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Multatuli - The prayer of the unknowing 
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Post Multatuli - The prayer of the unknowing
At Dutch class, we briefly discussed this poem by Multatuli. I will translate it for you (as good as I can) and I hope to get a discussion started about this. It is a poem concerning atheism.

HET GEBED VAN DEN ONWETENDE.
[The prayer of the unknowing]

Ik weet niet of we zyn geschapen met 'n doel,
Of maar by toeval daar zyn. Ook niet of een God
Of... Goden zich vermaken met ons leed, en schimpen
Op de onvolkomenheid van ons bestaan. Als dit zo waar'
Zou 't vreeselyk zyn! Aan wien de schuld
Dat zwakken zwak zyn, kranken krank en dommen dom?

[I don't know if we are created with a goal
Or be there by accident. Neither if a God
Or... Gods entertain themselves with our grief, and jeer
On the imperfection of our existence. If this so were,
It would be terrible! Whom to blame
That the weak are weak, the sick are sick and the stupid stupid?]


Wanneer we zyn gemaakt met opzet, met 'n doel.
En door onze onvolkomenheid dat niet bereiken...
Dan valt de blaam van al 't verkeerde op ons niet,
Op 't maaksel niet... maar op den Maker ! Noem hem ZEUS,
Of JUPITER, JEHOVAH, BAAL, DJAU... om 't even:
Hy is er niet, of hy moet GOED zyn, en vergeven,
Dat wy hem niet begrypen. 't Stond aan hem
Zich te openbaren, en dit deed hy niet ! Had hy 't gedaan,
Hy hadde 't zoo gedaan, dat niemand twyflen kon,
Dat ieder zeide: ik ken hem, voel hem, en versta hem. *)

[When we are made on purpose, with a goal
And by our imperfection don't achieve it...
The blame of all the wrong does not fall on us,
On the structure not... but on the Maker! Call him ZEUS,
Or JUPITER, JEHOVAH, BAAL, DJAU... it doesn't matter:
He is not there, or he must be GOOD, and forgiven,
That we do not understand him. 'T was up to him,
To emerge, and this he did not do! Had he done so,
He would have done so, that no one could doubt,
That everyone would say: I know him, feel him, and understand him.]


Wat anderen nu beweren van dien God te weten,
Baat my niet. Ik versta hem niet ! Ik vraag waarom
Hy zich aan anderen openbaarde, en niet aan my?
Is 't eene kind den vader meer naby dan 't andre?
Zoolang een menschenzoon dien God niet kent,
Zoolang is 't laster te geloven aan dien God!
't Kind dat vergeefs den vader aanroept doet geen kwaad...
De vader die vergeefs zyn kind laat roepen, handelt wreed.
En schooner is 't geloof: daar is geen vader,
Dan dat hy doof zou zyn voor z'n kind!

[What others now claim to know of that God,
Does not benefit me. I don't understand him! I ask why
He would emerge to others, and not to me?
Is the one child closer to the father than the other?
As long as a human son does not know this God,
That long is it slander to believe this God!
The child that calls the father in vain does not do wrong...
The father who lets his child call in vain, acts cruelly.
And more beautiful is the faith: there is no father,
Than that he would be deaf for his child!]


Misschien zyn we eenmaal wyzer! Eens misschien
Zien we in dat Hy er is. dat Hy ons gadesloeg,
En dat z'n zwygen oorzaak had, en grond. Welnu,
Zoodra wy 't weten, is de tyd van loven daar,
Maar eerder niet... thans niet! 't Zou God verdrieten,
Te ontwaren dat we hem aanbaden zonder grond,
En dwaasheid is 't, de donkere onwetendheid van heden
Te willen helder maken met een licht... dat nog niet schynt.

[Maybe once we will be wiser! Maybe once
We will see He is there. that he watched us,
And that his silence had cause, and ground. Well then,
As soon as we know it, the time of praise is there,
But no sooner... not now! 'T would hurt God,
To perceive we worshiped him without ground,
And folly 't is, the dark unknowing of now
Wanting to brighten with a light... that does not yet shine]


Hem dienen? Dwaasheid! Had Hy dienst begeerd,
Hy hadde ons geopenbaard op welke wys,
En ongerymd is 't, dat Hy van den mensch verwacht:
Aanbidding, dienst en lof... terwyl Hyzelf
Omtrent de wyze hoe, ons in 't onzekere liet.
Wanneer wy God niet dienen naar zyn zin...
Dan is 't Zyn schuld, Zyn schuld, en onze schuld is 't NIET!

