poem 149

She weighs the difficulties of electing a way of life
that must last until death

With all the hazards of the sea in mind,
no one would set sail; if in advance
the dangers were foreseen, no one would dare
so much as taunt the mad bull in the ring.
If the prudent rider were to weigh
the unleashed fury of a pounding beast
set free to race, we would not see
anyone set a skilled hand to the reins.
But if one showed such brave audacity
as, despite the peril, to aspire
to take in hand the blazing chariot
of the great god Apollo, drenched in light:
that one would do it all, not simply choose
a way of life that must endure till death.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

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poem 148

Better death than suffer the affronts
of growing old

In the gardens, Celia gazed upon a rose
that candid in its haughty ostentation,
and bright in tints of scarlet and rich crimson,
joyfully its fragile face exposed,
and said: ,,Enjoy the day, fear not the blows
of Fate in this too fleeting celebration,
the death that on the morrow claims its portion,
cannot take from you the joys this day bestows;
though the perfume of life fade on the air,
and the hour of your passing too soon toll,
fear not the death that finds you young and fair:
take the counsel that experience extols,
to die while beautiful is finer far
than to suffer the affront of growing old.”

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

a spectre

The man who was returning from the dead
approached me, and my heart stood cold,
trembling and mute…Neither did he speak,
the man who came back from
the dead…

He was as silent as stone… Yet
in his self-absorbed expression
there was the solemn dread of one who has looked
at a great enigma and becomes the bearer
of the message that the whole globe awaits…
The man who did not speak paused at my side.

And his face and mine came together,
and there arose in my heart a violent desire
to ask questions…But, little by little,
the questions froze on my lips…

The evening shook with a loud howl
of a hurricane…And step by step
the man who came back from the dead
disappeared into the half-light of the declining day…

Enrique González Martínez

song to solitude

Sole of solitude and solitary and sole,
like the madman in the center of his madness,
I say what you have said to me
with the drowning voice of the sea in my ears,
made of ashes which sing.

I have heard your step, pastoral and naval,
of gazelle and anemone, falling across the time
of a dream woven by mutilated statues;
the lark dying under the snow,
the moss spelling life on the rock,
the harvest-fields of rain, the blind tunnel
which leads from the seed to the rose,
the beauty of the world, its greatest lamentation.
Conquered, I follow your frozen flame,
your deserted mirrors and your slow metals
which will never submit to the bells,
your footprint of burnt-out remain.

I do not know if you are the flesh or the bone of the fruit
of mystery and madness,
of the proud and awaited agony,
or if we are both dreaming ourselves
in the hurricane and in the sigh,
in the brief immensity of a blemish,
in that which I have wished for,
like water and fire in the blood,
like loves without forgetfulness.

I remember your repose of rain
falling over the sea.
Your anxiety of faithful ivy,
and of a little girl loved again.
I remember your pensive sorrows,
your dolorous joy, and your recumbent ecstasy
in my heart and in the morning stars.
Your pattern of cloud, unique and slow,
over a sky of sores; of useless weeping over pure death,
and a desolate hand in the immensity
of a body which yields itself.
You are not, I know, outside me, in the wind,
or in the farewell, the tomb or the defeat,
or in the snow which sometimes prolongs
the shadow of forgetfulness and the echo of nevermore.

Nor, when love was gone,
when a greater love had consumed me,
was she more part of me, her flesh and dream,
and her waking anxiety, and her blue,
sleepless grasp even became kissable.
And when suddenly all is sad,
because love comes complete,
as sad as if you had died,
ah! how close to me, [how] remote,
my dream in the homeland of dreams.

Already shadow less, with love, and without body,
in the clear fabric of silence,
which everything kisses into an enigma,
I remember myself after death.

The space where I taste and suffer
is a cascade of mourning of consoled stone
and a stain of damp on the wall.
And already I do not conceive of myself without being solitude itself
in the one time and place inside me.
Stony votive delirium of passion
where desire exists, unique and alone,
and love is terrible and eternal, and boundless.

You are the dull prolonged shout of the stone
against the living blood,
hurting its mystery of health and poppies.
Oh poesy! solitude and life,
first and eternal Eve,
who chops off
the hands of poor lovers?

I know my agonizing solitude,
sister of the dry myrtle and sleeping cupolas.
I know you are born like fire,
rubbing together two mysteries,
my dream and my skeleton.

Blood, tenaciously shed,
hears your ancient word,
seeking, solitude, your way.
When I die, if I ever know it,
I will be more in you, I will be your wheat,
your pulse and your inconsolable truth.
Oh poesy! solitude and death,
eternal and first Eve,
the sea is crying.

Solitude is not being alone with death
and being loved by her in life.
It is something sadder, dazzling and high;
it is to be alone with life.

Dying of thirst amid the seas,
your forms in my voice and other stars.
Solitude is in hope,
in triumph, in laughter and in the dance.

Luis Cardoza y Aragón

to the dead butterfly

Your jubilation, in flight;
your restlessness, in the air;
your life, in the sunshine, in the air, in flight.

How tiny your death,
under the light of living fire.
How serene the grace of your wings,
now [pressed] open forever in the book.

And in you, so gentle, in your silent death,
in your dreamless dream,
how many illusions lost in the air,
how many despairing thoughts.

Eugenio Florit

nocturno

A night,
a night quite full of murmurs, of perfumes,
and the music of wings:
a night
when the fantastic glow-worms burn
in the nuptial, humid darkness,
and, along the flowery path which crosses the field, you walked,
silent and pale, pressed up against me,
as if a presentiment of infinite bitterness
was troubling the most secret depths of your heart;
and the full moon scattered her
white light
through the bluish,
infinite and profound skies;
and your shadow,
agile
and graceful,
delicate
and languid,
and my shadow, projected by the moonbeams
across the sad sands of the path,
joined and were one,
and were one,
and were one
and were one single long shadow,
and were one single long shadow,
and were one single long shadow …

Tonight,
alone; the soul
full of the infinite bitterness and agonies
of your death,
separated from you yourself by time,
by the tomb and distance,
by the black infinitude
where our voice will not carry,
dumb and alone
I walked along the path,
and the barking of dogs to the moon,
to the pallid moon,
was heard,
and the croaking of the frogs…
I felt chill. It was the chill which, in your bedroom,
was held in your cheeks, in your brows, and your beloved hands,
amongst the snowy whitenesses of your burial-sheets.
It was the chill of the sepulcher, it was the ice of death,
it was the chill of nothingness…
And my shadow,
projected by the moonbeams,
passed on alone,
passed on alone,
passed on alone through the solitary plain,
and your shadow, agile and graceful,
delicate and languid,
as on that warm night of that dead spring,
as on that night full of murmurs, perfumes,
and the music of wings,
came up to and walked with mine,
came up to and walked with mine,
came up to and walked with mine…
Oh, the embraces of shadows!
Oh, the shadows of the bodies
which join the shadows of the souls!
Oh the shadows which seek each other
in the nights of sorrows and tears!…

José Asunción Silva

Luciana

And for a moment I saw eternity.
I saw the fragile perennial, the flower that is born
and that the wind blows but never destroys.
I saw the mystery, the bright fruit
which the sun lightly touched
and made ripe forever
and caught imperishably.
She was pure and thought herself sensible to evil.
She was innocent and thought she had malice and deceit in her.
In her smile was charm itself.
In her body was held the secret
of those beings death cannot touch.

Augusto Frederico Schmidt