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Unread 05-13-2019, 01:30 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Default Heavenly Stained Glass 2/9 by G. de M.

This is the second paragraph 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 some spots that might be problematical, to make them easier to find in my translation, the original, and my literal prose crib.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

DRAFT TWO

     The entire church is an excuse for the triumph of the stained glass windows: it remains in gloom so that they may shine from on high, towering over the statues and that other otherworldly beauty: the votive lamps, within each of which dwells, faintly ruby, a devout soul. Dazzling and magnificent under full sun, the windows get charged with mystery at dusk, in the indecisive dawn, on wintery days. The rain extinguishes the multicolored flames and the hymn becomes a whispered secret. They are older that way, and their poetry nestles more intimately into the soul. To see them is to bathe in lustral water; like it, they purify us. A little of that light that comes from beyond this world congeals within our spirits. In the curve of their ogival arch, as if between the hooks of parentheses, imagination is suspended over reality. And the air, infused with plasma by their light-shafts, gets saturated with beauty—oxygen for the spirit.

Changes:
gloom was half-light; earlier it was semi-darkness
lustral water was a lustrous water (I thought I knew what "lustral" meant in English, but I didn't.)
A little of that light that comes was A little of that light which comes
as if between the hooks of parentheses was as if between parentheses
infused with plasma by their light-shafts was injected with plasma by their light-shafts

Notes:

The “tower over” sense of “dominar” in the first sentence of this passage was in the back of my mind when I was initially inclined to translate “dominar” as “to tower” in the second paragraph of G. de M.’s essay “The Stones of Notre Dame.” I’m still indecisive about that.

Nowadays, the votive candles in a church are not always placed within red glass containers--in my church, the glass is colorless, as were the ones in the famous Notre Dame post-fire photos...
https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/asse...xlarge-169.jpg
...although those were the pricey, multi-hour candles--there were also smaller ones in the side chapels, which I seem to recall as having been in red or amber glass. Anyway, I thought I should provide a link to illustrate what I think that “pale/faint ruby” color would have looked like to G. de M.:
https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/i...eG8pRkg59U5AWA
(People usually make a small donation to cover the cost of a candle they light to symbolize their private prayer. Generally not all of the candles are lit at the same time.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SPANISH ORIGINAL:

     Toda la iglesia es pretexto para el triunfo de los vitrales: está en penumbra para que luzcan en alto, dominando a las imágenes y a esa otra belleza extraterrestre: las lámparas, donde vive, pálido rubí, un alma devota. Rutilantes y magníficos bajo el sol, se cargan de misterio en el crepúsculo, en el alba indecisa, en los días hibernales. La lluvia apaga las llamas versicolores y el himno se vuelve confidencia. Son más viejos así y su poesía se acurruca más íntimamente en el alma. Verlos es bañarse en un agua lustral: como ella, nos purifican. En el espíritu se nos cuaja un poco de esa luz que viene de fuera del mundo. En la curva de su ojiva, como entre los garfios de un paréntesis, la imaginación se suspende sobre la realidad. Y el aire, inyectado de sangre pálida con sus dardos, se satura de belleza, oxígeno para el espíritu.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

LITERAL PROSE CRIB:

     All the church is a pretext for the triumph of the stained glass windows: it is in semi-darkness/half-light/penumbra in order that they may shine on high, (dominating/towering over) the images/statues and that other beauty extraterrestrial: the lamps where lives, pale ruby, a soul devoted. Dazzling/sparkling/scintillating and magnificent under the sun, they [the windows, not the votive lamps—I’ve made that more explicit in my translation] get charged with mystery in the dusk, in the sunrise indecisive, in the days wintery. The rain extinguishes the flames multicolored and the hymn becomes (a) secret/something confided. They are more old thus and their poetry nestles/snuggles more intimately into the soul. To see them is to bathe oneself in a water lustral: like it (a water lustral), us they (the windows) purify. In the spirit gets for us congealed/coagulated a little of that light that comes from outside of the world. In the curve of their/its (ogive/Gothic arch/pointed arch), as between the hooks of a parenthetical remark, the imagination gets suspended over the reality. And the air, injected with blood pale [I’m rendering this as “plasma”] with their/its darts, gets saturated with beauty, oxygen for the spirit.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

DRAFT ONE

     The entire church is an excuse for the triumph of the stained glass windows: it remains in semi-darkness, so that they may shine from on high, towering over the statues and that other otherworldly beauty: the votive lamps, within each of which dwells, faintly ruby, a devout soul. Dazzling and magnificent under full sun, the windows get charged with mystery at dusk, in the indecisive dawn, on wintery days. The rain extinguishes the multicolored flames and the hymn becomes a whispered confidence. They are older that way, and their poetry nestles more intimately into the soul. To see them is to bathe in a lustrous water; like it, they purify us. A little of that light which comes from beyond this world congeals within our spirits. In the curve of their ogival arch, as if between parentheses, imagination is suspended over reality. And the air, injected with plasma by their light-shafts, gets saturated with beauty—oxygen for the spirit.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 05-26-2019 at 08:46 PM. Reason: Draft Two
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