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

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on friends lost at sea

Blaming the bitterness of this sorrow, Perikles, no man
in all our city can take pleasure in festivities:
Such were the men the surf of the roaring sea washed under,
all of us go with hearts aching against our ribs
for misery. Yet against such grief that is past recovery
the gods, dear friend, have given us strong endurance to be our medicine.
Such sorrows are variable. They beat now
against ourselves, and we take the hurt of the bleeding sore.
Tomorrow it will be others who grieve, not we. From now on
act like a man, and put away these feminine tears.

Archilochus

at dusk

At dusk, like flowers that shun the day,
Shy thoughts from dim recesses break,
And plead for words I dare not say
For your sweet sake.

My early love! my first, my last!
Mistakes have been that both must rue;
But all the passion of the past
Survives for you.

The tender message Hope might send
Sinks fainting at the lips of speech,
For, are you lover – are you friend,
That I would reach?

How much to-night I’d give to win
A banished peace – an old repose;
But here I sit, and sigh, and sin
When no one knows.

The stern, the steadfast reticence,
Which made the dearest phrases halt,
And checked a first and finest sense,
Was not my fault.

I held my words because there grew
About my life persistent pride;
And you were loved, who never knew
What love could hide!

This purpose filled my soul like flame:
To win you wealth and take the place
Where care is not, nor any shame
To vex your face.

I said “Till then my heart must keep
Its secrets safe and unconfest;”
And days and nights unknown to sleep
The vow attest.

Yet, oh! my sweet, it seems so long
Since you were near; and fates retard
The sequel of a struggle strong,
And life is hard –

Too hard, when one is left alone
To wrestle passion, never free
To turn and say to you, “My own,
Come home to me!”

Henry Kendall

song

Now night is coming on,
cattle and people are released,
desired rest begins,
my sorrow approaches.

The moonlight and the little golden stars
shine beautifully,
everything all round is happy;
only I am in sadness.

Two are lacking everywhere
in the number of the beautiful stars;
the two stars I mean are
the dear eyes of my beloved.

The moon holds no charms for me,
the light of the stars is dark since
Asteris, my firmament,
has turned away from me.

But when she,
the beauty of my sun,
approaches me again,
I prefer neither star nor moon to shine.

Martin Opitz

sorrow

Take me back, I said, to the happy shore
where Naples reflects its palaces, its hillsides,
and its cloudless stars in a blue sea,
where the orange-tree blooms beneath a sky that is always clear.
Why do you delay? Let us depart! I want to see once again
flaming Vesuvius rising from the bosom of the waves;
from its heights I want to see the dawn rise;
I want to come down those laughing slopes once again in a dream,
guiding the steps of her whom I adore.
Follow me among the windings of this calm bay:
let us return to those shores so well known to our footsteps,
to Cynthia’s gardens, to Virgil’s tomb,
near the scattered ruins of the temple of Venus:
there, beneath the orange-trees, beneath the flowering vine
whose lithe stem is united to the myrtle and weaves a vault of flowers above your head,
there, to the gentle noise of the waves or of the murmuring wind,
alone with our love, alone with nature,
life and light will have more sweetness.

The torch of my paling days burns itself out,
it goes out gradually at the breath of misfortune, or,
if sometimes it throws a faint light,
it is when your memory rekindles it in my breast.
I do not know if at last the gods will allow me to conclude
my wearisome day down here on earth:
my horizon is confined, and my uncertain eye
hardly dares to stretch it beyond a year.
But if I must die in the morning, if,
in a land appointed for happiness,
I must let fall from my hand
this cup which fate seemed to have
crowned with roses for me,
I only ask the gods to guide my steps
to shores made more beautiful by your beloved memory,
to hail from afar those happy climes,
and to die in the places where I tasted life.

Alphonse de Lamartine

eternal palace

But now, though I am told his royal palace towered here,
And they say here rose its lofty halls,
Only the spring weeds grow luxuriantly
And the spring sun is dimmed with mists.
As I see these ruins of the mighty palace
My heart is heavy with sorrows!

Kakinomoto Hitomaro