays of its dream,
Emerges a magical world
Of heavenly forms and feelings
  Spirit playing.
  Spirit desiring.
Spirit creating all with a dream.
Surrenders to the bliss of love.
Amid the rising creations
It dwells in languor,
  From the height of inspiration
Calls them to flower.
And drunken with soaring
It is ready to sink into oblivion.
  But suddenly . . .
Trembling presentiments
Of dark rhythm
Break rudely into
This enchanted world,
  But only for an instant.
With light increase
Of divine will
It dispels
Frightening phantoms.
And it attained
Only desired victory
Over itself.
  Spirit playing,
  Spirit caressing,
Spirit calling hope of joy
Surrenders to the bliss of love.
Amid the flowers of its creation,
It lingers with a kiss
Over a whole world of titillation
Summons it to ecstasy.
Intoxicating it with beauty
It is transported, it tiptoes,
Dances and whirls;
With a whole range of sensations
It is tormented, wearied.
Ready to sink into oblivion
  But again . . .

From mysterious wombs
The spirit confused
A formless host
Of savage terrors
Rises stormily
In menacing waves;
It threatens
All to submerge.

  Spirit,
Winged with the thirst for life,
Is drawn into flight
On the summits of negation.
There, under the rays of its dream,
Emerges a magical world
Of heavenly forms and feelings.
  Spirit playing,
  Spirit suffering,
Spirit creating grief by doubt
Succumbs to love’s torment
Mid the flowers of its creations
It lingers in torment,
  With whole earth shakings,
Calls them to death.
Seized with fear,
It is ready to sink into oblivion
  But then . . .
Bright presentiments
Of shining rhythms
Awake within it.
Sweet moment!
With rays of hope
Radiant again
It burns for life.
And marvelously attained
Is the power
  Of divine will.
It pierces
The dark abysses
With glowing glances,
It shouts with rage
And fury . . .
The battle blazes.
Yawning caverns
Of monster mouths
Flash menacingly
Passionate lightning streaks
Of divine will,
  All-conquering;
Radiant reflections
Of magical light
  Illuminate the world.

  Spirit,
Forgetting the beloved goal,
Drunkenly yields the struggle.
All enraptured,
Fully delighted
With free
Godlike play
The struggle of love.
In the divine loftiness
Of pure aimlessness,
In combining
Opposing desires
In single awareness,
One love.
Spirit learns
Its divine essence.
It knows that
Which desired struggle;
It desires only,
  And events
  Assembled round
  This wish
In harmonious order
Capricious emotion.
  Spirit,
Playing, changing
Vibrates the universe
Explaining
Affirming.
Desirous of victories,
It was victorious,
It is triumphant!
And to its beloved realm,
Joyous, it can return now.
But what darkens
The glorious moment?

ALAS!
IT HAS ATTAINED ITS PURPOSE.
It longs for past struggle.
Instantly it feels
Boredom, melancholy and emptiness.

But with thirst of life,
Again it is winged
Is drawn into flight
On the summits of negation.
There, under the rays of its dream
Emerges a magical world
Of heavenly forms and feelings.
And tormented by nothing
It can eternally
Surrender to
Favored dreaming

But why, O rebellious Spirit,
Again is Thy rest perturbed?
No disturbing rhythm
Overshadows Thee,
No dreadful phantoms
Haunt.
Only monotony’s
Infecting poison,
The maggot of satiety
Devours feeling
With sickly cry
The universe resounds:
  Something else!
  The new!
Wearied of pleasure
Worn with pleasure
But not with life,
Spirit lifts into flight
To the kingdoms of grief and suffering.
And in its free return
To the world of dream and of excitement
It comprehended miraculously
The idea of evil’s
Mysterious abysses.
Again the dark caverns
Gape open
Again the mouths threaten to swallow
Again battle,
The girding of will
The wish to conquer all.
Again victory, again intoxication,
  And rapture
  And satiety.
With this increasing rhythm
Beats the pulse of stronger life!
O my world, my life,
My blossoming, my ecstasy!
Your moments each by each
I create by negation
Of earlier experience.
  I am forever
  Negation
  Again and
  Ever anew!
  More powerful
  More tender,
  New torture,
  Fresh beatitude.