[Serve him? Folly! Had he wanted service,
He would have revealed in which manner,
And 't is absurd, that He expects of the human:
Worship, service and praise... while He
left us in the dark, in which manner.
When we do not serve God to his will...
It is His fault, His fault, and NOT our fault!]


Intusschen - tot we wyzer zyn - is goed en kwaad dan een?

[In the meantime - until we are wiser - is good and evil then one?]

Ik zie niet in waartoe een God ons dient, in 't scheiden
Van 't booze en 't goede. Integendeel! Wie 't goede doet
Opdat een God hem loonen zou, maakt juist daardoor
Het goede tot iets kwaads, tot handel. En wie boosheid vliedt,
Uit vrees voor de ongenade van dien God is... laf!

[I do not see the purpose of a God, in seperating
The evil and the good. On the contrary! Who does good,
So that a God would reward him, makes through this
Good to something evil, to action. And who flies for anger,
Out of fear for the disgrace of this God is... cowardly!]


Ik ken u niet, o God! Ik riep U aan, ik zocht,
Ik smeekte om antwoord, en Gy zweegt! Ik wou zo graag
Uw wil doen... niet uit vrees voor straf, uit hoop op loon,
Maar zoals 't kind den wil zyns vader doet... uit liefde!
Gy zweegt... en alty zweegt Ge!
En ik dool rond, en hyg
Naar 't uur, waarop ik weten zal dat Gy bestaat...
Dan zal ik vragen: "Vader, waarom nu voor 't eerst
Uw kind getoond dat het een vader had,
En dat het niet alleen stond in den stryd,
Of waart Ge er zeker van, dat ik Uw wil zou doen
Ook zonder dien te kennen? Dat ik, onbewust
Van uw bestaan, U dienen zou, zoals Ge wilt gediend?
Zou 't waar zyn?
Antwoord, Vader, als Ge daar zyt, antwoord !
Laat niet Uw kind vertwyflen, Vader! Blyf niet stom
Op 't bloedig afgeperst laba sabachtani !

[I do not know you, o God! I called Thee, I searched,
I begged for an answer, and Thou were silent! I only wanted
To do your will... not out of fear for punishment, out of hope for reward,
But as the child does his father's will... out of love!
Thou were silent... and Thou art silent yet!
And I wandered, and pant
To the hour, on which I will know that Thou exists...
Then I will ask you: "Father, why now for the first time
Has Thou shone Thy child it had a father,
And that it was not alone in the battle,
Or were Thou sure, that I would do Thy will,
Even without knowing you? That I, unconscious
Of Thy existence, would serve Thee, as Thou had wanted?
Could this be?
Answer me, Father, if Thou art there, answer me!
Let not Thy child doubt, Father! Do not remain mum
On the bloody extorted laba sabachtani!]


Zo kermt de onwetende aan z'n zelfgekozen kruis,
En krimpt van pyn, en jammert dat hem dorst...

[Thus groans the unknowing on his self-chosen cross,
And hurts, and wails that he thirsts...]


De wyze - hy die wel weet... wel God kent - bespot den dwaas,
En rykt hem gal, en jubelt: "hoor, hy roept z'n vader!"
En prevelt: "dank, o Heer, dat ik niet ben als hy!"
En zingt 'n psalm: "welzalig hy die in der boozen raad
niet zit, en niet op 't vuile pad der zondaars gaat..."

[The wise - he who does know... does know God - mocks the fool,
And gives him bile, and cheers: "hear, he calls his father!"
And mumbles: "thank Thee, o Lord, that I am not like him!"
And sings a psalm: "well be he who in the evil advice
does not sit, and who does not enter the vile path of sinners..."]


De wyze... sluipt ter-beurse, en schachert integralen.

[The wise... sneaks aside, and laughs internally]

De vader zwygt... o God, er is geen God!

[The father remains silent... o God, there is no God!]


_________________
"I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind"
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"And without joy life doesn't deserve life's name"
- Desiderius Erasmus


Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:21 am
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Post Re: Multatuli - The prayer of the unknowing
Yes, I thought that as well. My teacher said: "We have all had these thoughts some time or another... we just didn't know how to verbalise them."


_________________
"I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind"
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"And without joy life doesn't deserve life's name"
- Desiderius Erasmus


Tue Dec 08, 2009 1:27 pm
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