the poet and the king

One day, a solitary man
was brought before the King.
From the dazzling throne
the Monarch looked down upon him
and wanted to know
what elements made up the life
of this strange being…

Indulgent and patriarchal,
the King began with a gentle question:
Do you have a name?
,,No, Sire.”
A homeland, by any chance?
,,The whole world is where I live.”
Why does such bitterness
blossom in your voice?
Are you a free man or a slave?
,,I am free, yes, but, sad to say,
Sire, I am a poet!”

Rubén Darío

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symphony in grey major

The sea like some giant crystal of quicksilver
reflects the metal plate of a sky of rolled zinc.
Far away there are flocks of birds forming a stain
on a polished background of a pale shade of gray.

The sun, a piece of glass, both rounded and opaque,
walks toward its zenith with a sick person’s steps.
The breezes from the sea take a rest in the shade,
using as a pillow what their black trumpets play.

The waves, moving their bellies made of lead,
seem to be moaning under the great wharf.
Sitting on a cable and puffing on his pipe,
there is a mariner, thinking about beaches
in some distant country, lost on a foggy day.

That sea-wolf is ancient. The burning rays of light
from the Brazilian sun toasted him to a crisp.
The harshest typhoons on the South China Sea
found him drinking his gin in a protected bay.

Iodine and nitrate fecundate the sea-spray
that has known his red nose for a very long time,
and his curly hair, too, and his athlete’s biceps,
his hat made of canvas, his shirt ripped in a fray.

In the midst of the smoke from clouds of tobacco
the old man can discern the country lost in fog,
where on one afternoon that was golden and warm,
the brigantine weighed anchor and then sailed away.

Tropical siesta. The sea-wolf is sleeping.
The gamut of the gray enshrouds everything now.
It seems like some gentle and huge stump of paper
for shading the lines that frame the curved sky today.

Tropical siesta, and the old cicada
practices its guitar so hoarse and so senile.
The cricket tries out a monotonous solo
on the one-stringed violin it knows how to play.

Rubén Darío

nocturne

Silence of the night, painful silence,
Nocturne . . . Why does my soul tremble like this?
I hear the low hum of my blood.
I watch a calm storm pass inside my skull.
Insomnia! Not to sleep, and perchance
to dream. To be the whole soliloquy
of spiritual dissection, my Hamlet-I!
To dissolve my sadness
in one night’s wine,
in the marvelous crystal darkness . . .
And then I wonder: When will it be dawn?
A door just closed . . .
Someone is passing on the street . . .
The clock strikes three … It must be Her!

Rubén Darío