Rose of Roses, and Flower of Flowers

01-13 Alfonso
Alfonso X, El Sabio, of Castile
Spanish
1221 – 1284

1.

Rose of beauty and fine appearance
And flower of happiness and pleasure,
lady of most merciful bearing,
And Lord for relieving all woes and cares;
Rose of roses and flower of flowers,
Lady of ladies, Lord of lords.

2.

Such a Mistress everybody should love,
For she can ward away any evil
And she can pardon any sinner
To create a better savor in this world.
Rose of roses and flower of flowers,
Lady of ladies, Lord of lords.

3.

We should love and serve her loyally,
For she can guard us from falling;
She makes us repent the errors
That we have committed as sinners:
Rose of roses and flower of flowers
Lady of ladies, Lord of lords.

4.

This lady whom I acknowledge as my Master
And whose troubadour I’d gladly be,
If I could in any way possess her love,
I’d give up all my other lovers.
Rose of roses and flower of flowers,
Lady of ladies, Lord of lords.

One Night

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 140th birthday.

12-24 Jimenez
Juan Ramón Jiménez
Spanish
1881 – 1958

 

The ancient spiders with a flutter spread
Their misty marvels through the withered flowers,
The windows, by the moonlight pierced, would shed
Their trembling garlands pale across the bowers.

The balconies looked over to the South;
The night was one immortal and serene;
From fields afar the newborn springtime’s mouth
Wafted a breath of sweetness o’er the scene.

How silent! Grief had hushed its spectral moan
Among the shadowy roses of the sward;
Love was a fable—shadows overthrown
Trooped back in myriads from oblivion’s ward.

The garden’s voice was all—empires had died—
The azure stars in languor having known
The sorrows all the centuries provide,
With silver crowned me there, remote and lone.

Song of the Soul that Delights in Reaching the Supreme State of Perfection, that is, the Union with God, by the Path of Spiritual Negation

We present this work in honor of All Saints’ Day.

11-01 De La Cruz
Juan de la Cruz
Spanish
1542 – 1591

 

Upon a darkened night
on fire with all love’s longing
– O joyful flight! –
I left, none noticing,
my house, in silence, resting.

Secure, devoid of light,
by secret stairway, stealing
– O joyful flight! –
in darkness self-concealing,
my house, in silence, resting.

In the joy of night,
in secret so none saw me,
no object in my sight
no other light to guide me,
but what burned here inside me.

Which solely was my guide,
more surely than noon-glow,
to where he does abide,
one whom I deeply know,
a place where none did show.

O night, my guide!
O night, far kinder than the dawn!
O night that tied
the lover to the loved,
the loved in the lover there transformed!

On my flowering breast,
that breast I kept for him alone,
there he took his rest
while I regaled my own,
in lulling breezes from the cedars blown.

The breeze, from off the tower,
as I sieved through its windings
with calm hands, that hour,
my neck, in wounding,
left all my senses hanging.

Self abandoned, self forgot,
my face inclined to the beloved one:
all ceased, and I was not,
my cares now left behind, and gone:
there among the lilies all forgotten.

To the Flower of Gnido

We present this work in honor of the 485th anniversary of the poet’s death.

10-14 De La Vega
Garcilaso de la Vega
Spanish
1501 – 1536

 

I
Had I the sweet resounding lyre
Whose voice could in a moment chain
The howling wind’s ungoverned ire,
And movement of the raging main;
On savage hills the leopard rein,

II
The lion’s fiery soul entrance,
And lead along with golden tones
The fascinated trees and stones
In voluntary dance,
Think not, think not, fair Flower of Gnide,

III
It e’er should celebrate the scars,
Dust raised, bloodshed, or laurels dyed
Beneath the gonfalon of Mars;
Or borne sublime on festal cars,
The chiefs who to submission sank

IV
The rebel German’s soul of soul,
And forged the chains that now control
The frenzy of the Frank.
No, no! its harmonies should ring
In vaunt of glories all thine own,

V
A discord sometimes from the string
Struck forth to make thy harshness known;
The fingered chords should speak alone
Of Beauty’s triumphs, Love’s alarms,
And one who, made by thy disdain

VI
Pale as a lily dipt in twain,
Bewails thy fatal charms.
Of that poor captive, too, contemned,
I speak, his doom you might deploreIn
Venus’ galliot-shell condemned

VII
To strain for life the heavy oar.
Through thee no longer as of yore
He tames the unmanageable steed,
With curb of gold his pride restrains,
Or with pressed spurs and shaken reins

VIII
Torments him into speed.
Not now he wields for thy sweet sake
The sword in his accomplished hand,
Nor grapples like a poisonous snake,
The wrestler on the yellow sand;

IX
The old heroic harp his hand
Consults not now, it can but kiss
The amorous lute’s dissolving strings,
Which murmur forth a thousand things
Of banishment from bliss.

