Eleven Poems

 
ELEVEN POEMS OF
RUBÉN DARÍO
PUBLICATIONS OF
THE HISPANIC SOCIETY OF AMERICA
No. 105
Copyright, 1916, by
The Hispanic Society of America
Ruben Dario - Pax (Facsimil).jpg
FACSIMILE OF AUTOGRAPH POEM "PAX"




POEMS




Primaveral



Now is come the month of roses!
To the woods my verse has flown
Gathering fragrance and honey
From the blossoms newly blown.
Beloved, come to the forest,
The woodland shall be our shrine
Scented with the holy perfume
Of the laurel and the vine.
From tree-top to tree-top flitting
The birds greet you with sweet lay,
Finding joyance in your beauty
Fairer than the birth of day;
And the haughty oaks and hemlocks
Bend their leafy branches green
Forming rustling, regal arches
For the passage of a queen.
All is perfume, song and radiance;
Flowers open and birds sing:
O Beloved, 'tis the season
Of the Spring!

Flowing from a haunted cavern
Is a crystal fountain where
Naiads nude and flower-breasted

Bathe and play and freight the air
With the joyance of their laughter
And the gladness of the wave
When they stoop over the fountain
And their tresses 'gin to lave.
And they know the hymns of Eros
That in lovely Grecian tongue
Pan one day made in the forest
In the glorious age of song.
Sweetest, of that glorious hymnal
I shall choose the fairest phrase
To enrich with ancient music
The full cadence of my lays.
Sweet as sweetest Grecian honey
Will my song be when I sing,
O Beloved, in the season
Of the Spring!

Autumnal



In the pale afternoon the clouds go by
Aimlessly roving in the quiet sky.
His head between his hands, the dreamer weaves
His dream of clouds and Autumn-colored leaves.
Ah, his intimate sorrow, his long sighs.
And the glad radiance that has dimmed his eyes!
And all the tender glances, the blond tresses,
The rose hands over-brimming with caresses,
The sudden faces smiling everywhere
In the gold-dusted curtains of the air!

In the pale afternoon
A friendly faerie maiden comes to me
And tells me tales of many a secret thing
Fraught with the spell and music of the moon,
And I have learned what wonder the birds sing,
And what the breezes bring over the sea,
All that lies hidden in the mist or gleams,
A fleeting presence, in a young girl's dreams.

And once the thirst of infinite desire
Possessed me like a fever, and I said,
"I want to feel all radiance, fragrance, fire
And joy of life within me, to inspire
My soul forever!" And the faerie maid

Called me to follow her, and when she spoke
It was as if a harp to the soft stroke
Of loving hands had wakened suddenly:
She syllabled hope's language, calling me.

Oh, thirst for the ideal! From the height
Of a great mountain forested with night
She showed me all the stars and told their names;
It was a golden garden wherein grows
The fleur-de-lys of heaven, leaved with flames.
And I cried, "More!" and then the dawn arose.

The dawn came blushing; on her forehead beamed
Delicate splendor, and to me it seemed
A girl that, opening her casement, sees
Her lover watching her, and with surprise
Reddens but cannot hide her from his eyes.

And I cried, "More!" The faerie maiden smiled
And called the flowers, and the flowers were
Lovely and fresh and moist with essences,—
The virgin rose that in the woods grows wild,
The gentle lily tall and shy and fair,
The daisy glad and timid as a child,
Poppies and marigolds, and all the rare
Blossoms that freight with dreams the evening air.

But I cried, "More!" And then the winds brushed by
Bearing the laughter of the world, the cry
Of all glad lovers in the woods of Spring,
And echoes, and all pleasant murmuring

Of rustling leaf or southward-flying bird,
Unworded songs and musics never heard.
The faerie maiden, smiling, led me where
The sky is stretched over the world, above
Our heights and depths of hoping and despair,
Beyond the reach of singing and of love.
And then she tore the veil. And I saw there
That all was dawn. And in the deeps there beamed
A woman's Face radiant exceedingly.—
Ah, never, Muses, never could ye say
The holy joyance that enkindled me!—
"More? . . ." said the faerie in her laughing way;
But I saw the Face only. And I dreamed.



