The Beggar

We present this work in honor of the 180th anniversary of the poet’s death.

05-23 Espronceda
José de Espronceda
Spanish
1808 – 1842

The world is mine; I am free as air;
Let others work that I may eat;
All shall melt at my piteous prayer:—
“An alms, for God’s sake, I entreat.”

The cabin, the palace,
Are my resort;
If the threat of the thunder
Shall break from the mountain,
Or the torrent’s quick fountain
Shall drive me under,
Within their shelter
The shepherds make place,
Lovingly asking me
Food to grace;
Or by the rich hearthstone
I take my ease
Fanned by the odors
Of burning trees;
With the luscious banquet
And cushioned store,
Upon the couch
Of some proud señor.

And I say to myself:—
“Let the breezes blow
And the tempest rage
In the world without:
Let the branches crack
Where the high winds go,
As I slumber with nothing to trouble about.
The world is mine; I am free as air!”

All are my patrons,
And for all I ask
My God as I daily pray;
From peasant and noble
I get my pay,
And I take their favors
Both great and small.
I never ask them
Who they be,
Nor stop to task them
With thanks for fee.
If they desire
To give me alms,
‘Tis but their duty
To tip my palms.
Their wealth is sinful
They must see;
And a holy state
Is my poverty,
And he is a miser
Who would deny
An alms, and a beggar
Blest am I.

For I am poor and they grieve to note
How I groan beneath my pain;
They never see that their wealth is a mine
Where I my treasures gain.
The world is mine; I am free as air!

A rebel and a discontent
Amid my rags am I;
To satirise their ease I’m sent
And with a sour-set eye
I boldly stare at the potentate
Who dares to pass me in his state.

The lovely maid
Of a thousand scents
In her joy arrayed
With her love-locks blent—
‘Tis she I follow
Till she turns around,
And my evil smells
Her sense astound.
At the feasts and spreads
My voice is heard
And they bow their heads
At my merest word.
Their joy and revel
I come to stay,
At the sight of my rags
And my voice’s brags
Their music dies away.
Showing how near
Dwell pain and joy;
No joy without tear
No pain sans glad alloy.
The world is mine; I am free as air!

For me no morrow
Nor yesterday;
I forget the sorrow
And the welladay.
There’s nought to trouble
Or weary me here,—
It’s a palace tomorrow
Or a hospital’s cheer.
I live a stranger
To thoughts of care;
Let others seek glory
Or riches rare!
My one concern
Is to pass today;
Let the laws prevail
Where the monarchs sway!
For I am a beggar
And a poor man proud;
‘Tis through fear of me
There are alms allowed.

A soft asylum
Where’er it be,
And a hospital bed
Will be ready for me;
And a cosy ditch
Where my bones shall lie
Will cover me over
When I die.

The world is mine; I am free as air;
Let others work that I may eat!
All hearts must melt at my piteous prayer:—
An alms, for God’s sake, I entreat!”

Translation by Thomas Walsh

A Night in the Wheat Field

We present this work in honor of Galician Literature Day.

05-17 Curros
Manuel Curros Enríquez
Spanish
1851 – 1908

 

Once upon a night in the wheat fields
By the reflected white light of the bright moon
A young girl mourned without pause
The disdain of an ungrateful beau.

And between plaints the poor girl said,
“I have no one left in the world…
I’m going to die and my eyes do not see
The dear eyes of my sweet boon.”

Her echoes of melancholy
Strolled on the wings of the wind
And she kept repeating the lament,
“I’m going to die and my boon doesn’t come!”

Far away from her, standing at the stern
Of a rogue steamboat slaver,
The unfortunate, forlorn lover
Emigrates en route to America.

And upon watching the gentle swallows
Cross toward the land he leaves behind,
“Who could turn back,” he pondered,
“Who could fly away with you…!”

But the birds and the vessel sped onward
Without hearing his bitter laments,
Only the winds kept repeating,
“Who could fly away with you…!”

Clear nights of fragrances and moonlight:
How much sadness you own since then
For those who saw a young girl weeping,
For those who saw a ship leave port…

Away from a heavenly, genuine love
That is not shown by teardrops alone:
A grave on a lookout
And a corpse on the ocean floor!

 

Translation by Eduardo Freire Canosa

Porphyria’s Lover

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 210th birthday.

05-07 Browning
Robert Browning
English
1812 – 1889

The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.

When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form

Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,

She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o’er all, her yellow hair,

Murmuring how she loved me — she
Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavour,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever.

But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could to-night’s gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.

Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshipped me; surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.

That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,

And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.

And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before,
Only, this time my shoulder bore

Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!

Porphyria’s love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word!

The Sculptor

04-28 Baratynsky
Yevgeny Baratynsky
Russian
1800 – 1844

 

When fixed his gaze upon the stone,
The artist saw a nymph inside,
And fire ran through vein his own –
He flew to her in all his heart.

But though full of strong desire,
He’s now overcome the spell:
The chisel, piecemeal and unhurried,
From his high goddess, sanctified,
Removes a shell after a shell.

