some are born to Endless night

< Previous | Next >

egorca

New Member
Russian
Hello.

I hesitate about understanding this William Blake's piece:
"Some are born to sweet delight
Some are born to Endless night"

<< As Far As I Know >>, "X born to Y" means that Y gave birth to X, for instance "John was born to Marie and George".

There's popular russian translation to this peace
<<Russian passage deleted>>
which basically means some are born for endless night, i.e. somebody is born and the Endless night become a part of him, he experiences it.

I understand the fact that it's a poetry and we can not always count on basic language rules there, we'd rather look for feeling of the word, the form it takes and all. And the poem was written in early 1800's, maybe the language was different there.

(Edited to delete the Russian translation. Sorry, but in English Only, it's English only. :))
(Edited to expand AFAIK. Please do not use abbreviations in this forum. <panjandrum>)
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • JustKate

    Senior Member
    I think it's fair to say that "born to" is still current. It means that from birth, some experience sweet delight while others experience endless night. That particular part of the poem doesn't sound outdated or old-fashioned to me.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Born for is idiomatic as well. The two phrases have meanings that are similar, but not quite identical, at least not to my ear.

    Born for means "born for the purpose of." So someone is born for a specific calling or purpose. That is the particular thing they were meant to do. Someone who wins the lottery and enjoys spending all that money might say "I was born for this," meaning "I was meant to be wealthy. Being wealthy is what fate or God or whatever intended me to be."

    Born to means "born into a particular condition." If you're born to wealth, you're born wealthy.
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Some are born to sweet delight = "Some are born into a life of sweet delight"
    Some are born to Endless night" = "Some are born into a life of Endless night"

    AFAIK, "X born to Y" means that Y gave birth to X, for instance "John was born to Marie and George". -> It is a mistake to think that all prepositions have only one meaning or nuance.

    He was born to Marie and George
    He was born to play football
    He was born to riches
    He was born to cheering crowds.
    he was born to her surprise.

    All are different.
     

    egorca

    New Member
    Russian
    > It is a mistake to think that all prepositions have only one meaning or nuance.
    Wow, I shall defend, sir. Of course it is. But it has nothing to do with me. If I thought so, there wasn't a thread like this one, was it? :) Speaking about one meaning: could that be something like play-on-words in these lines?

    "to her surprise" that's a good example.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    I don't think Blake was attempting a play on words; I think he meant "sweet delght" and "endless night" are the respective destinies of some people and of others, like "born to wealth" (JK).
     

    egorca

    New Member
    Russian
    I don't think Blake was attempting a play on words; I think he meant "sweet delght" and "endless night" are the respective destinies of some people and of others, like "born to wealth" (JK).
    Hi. I meant playing on "born to". Like to give to it some hidden meaning, i.e. "born to experience Endless night" and "someone's born by Endless night". I agree that these phrases have the meanings given by you. I was wondering if their roles could be not strictly certain. :)
    Something like "Salvation lies within" in "The Shawshank Redemption".
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Hi. I meant playing on "born to". Like to give to it some hidden meaning, i.e. "born to experience Endless night" and "someone's born by Endless night". I agree that these phrases have the meanings given by you. I was wondering if their roles could be not strictly certain. :)
    They certainly aren't "strict." I perceive a difference, but it's fairly subtle, and there is definitely some overlap.

    That said, I really do like "born to" much better in this context. I think Blake got it right (not that he needs my endorsement :)).
     

    egorca

    New Member
    Russian
    Yeah, I beg my pardon if I tried to overthink that one. I'm fine with poetry speaking of my native, but if it comes to foreign - it completely takes my head off me. Yet, I believe.

    Russians have a little joke about it (of course it is slightly hyperbolic):
    "Teacher: There's a blue curtain hangs by the window. What did author want to say by this?
    Student: I guess it personifies a lightness, a freedom.
    Author: Sometimes a blue curtain is just a blue curtain."

    Thanks again to everybody :)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top