Portico



(Translated by Thomas Walsh)



I AM the singer who of late put by
The verse azulean and the chant profane,
Across whose nights a rossignol would cry
And prove himself a lark at morn again.

Lord was I of my garden-place of dreams,
Of heaping roses and swan-haunted brakes;
Lord of the doves; lord of the silver streams,
Of gondolas and lilies on the lakes.

And very eighteenth century; both old
And very modern; bold, cosmopolite;
Like Hugo daring, like Verlaine half-told,
And thirsting for illusions infinite.

From childhood it was sorrow that I knew;
My youth—was ever youth my own indeed?—
Its roses still their perfume round me strew,
Their perfume of a melancholy seed—

A rainless colt my instinct galloped free,
My youth bestrode a colt without a rein;
Intoxicate I went, a belted blade with me;
If I fell not—'twas God who did sustain.


Within my garden stood a statue fair,
Of marble seeming, yet of flesh and bone;
A gentle spirit was incarnate there
Of sensitive and sentimental tone.

So timid of the world, it fain would hide
And from its walls of silence issue not,
Save when the Spring released upon its tide
The hour of melody it had begot—

The hour of sunset and of hidden kiss;
The hour of gloaming twilight and retreat;
The hour of madrigal, the hour of bliss,
Of "I adore thee" and "Alas" too sweet.

And 'mid the gamut of the flute, perchance,
Would come a ripple of crystal mysteries,
Recalling Pan and his glad Grecian dance
With the intoning of old Latin keys,

With such a sweep, and ardor so intense,
That on the statue suddenly were born
The muscled goat-thighs shaggy and immense,
And on the brow the satyr's pair of horn.

As Gongora's Galatea, so in fine
The fair marquise of Verlaine captured me;
And so unto the passion half divine
Was joined a human sensuality;


All longing and all ardor, the mere sense
And natural vigor; and without a sign
Of stage effect or literature's pretence—
If there is ever a soul sincere—'tis mine.

The ivory tower awakened my desire;
I longed to enclose myself in selfish bliss,
Yet hungered after space, my thirst on fire
For heaven, from out the shades of my abyss.

As with the sponge the salt sea saturates
Below the oozing wave, so was my heart,—
Tender and soft,—bedrenched with bitter fates
That world and flesh and devil here impart.

But through the grace of God my conscience
Elected unto good its better part;
If there were hardness left in any sense
It melted soft beneath the touch of Art.

My intellect was freed from baser thought,
My soul was bathed in the Castalian flood,
My heart a pilgrim went, and so I caught
The harmony from out the sacred wood.

Oh, sacred wood! oh, rumor, that profound
Stirs from the sacred woodland's heart divine!
Oh, plenteous fountain in whose power is wound
And overcome our destiny malign!


Grove of ideals, where the real halts,
Where flesh is flame alive, and Psyche floats;
The while the satyr makes his old assaults,
Loose Philomel her azure drunken throats.

Fantastic pearl and music amorous
Adown the green and flowering laurel tops:
Hypsipyle stealthily the rose doth buss;
And the faun's mouth the tender stalking crops.

There where the god pursues the flying maid,
Where springs the reed of Pan from out the mire,
The Life eternal hath its furrows laid,
And wakens the All-Father's mystic choir.

The soul that enters there disrobed should go
A-tremble with desire and longing pure
Over the wounding spine and thorn below,
So should it dream, be stirred, and sing secure.

Life, Light and Truth, as in a triple flame
Produce the inner radiance infinite;
Art, pure as Christ, is heartened to exclaim:
I am indeed the Life, the Truth, the Light!

The Life is mystery; the Light is blind;
The Truth beyond our reach both daunts and fades;
The sheer perfection nowhere do we find;
The ideal sleeps, a secret, in the shades.


Therefore to be sincere is to be strong.
Bare as it is, what glimmer hath the star;
The water tells the fountain's soul in song
And voice of crystal flowing out afar.

