ASIAN 224 'Traditions of Poetry in India'

RV 10.129 Creation (tr. by W.H. Maurer, 1986)

1. Not non-existent was it nor existent was it at that time; there was not atmosphere nor the heavens which are beyond. What existed? Where? In whose care? Water was it? An abyss unfathomable?

2. Neither mortal was there nor immortal then; not of night, of day was there distinction: That alone breathed windless through inherent power. Other than That there was naught else.

3. Darkness it was, by darkness hidden in the beginning: an undistinguished sea was all this. The germ of all things which was enveloped in void, That alone through the power of brooding thought was born.

4. Upon That in the beginning arose desire, which was the first offshoot of that thought. This desire sages found out to be the link between the existent and the non-existent, after serching with the wisdom in their heart.

5. Straight across was extended their line of vision: was That below, was That above? Seed-placers there were; powers there were: potential energy below; impulse above.

6. Who, after all, knows? Who here will declare whence it arose, whence this world? Subsequent are the gods to the creation of this world. Who, then, knows whence it came into being?

7. This world - whence it came into being, whether it was made or whether not - He who is its overseer in the highest heavens surely knows - or perhaps He knows not!

T'ien wen ("Questions of Heaven" - a Fourth Cent. BCE Chinese account of creation)
(chapt. 3 in ch'u tz'u (Songs of Ch'u) ,from Birrell 1993.31)

1. It says: At the beginning of remote antiquity, who was there to pass down the tale of what happened?

2. And before the upper and lower worlds were formed, how could they be explored?

3. Since darkness and light were hidden and closed, who could fathom them?

4. In the formless expanse when there were only images, how could anyone know what they were?

5. When were brightness and gloom created?

6. Yin and Yang commingled three times; what was their original form and how were they transformed?

7. The round sphere and its ninefold gates, who planned and measured them?

8. Whose achievement was this? Who first created them?

9. How are Dipper's Ladle and the Cord fastened, and how were the poles of the sky linked?

10. Why do the eight pillars lean to the southeast and why is there a fault?

11. Where are the ends of the Nine Skies situated and where do they join up?

12. Their corners and edges are so many that who knows what they number?

13. How do the heavens coordinate the twelve divisions?

14. How are the sun and moon connected? How are the serried stars arranged?

Genesis (tr. by order of King James)

1.1. In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth.

1.2. And the Earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

1.3. And God said, 'Let there be light.' And there was light.

1.4. And God saw the light, that it was good. And God divided the light from the darkness.

1.5. And God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

1.6. And God said, 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.'

1.7. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so.

1.8. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

1.9. And God said, !uet the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.!uAnd it was so.

1.10. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas. And God saw that it was good.

1.11. And God said, !uet the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after its kind. And God saw that it was good.

1.12. And the earth brought forth grass and herb yielding seed after its kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after its kind. And God saw that it was good.

1.13. And the evening and the morning were the third day. ...

1.14. And God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

1.15. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

1.16. And God made two great lights; and the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

1.17. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

1.18. And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

1.19. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

1.20-3. Day 5: God makes fish, whales, and birds, blesses them and asks them to be fruitful and multiply.

1.24-5. Day 6: God makes the animals.

1.26. And God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

1.27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

1.28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

1.29. And God said, 'Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat (=food).

1.30. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

1.31. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

2.1. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

2.2. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all the work which he had made.

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