X
Through thee, my dearest friend and best
Grows harsh, importunate, and grave;
Myself have been his port of rest
From shipwreck and the yawning wave;
Yet now so high his passions rave

XI
Above lost reason ‘s conquered laws,
That not the traveller ere he slays
The asp, its sting, as he my face
So dreads, or so abhors.
In snows on rocks, sweet Flower of Gnide,

XII
Thou wert not cradled, wert not born,
She who has no fault beside
Should ne’er be signalized for scorn;
Else, tremble at the fate forlorn
Of Anaxarete, who spurned

XIII
The weeping Iphis from her gate,
Who, scoffing long, relenting late,
Was to a statue turned.
Whilst yet soft pity she repelled,
Whilst yet she steeled her heart in pride,

XIV
From her friezed window she beheld
Aghast, the lifeless suicide;
Around his lily neck was tied
What freed his spirit from her chains,
And purchased with a few short sighs

XV
For her immortal agonies,
Imperishable pains.
Then first she felt her bosom bleed
With love and pity; vain distress!
Oh what deep rigors must succeed

XVI
This first sole touch of tenderness!
Her eyes grow glazed and motionless,
Nailed on his wavering corse, each bone
Hardening in growth, invades her flesh,
Which, late so rosy, warm, and fresh,

XVII
Now stagnates into stone.
From limb to limb the frost aspire,
Her vitals curdle with the cold;
The blood forgets its crimson fire,
The veins that e’er its motion rolled;

XVIII
Till now the virgin’s glorious mould
Was wholly into marble changed,
On which the Salaminians gazed,
Less at the prodigy amazed,
Than of the crime avenged.

XIX
Then tempt not thou Fate’s angry arms,
By cruel frown or icy taunt;
But let thy perfect deeds and charms
To poets’ harps, Divinest, grant
Themes worthy their immortal vaunt;

XX
Else must our weeping strings presume
To celebrate in strains of woe,
The justice of some signal blow
That strikes thee to the tomb.

The Musical Ass

We present this work in honor of the 230th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Tomas de Iriarte y Oropesa
Spanish
1750 – 1791

 

The fable which I now present,
Occurred to me by accident:
And whether bad or excellent,
Is merely so by accident.

A stupid ass this morning went
Into a field by accident:
And cropped his food, and was content,
Until he spied by accident
A flute, which some oblivious gent
Had left behind by accident;
When, sniffling it with eager scent,
He breathed on it by accident,
And made the hollow instrument
Emit a sound by accident.
“Hurrah, hurrah!” exclaimed the brute,
“How cleverly I play the flute!”

A fool, in spite of nature’s bent,
May shine for once, by accident.

The Young Nation

09-12 Machado
Antonio Machado
Spanish
1875 – 1939

 

It was a time of infamy and lies.
The nation itself was dressed up
like a squalid clown to draw
attention away from our wound.

That was then. We were young:
bad weather, worse omens,
we had nightmares in our hair
as the sea swelled with wrecks.

We swore we would abandon ship.
We said that we would sail away on
a silver galleon, eschewing the shore,
rudder and sail charging to the sea.

Even in the loss of that dream—
the debt from a century of failure—
we still sought the light as sacred
ideals drowned in this confusion.

Led by our anxious convictions,
we flexed, we preened, we abandoned
armor as clean as a mirror. We said,
“It’s bad, but tomorrow will be mine.”

Today is that tomorrow. The nation
is dancing in faux gold, faux fur,
twisted as an oak and drunk
on wine like blood from a sore.

Listen. If the will to change comes,
chase it. When the fire comes,
wake up, wake and let it fill you up
the way light burns inside a diamond.

The Dusky Swallows Will Return

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 185th birthday.

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer
Spanish
1836 – 1870

 

The dusky swallows will return
To hang their nests beneath thy eaves,
And playing to their nestlings call
As once they called of old.

But those who checked their flight
To gaze upon the beauty and my joy,
Who learnt our names—Ah Love!
They—will return no more!

The twining honeysuckles once again
Shall scale thy garden walls;
And once again at eve, more beautiful,
Their flowers will unfold.

But those of yore, begemmed with dews
Whose drops we watched together
Tremble and fall like tears of bright day,
They—will return no more!

Once more within thine ears, the words
Of burning love shall sound,
And from its slumber deep, perchance
Thy heart will wake.

But spellbound, speechless, kneeling low,
As saints before their altars are adored,
As I have loved thee—oh! deceive thee not!
Thus shall none love thee more!