In the sweet and vague preoccupation
More than a day or a year will pass;
But from the goddess of his passion,
The fallen veil will not be last,

Until, perceiving his desire,
Under the chisel’s gentle caress,
And answering by a gaze of fire,
Sweat Galatea brings entire
The sage into a first embrace.

 

Translation by Yevgeny Bonver

Don’t Open Your Arms

We present this work in honor of the 90th anniversary of the poet’s death.

04-19 Gedroits
Vera Gedroits
Russian
1870 – 1932

Don’t – no – don’t open your arms
Don’t let me out – no words needed.
Your kiss is so burning fragrant
And, like a tent, our alcove is starless.
Another – again – centuries to live out in an instant,
Let me die – die with me.
The silent night pours the spell of frenzy,
Dew ringing on the ground brings heat.
Here the star chambers opened wide,
In a kiss, merging with one life,
Don’t – no – don’t open your arms,
Let me die! Die with me!

The Flowers

04-18 Mallarme
Stephane Mallarme
French
1842 – 1898

 

From golden showers of the ancient skies,
On the first day, and the eternal snow of stars,
You once unfastened giant calyxes
For the young earth still innocent of scars:

Young gladioli with the necks of swans,
Laurels divine, of exiled souls the dream,
Vermilion as the modesty of dawns
Trod by the footsteps of the seraphim;

The hyacinth, the myrtle gleaming bright,
And, like the flesh of woman, the cruel rose,
Hérodiade blooming in the garden light,
She that from wild and radiant blood arose!

And made the sobbing whiteness of the lily
That skims a sea of sighs, and as it wends
Through the blue incense of horizons, palely
Toward the weeping moon in dreams ascends!

Hosanna on the lute and in the censers,
Lady, and of our purgatorial groves!
Through heavenly evenings let the echoes answer,
Sparkling haloes, glances of rapturous love!

Mother, who in your strong and righteous bosom,
Formed calyxes balancing the future flask,
Capacious flowers with the deadly balsam
For the weary poet withering on the husk.

 

Translation by Henry Weinfield

Easter Day

We present this work in honor of Easter Day.

04-17 Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Irish
1854 – 1900

The silver trumpets rang across the Dome:
The people knelt upon the ground with awe:
And borne upon the necks of men I saw,
Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome.

Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than foam,
And, king-like, swathed himself in royal red,
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head:
In splendor and in light the Pope passed home.

My heart stole back across wide wastes of years
To One who wandered by a lonely sea,
And sought in vain for any place of rest:
“Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest,

I, only I, must wander wearily,
And bruise My feet, and drink wine salt with tears.”

Dreams

We present this work in honor of the 115th anniversary of the poet’s death.

04-06 Drummond
William Henry Drummond
Canadian
1854 – 1907

Bord á Plouffe, Bord á Plouffe,
W’at do I see w’en I dream of you?
A shore w’ere de water is racin’ by,
A small boy lookin’, an’ wonderin’ w’y
He can’t get fedder for goin’ fly
Lak de hawk makin’ ring on de summer sky.
Dat ‘s w’at I see.

Bord á Plouffe, Bord á Plouffe,
W’at do I hear w’en i dream of you?
Too many t’ing for sleepin’ well!
De song of de ole tam cariole bell,
De voice of dat girl from Sainte Angèle
(I geev’ her a ring was mark “fidèle”)
Dat ‘s what I hear.

Bord á Plouffe, Bord á Plouffe,
W’at do I smoke w’en I dream of you?
Havana cigar from across de sea,
An’ get dem for not’ing too? No siree!
Dere ‘s only wan kin’ of tabac for me.
An’ it grow on de Rivière des Prairies-
Dat ‘s what I smoke.

Bord á Plouffe, Bord á Plouffe,
How go I feel w’en I t’ink of you?
Sick, sick for the ole place way back dere-
An’ to sleep on ma own leetle room upstair
W’ere de ghos’ on de chimley mak’ me scare
I ‘d geev’ more monee dan I can spare-
Dat ‘s how I feel.

Bord á Plouffe, Bord á Plouffe,
W’at will I do w’en I ‘m back wit’ you?
I ‘ll buy de farm of Bonhomme Martel,
Long tam he ‘s been waitin’ a chance to sell,
Den pass de nex’ morning on Sainte Angèle,
An’ if she ‘s not marry -dat girl- very well,
Dat ‘s w’at I ‘ll do.

To Samos

We present this work in honor of Greek Independence Day.

03-25 Kalvos
Andreas Kalvos
Greek
1792 – 1869

 

Let those who feel
the heavy brazen hand of fear
bear slavery:
freedom needs virtue,
needs daring.

This (for myth may veil
the spirit of truth) lent wings
to Icarus – and though he fell,
the wingèd one and drowned
beneath the waves,

he fell from on high
and died free. Should you
die like a sheep, dishonoured,
at the hands of a tyrant,
your grave will be an abomination.

 

Translation by James Munro