#52 – Jorge Ben – Hermes Trismegisto e sua celeste tábua de esmeralda

from A Tábua de Esmeralda (Philips, 1974)

Original lyrics:

Hermes Trismegisto e sua celeste tábua de esmeralda

Hermes Trismegisto escreveu
com uma ponta de diamante em uma lâmina de esmeralda

O que está embaixo é como o que está no alto,
e o que está no alto é como o que está embaixo.

E por essas coisas fazem-se os milagres de uma coisa só.
E como todas essas coisas são e provêm de um
pela mediação do um,
assim todas as coisas são nascidas desta única coisa por adaptação.

O sol é seu pai, a lua é a mãe.
O vento o trouxe em seu ventre.
A terra é seu nutriz e receptáculo.

O Pai de tudo, o Thelemeu do mundo universal está aqui.
O Pai de tudo, o Thelemeu do mundo universal está aqui.

Sua força ou potência está inteira,
se ela é convertida em terra.

Tu separarás a terra do fogo e o sutil do espesso,
docemente, com grande desvelo.
Pois Ele ascende da terra e descende do céu
e recebe a força das coisas superiores
e das coisas inferiores.

Tu terás por esse meio a glória do mundo,
e toda obscuridade fugirá de ti.
e toda obscuridade fugirá de ti.

É a força de toda força,
pois ela vencerá qualquer coisa sutil
e penetrará qualquer coisa sólida.
Assim, o mundo foi criado.
Disso sairão admiráveis adaptações,
das quais aqui o meio é dado.

Por isso fui chamado Hermes Trismegistro,
Por isso fui chamado Hermes Trismegistro,

tendo as três partes da filosofia universal.
tendo as três partes da filosofia universal.

O que disse da Obra Solar está completo.
O que disse da Obra Solar está completo.

Hermes Trismegisto escreveu com uma ponta de diamante em uma lâmina de esmeralda (2x).
This is the high-point on the album, the song from where the album takes its title and, yet, I won’t translate it here. Why? Because there is already a translation of this song. How? Let me explain.

I have already tried to outline of the Hermetic philosophy here and I think I’ve mentioned that it was deeply related to alchemy. Alchemy’s chief text is this piece here, known in its Latin name as the Tabula Smaragdina, or Emerald Tablet. The Emerald Tablet explains how alchemy is done.

Starting with the principle that there is a correspondence between everything in the universe, celestial and below, alchemy holds that one thing can be changed into another. Alchemy proceeds by separating the diverse elements and then adapting those different elements into different configurations. Usually this was done with some chemical apparatuses, using fire, air, or other of the primordial elements. By making this, the alchemist gathers a holding on the constitution of things, becoming a kind of a master of Nature.

There is one point of contention here — which can be seen in the translation — which is the so-called thelema, rendered by Jorge Ben as thelemeu. The thelema would be the principle that makes the transition from one element into another possible. It would be a dynamic fluid that holds all things together. The contention is if the thelema was another element besides air, fire, etc. or a completely different thing. That doesn’t seem to bother Jorge Ben too much.

Anyway, the Emerald Tablet was originally an Arabic text and then was translated into Latin and other languages. In English, it received a translation by Isaac Newton (yes, that Isaac Newton) and there is another translation in the 17th century. I’ll post both here, which are as follow:

– Isaac Newton’s translation

  1. Tis true without lying, certain & most true.
  2. That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing
  3. And as all things have been & arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation.
  4. The Sun is its father, the moon its mother, the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth is its nurse.
  5. The father of all perfection in the whole world is here.
  6. Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.
  7. Separate thou the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross sweetly with great industry.
  8. It ascends from the earth to the heaven & again it descends to the earth & receives the force of things superior & inferior.
  9. By this means you shall have the glory of the whole world
  10. & thereby all obscurity shall fly from you.
  11. Its force is above all force. For it vanquishes every subtle thing & penetrates every solid thing.
  12. So was the world created.
  13. From this are & do come admirable adaptations whereof the means (or process) is here in this. Hence I am called Hermes Trismegist, having the three parts of the philosophy of the whole world
  14. That which I have said of the operation of the Sun is accomplished & ended.

– The 17th century translation published on the Theatrum Alchemicum (1613)

  1. This is true and remote from all cover of falsehood
  2. Whatever is below is similar to that which is above. Through this the marvels of the work of one thing are procured and perfected.
  3. Also, as all things are made from one, by the [consideration] of one, so all things were made from this one, by conjunction.
  4. The father of it is the sun, the mother the moon. The wind bore it in the womb. Its nurse is the earth, the mother of all perfection.
  5. Its power is perfected. If it is turned into earth,
  6. Separate the earth from the fire, the subtle and thin from the crude and [coarse], prudently, with modesty and wisdom.
  7. This ascends from the earth into the sky and again descends from the sky to the earth, and receives the power and efficacy of things above and of things below.
  8. By this means you will acquire the glory of the whole world,
  9. And so you will drive away all shadows and blindness.
  10. For this by its fortitude snatches the palm from all other fortitude and power. For it is able to penetrate and subdue everything subtle and everything crude and hard.
  11. By this means the world was founded
  12. And hence the marvelous conjunctions of it and admirable effects, since this is the way by which these marvels may be brought about.
  13. And because of this they have called me Hermes Tristmegistus since I have the three parts of the wisdom and philosophy of the whole universe.
  14. My speech is finished which I have spoken concerning the solar work

There is also the Latin translation which is the basis for all of the translations above:

  1. Verum, sine mendacio, certum et verissimum:
  2. Quod est inferius est sicut quod est superius, et quod est superius est sicut quod est inferius, ad perpetranda miracula rei unius.
  3. Et sicut res omnes fuerunt ab uno, meditatione unius, sic omnes res natae ab hac una re, adaptatione.
  4. Pater eius est Sol. Mater eius est Luna, portavit illud Ventus in ventre suo, nutrix eius terra est.
  5. Pater omnis telesmi[12] totius mundi est hic.
  6. Virtus eius integra est si versa fuerit in terram.
  7. Separabis terram ab igne, subtile ab spisso, suaviter, magno cum ingenio.
  8. Ascendit a terra in coelum, iterumque descendit in terram, et recipit vim superiorum et inferiorum.
  9. Sic habebis Gloriam totius mundi.
  10. Ideo fugiet a te omnis obscuritas.
  11. Haec est totius fortitudinis fortitudo fortis, quia vincet omnem rem subtilem, omnemque solidam penetrabit.
  12. Sic mundus creatus est.
  13. Hinc erunt adaptationes mirabiles, quarum modus est hic. Itaque vocatus sum Hermes Trismegistus, habens tres partes philosophiae totius mundi.
  14. Completum est quod dixi de operatione Solis.

As you can see, Jorge Ben’s song is an exact translation of the Emerald Tablet. I don’t know if he just composed the music to an already existing Portuguese translation or if he translated it himself from some modern language. It is interesting, nonetheless, to see Jorge Ben and Isaac Newton on the same page!

Jorge Ben’s song has a little introduction in which he just states that “Hermes Trismegistus wrote on an emerald tablet using a diamond stylus”.

And below you can see an artistic rendition of the Emerald Tablet from a book by Heinrich Khunrath in the 17th century.

800px-Emerald_tabletPS: you may have noticed that I’ve skipped two songs on A Tábua de Esmeralda, “Zumbi” and “Brother”. I did that because the former was already translated here, and the latter was composed in English.