Such my intent was,—of my spirit pure
To make a star, a fountain music-drawn,
With horror of the thing called literature—
And mad with madness of the gloam and dawn.

Of the blue twilight, such as gives the word
Which the celestial ecstasies inspires,
The haze and minor chord,—let flutes be heard!
Aurora, daughter of the Sun,—sound, lyres!

Let pass the stone if any use the sling;
Let pass, should hands of violence point the dart.
The stone from out the sling is for the waves a thing;
Hate's arrow of the idle wind is part.

Virtue is with the tranquil and the brave;
The fire interior burneth well and high;
Triumphant over rancor and the grave,
Toward Bethlehem—the caravan goes by!


The Three Wise Kings



MY name is Kaspar. I the incense bear.
The glamour of the Star has made me wise.
I say that love is vaster than the skies.
And God exits. And Life is pure and fair.

—My name is Melchior. And my myrrh scents all.
There is God. He is the light of morn.
The fairest blossoms from the dust are born,
And joy is shadowed by a threatful pall.

—My name is Balthasar. I bring a wreath
Of Orient gold, my gift. I come to say
That God exists. I know all by the ray
Of starry light upon the crown of Death.

—Balthasar, Melchior, Kaspar, be ye still.
Love triumphs and has bid you to his feast.
Radiance has filled the void, the night has ceased:
Wearing Life's crown, Christ comes to work His Will!




Song of Hope



Vultures a-wing have sullied the glory of the sky;
The winds bear on their pinions the horror of Death's
cry;
Assassining one another, men rage and fall and die.

Has Antichrist arisen whom John at Patmos saw?
Portents are seen and marvels that fill the world with awe,
And Christ's return seems pressing, come to fulfil the Law.

The ancient Earth is pregnant with so profound a smart,
The royal dreamer, musing, silent and sad apart,
Grieves with the heavy anguish that rends the world's great
heart.

Slaughterers of ideals with the violence of fate
Have cast man in the darkness of labyrinths intricate
To be the prey and carnage of hounds of war and hate.

Lord Christ! for what art waiting to come in all Thy might
And stretch Thy hands of radiance over these wolves of
night,
And spread on high Thy banners and lave the world with
light?

Swiftly arise and pour Life's essence lavishly
On souls that crazed with hunger, or sad, or maddened be,
Who tread the paths of blindness forgetting the dawn
and Thee.


Come Lord, to make Thy glory, with lightnings on Thy brow!
With trembling stars around Thee and cataclysmal woe,
And bring Thy gifts of justice and peace and love below!

Let the dread horse John visioned devouring stars, pass by;
And angels sound the clarion of Judgment from on high.
My heart shall be an ember and in thy censer lie.




Poets! Towers of God



Poets! Towers of God
Made to resist the fury of the storms
Like cliffs beside the ocean
Or clouded, savage peaks!
Masters of lightning!
Breakwaters of eternity!

Hope, magic-voiced, foretells the day
When on the rock of harmony
The Siren traitorous shall die and pass away,
And there shall only be
The full, frank-billowed music of the sea.

Be hopeful still,
Though bestial elements yet turn
From Song with rancorous ill-will
And blinded races one another spurn!
Perversity debased
Among the high her rebel cry has raised.
The cannibal still lusts after the raw,
Knife-toothed and gory-faced.

Towers, your laughing banners now unfold.
Against all hatreds and all envious lies
Upraise the protest of the breeze, half-told,
And the proud quietness of sea and skies….




A Sonnet on Cervantes



In all my days of troubled loneliness
And fretted grief Cervantes is to me
A faithful friend, and none so true as he,
That brings me precious gifts of quietness.

All nature his, and life. Of his largesse
My dreams, that are knight-errants bold and free,
Have golden casques to crown them gloriously.
He is, for me: sigh, prayer, joyousness.

He speaks as runs a brook, so amorous
And very gentle is this Christian knight,
Even undaunted. And I love him thus,

Beholding how the world, by fate's design,
Reaps, from his deathless sorrow, rich delight,
And laughter from a madness so divine!



On the Death of a Poet



ONLY the Swans that day
Saw the high maker of our thoughts embark
And o the Lake Mysterious fade away
In the black ship that crosses to the dark.

