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Unread 05-24-2019, 05:16 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Default Heavenly Stained Glass 3-4/9 by G. de M.

These are the third through fourth paragraphs of a nine-paragraph essay by José María González de Mendoza (Mexico, 1893-1967), first published in 1924. The title of the essay is "Heavenly Stained Glass" ("Vitrales celestes," literally "Celestial stained glass windows").

I've color-coded spots that might be problematical, to make them easier to find in my translation, in the original, and in my literal prose crib.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

TRANSLATION:

     In the rose windows—the incomparable mystical roses of Our Lady of Paris, originating in the Litany of Loreto—the structure of openwork tracery supports a spiderweb adorned with the iridescence of dew and rainbowed by the rising sun. The stone, which backlighting turns into black lines, exists only as pretext for the color. The flimflamming wall stops being stone, in order to become jewel. The vaulted ceiling billows with a gossamer of color, very sheer. And with the passing of the clouds, in the alternation of brightness and gloom, the old stone gains color or loses it, as if a watchful eye were opening and closing within it….

     Perhaps the most beautiful stained glass window in the world is the Jesse Tree in the west façade of the Cathedral of Chartres. Like a ship in a dock, ensconced within a black background is a tall lancet window in which all blues melt together: turquoise dots, the intense sapphires of the sea at noon, the phantasmal hue of a glass fishbowl, the pale forget-me-nots and plumbagos cut out from a bit of Mexican sky, and what a daisy-eye stares at, and the silhouette of a far-off mountain… All the blues, made translucent, bounded by emerald lines, dotted here and there with blood and with wine, with dusky gold, with diaphanous bougainvilleas and with dark honey—all of that drowned in the blue water like the woodwinds of an orchestra in the clarity of the string section. Does that nutshell description give an idea of the beauty of stained glass? No, of course not. But then one has to content oneself with the eloquence of the Baedeker guide: “splendid coloration.”

Tweaks:
has the billowing of a gossamer of color, very sheer was billows with a gauzy fabric of color, very sheer
gains color or loses it was becomes vibrantly colored or fades
as if a watchful eye were opening and closing within it was as if within it a gaze were opening and closing; before that it was as if within it a gaze were blinking open and closed
cut out from a bit of Mexican sky was briefly set off against a bit of Mexican sky
and what a daisy-eye stares at was —what a daisy-eye gazes at
bounded by emerald lines was linked by emerald lines

Notes on the flowers:
Here are links to the blues of forget-me-nots, plumbago, and kingfisher daisy (although I had originally thought that G. de M. was more likely to be referring to the blue sky that an ordinary daisy's eye looks at, rather than the blue petals of this less common daisy).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SPANISH ORIGINAL:

     En las rosas —incomparables rosas místicas de Nuestra Señora de París, salidas de la letanía lauretana— la calada armadura sostiene una arácnea tela bordada con el aljófar de rocío e irisada por el sol naciente. La piedra, que la contraluz vuelve líneas negras, sólo existe como pretexto para el color. El muro tramposo deja de ser piedra, para volverse joya. La bóveda se hincha de una gasa de color muy transparente. Y al paso de las nubes, en las alternativas de la claridad y de penumbra, la vieja piedra se colorea o palidece, cual si en ella se abriera y cerrara una mirada

     Acaso el más bello vitral del mundo sea el Árbol de Jessé en la fachada Oeste de la Catedral de Chartres. Tal un navío en un dique, se incrusta en un fondo negro una alta lanceta donde se funden todos los azules: las turquesas lunares, los zafiros intensos del mar al mediodía, el tono fantasmal de un vidrio de acuario, los pálidos myosotis, y los plúmbagos recortados en un pedacito de cielo mexicano, y la mirada de margarita, y la silueta de una montaña lejana... Todos los azules, hechos transparentes, alineados por líneas de esmeralda, punteados aquí y allá de sangre y de vino, de oro crepuscular, de bugambilias diáfanas y de oscura miel, todo ello anegado en el agua azul como las maderas de una orquesta en la claridad del quatuor de cuerdas. ¿Da esa descripción somera una idea de la belleza del vitral? No, por supuesto. Pues entonces hay que contentarse con la elocuencia del Baedeker: 'colorido soberbio'.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

LITERAL ENGLISH PROSE CRIB

     In the rose windows—the incomparable mystical roses of Our Lady of Paris, originating in the Laurentian Litany (Litany of Loreto)—the lacy/tracery armament supports a spiderweb embroidered with the nacre/mother-of-pearl of dew and made iridescent by the rising sun. The stone, which backlighting turns into black lines, exists only as pretext for the color. The deceitful/fraudulent wall stops being stone, in order to become jewel. The vaulted ceiling swells/billows with a gauze of color, very transparent. And with the passing of the clouds, in the alternation of brightness and penumbra/half-light/semi-darkness/gloom, the old stone becomes colorful or fades, as if in/on it were opening and closing a gaze/stare….

     Perhaps the most beautiful stained glass window in the world is the Jesse Tree in the west façade of the Cathedral of Chartres. Like a ship in a dock, ensconced within a black background is a tall lancet window in which all blues melt together: turquoise moles/freckles/polka dots, the intense sapphires of the sea at noon, the phantasmal hue of a glass fishbowl, the pale forget-me-nots, and the plumbagos cut out/outlined (link to a dictionary entry for the participle "recortado") in a bit of Mexican sky, and the gaze/stare of daisy, and the silhouette of a far-off mountain… All the blues, made translucent, aligned/linked/row-arranged (link to a dictionary entry for the participle "alineado") by means of lines of emerald, dotted here and there with blood and with wine, with dusky/crepuscular gold, with diaphanous bougainvilleas and with dark honey, all drowned (link to dictionary entry for "anegar") in the blue water like the woodwind instruments of an orchestra in the clarity of the quartet of strings. Does that summary description give an idea of the beauty of the stained glass window? No, of course. But then one has to content oneself with the eloquence of the Baedeker: “superb/splendid coloration.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 05-27-2019 at 01:16 AM. Reason: Assorted tweaks
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