To a Swallow

Juan Clemente Zenea
Cuban
1832 – 1871

 

Thou messenger, far wandering,
Who ‘neath my cell art fluttering
And round and round me gayly fly,
Whence comest thou, on restless wing?
And whither, swallow, dost thou hie?

To this south country thou hast flown
In quest of flowers and zephyr’s breath,
While I within my prison moan
And clamor in my dungeon lone
For wintry skies and snowy heath.

With longing heart I long to see
That which thou’st lightly left behind;
I long to fly beyond the sea,
To feel anew the northern wind,
To be a swallow and to flee.

I long again to find my nest
And there, as was wont of old,
Without a fear to mar my rest,
Repose in midst of Love’s sweet fold,
With wife and child to make me blest.

And if my dear ones, lost to me,
Should ask that thou a message bring
When thou again wilt cross the sea,
Pursue thy flight, thou bird of Spring,
Be not detained by thought of me.

For if thou, wanderer, seekest there
To find a drooping willow where
It shades the dust of him that’s free,
Thou swallow fair! thou swallow fair!
Thou’lt seek in vain where I will be.

So seek not thou with restless flight,
To find my dark and hidden grave,
For know’st thou not, thou winged dace?
O’er the poet’s tomb no willows wave,
No cypress marks his resting-place.

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