The poet's robe was his,
Embroidered with illustrious fleurs-de-lys;
And laurel leaf and thorn
His sad prefigured forehead did adorn.

Afar God's City rose,
Where everlasting Peace her throne has reared
Above the poppy-meadows of repose;
And as the coast of his desire he neared,
He proved divine delight, knew grace untold,
Beheld the Cross uplifted and, before
That sacred Conqueror,
The fallen Sphinx, a corpse already cold.


Antonio Machado



Wrapped in silence, secret-shy,
Once and again he wandered by.
From such depth his glances came
One could hardly see them flame.
When he spoke his accent would express
Timidity and haughtiness,
And nearly always one could see
His thoughts shining radiantly.
His faith was rooted on firm ground;
He used to be luminous and profound.
In the same flock shepherded
Lambs and lions he might have led;
He could have driven rambling gales,
Or brought honeycombs of tales.
The wonders of love and life and pleasure
Were his to sing in a magic measure,—
In verses whose meaning was hidden deep,
Whose secret lay in his soul's keep.
He mounted a rare wing's horse one day
And to the Impossible soared away.
I pray to my gods for Antonio:
May they keep him from all woe.

Amen.


Bagpipes of Spain



BAGPIPES of Spain, ye that can sing
That which is sweetest to us in the Spring!
You first sing of gladness and then sing of pain
As deep and as bitter as the billowed main.

Sing. 'Tis the season! As glad as the rain
My verses shall trip ye a jig or a fling.
Ecclesiastes said it again and again,
All things have their season, O bagpipes of Spain!—

A season to plant, a season to reap;
A season to sew, a season to tear;
A season to laugh, a season to weep;
Seasons for to hope and for to despair;
A season to love, a season to mate;
A season of birth, a season of Fate….



Song of Autumn in the Springtime



YOUTH, treasure only gods may keep,
Fleeting from me forever now!
I cannot, when I wish to, weep,
And often cry I know not how….

My heart's celestial histories,
So countless were, could not be told.—
She was a tender child, in this
World of affliction manifold.

She seemed a dawn of pure delight;
She smiled as the flow’rs after rain;
Her stresses were like to the night
Fashioned of darknesses and pain.

I was timid and childlike shy.
I could not but have been this way:
She, to my love chaste as the sky,
Was Herodias and Salomé….

Youth, treasure only gods may keep,
Fleeting from me forever now!
I cannot, when I wish to, weep,
And often cry I know not how….


The other was more sensitive,
More quieting and loving-kind,
With greater will to love and live
Than I ever had hoped to find.

For with her grace of tenderness
A violence of love she had:
In a peplos of loveliness
Was hid a Maenad passion mad….

To her bosom she took my dream,
Fondled it there, and gave it death....
My dream a suckling child did seem,
Dead lacking light, dead lacking faith....

Youth, treasure only gods may keep,
Wilted in me forever now!
I cannot, when I wish to, weep,
And often cry I know not how….

Another fancied my lips were
A casket wrought to hold her love;
And wildly with the teeth of her
To gnaw my very heart she strove.

She willed all passionate excess;
She was a flame of love for me;
She made each ardorous caress
Synthesis of eternity.


She deemed our flesh a deathless thing,
And on desire an Eden reared,
Forgetting that the flowers of Spring
And of the flesh so soon are seared….

Youth, treasure only gods may keep,
Fleeting from me forever now!
I cannot, when I wish to, weep,
And often cry I know not how….

And the others! In many climes,
In so many lands, ever were
Merely the pretext for my rhymes,
Or heart-born fantasies of her.

I sought for the princess in vain,
She that awaited sorrowing.
But life is hard. Bitter with pain.
There is no princess now to sing!

And yet despite the season drear,
My thirst of love no slaking knows;
Gray-haired am I, yet still draw near
The roses of the garden-close….

Youth, treasure only gods may keep,
Fleeting from me forever now!
I cannot, when I wish to, weep,
And often cry I know not how…

Ah, but the golden Dawn is mine!