Delighting in this dance,
Choking in its vortex.
Unmindful of goals
Beloved aspirations
Spirit surrenders to playful
  drunkenness.
On powerful wings
  It speeds
Into realms of new discovery
Of Ecstasy.

In this endless change,
In this purposeless, godlike flight
  Spirit comprehends itself
  By its might of will.
  Alone, free
  Ever-creating.
  All-illuminating
  All-lifegiving
  Divine play
  In multiplicity of forms:
It knows itself
As the palpitation of life,
The wish to burgeon
In the struggle of love.
  Spirit playing
  Spirit fluttering
     By its enduring longing
  Creating Ecstasy
Gives itself up to Love’s thrill
Mid the flowers of its creations
It lives in freedom.

“I summon you to life,
Hidden longings!
  You, sunken
  In the somber depths
  Of creative spirit,
  You timid embryos
  Of life,
  To you I bring
  Daring!

Now, you are free!
Fragment and flower
Separately
Rise up one against another
Flee to the summits
That in sweetest bliss
You may know all your oneness
Annihilated within me!
Rise up one against another,
Strike against me,
Negate your love!
Turn against me, all people and
  elements,
All horrors lift up your heads
Try to destroy me,
Caverns of dragons’ mouths
Serpents twist round me
Constrict me and bite me!

When all rises
  Against me,
  Then I begin
  My
  Play.

O waiting world,
Weary world!
You are thirsting to be created
You see the creator.
Your tender sweet sigh,
  Calling
Has been wafted to me.
  I will come.
Already I dwell in you
O world of mine!

With mysterious delights
Of unknown feelings,
With myriads of dream and vision,
With inspiration’s flame
With Truth seeking,
With the forbidden wish
Of divine freedom.
O my beloved world,
  I shall come.
Your dream of me
Is being born
It is I.
Already I am manifest
In mysterious presence
  A barely perceptible
  Breath of freedom.
  Lightly,
  A wisp of dream
  The wave
Of my being
Has already seized you.
You are quivering already
I am your beloved freedom,
You my beloved world!

  I am come
  To dazzle you
  With the marvel
  Of enchantment repeated;
  I bring you
  The magical shiver
  Of scorching love
And unimaginable caresses.
Surrender to me in all faith!
I will drown you in oceans of bliss
And beloved kisses
And great heaving waves
But in our remoteness playing
Only the spray
Envelopes you
And you insanely desire
  Something else!
  The new!

And then in torrents of flowers
I will lie upon you
With aromas and scents
I will bask languidly
In this play of fragrance
Now tender, now sharp
In the play of touches,
Now soft, now harsh
And sinking into passion
You will
  Whisper:
  Again and
  Ever again!

Then I will plunge
With a horde of fearsome monsters
With savage torment and terror
I will crawl upon you with venomous
     nests of snakes
And will bite and choke you!
And you will want me
More madly, more passionately.
Then I will lie upon you
Under rays of celestial suns
And you will burn with the fires
  Of my emotion
  The holy
  Flames of desire
  For the sweetest,
  The most forbidden,
  Most mysterious.

And all of you is a single wave
Of liberty and joy.
Multiplicity has created you.
Legions of feelings
Have elevated you
O pure desires,
I create you,
This complex unity
  This feeling of bliss
Seizing you completely.
I am the instant illuminating eternity
  I am the affirmation.
  I am Ecstasy.”

  The universe
  Is embraced in flames
Spirit at the summit of its being
Feels
Endless tides
Of divine power
Of free will
Emboldened,
That which menaced
  Is now seduction.
That which frightened
  Is now pleasure.
And the bites of panther and hyena
  Are new caresses
  And the serpent’s sting
Is but a burning kiss.

And thus the universe resounds
  With a joyful cry
  I AM!

Poem By: Alexander Scriabin
Translation By: Faubion Bowers

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Kecharitomene

Kecharitomene: music and musings, with many possible layers of meanings, composed and performed by Loreena McKennit.

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