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Don Luis De Góngora - (Excerpt from "Las Soledades")




Dictated by the Muse, these verses, know,
As many footsteps as the pilgrim made;
Though some in solitude confused have strayed
Others inspired were born.

Oh thou, whom hindering javelins surround
-Diamond battlements, of fir the walls-
Who beatest the high mountains (armed with snow
This crystal giant crew the heavens appals);
Where with repeated echo now the horn
Displays wild beasts, that, to the crimson ground,
Dead, for much greater boundaries appeal,
And foaming coral add to Tormes' flood:

Lean 'gainst an ash thy ashen spear-whose steel
In few short minutes will, by sweating blood,
The snow with purple dye-
And, while the careful beater may apply
To the hard oak and elevated pine
(That living emulate the very stones)
The formidable bones
Of bears transfixed before by thy proud shaft
(They even then would kiss the shining haft),
-Either the ilex with its shade divine
A new but regal canopy may bring,
Or let the lofty margin of the spring
Supply thy godhead with majestic throne-
Oh most illustrious peer!

Burning fatigue shall soon sweet coolness find,
And to repose thy limbs delivered here
Upon the turfy ground,
Let thyself by the wandering feet be found,
Sure paces offered unto thee alone
And to the royal chains upon thy shield.

And let their soft and generous bond embrace
Him, who when free was dogged by Fortune blind:
Euterpe, flattered by your pitying grace,
Her sweet canorous instrument shall yield
If Fame deny her trumpet to the wind.

The First Solitude




It was the flowery season of the year
In which Europa's perjured robber strays
-Whose brow the arms of the half-moon adorn,
The sun the shining armour of his hide-
Through sapphire fields to feast on stellar corn,
When, fitter cupbearer than Ganymede
For Jupiter, the lovesick boy gave tears
(Absent, disdained and shipwrecked) to the tide
And winds, which moved by his complaining lays
As to a secon Arion's harp gave heed.

A pitying limb from mountain pine, opposed,
The constant enemy to Notus' strife,
Became no puny dolphin on that day
To the unthinking traveller who reposed,
Trusting to miserable boards his life,
And to an Ocean's Lybia his way.

Close by a headland, crowned
With sheltering feathers and dry rushes, he,
Engulfed before, then spewed up by the sea,
(Covered with foam, with seaweed girded) found
A hospitable rest,
Where built the bird of Jupiter his nest.

And having kissed the sand,
The fragment from the shivered hull he gave
As offering to the rocks, now from the wave
Safe, and restored to land;
For even boulders rude
Are flattered by the marks of gratitude

Naked the youth, that ocean which before
His raiment drank, he gave back to the shore;
And then the garments to the sun he spread,
Which, with its gentle tongue of temperate fire,
Slowly attacked, but with no fierce desire,
The least wave sipping from the smallest thread.

Then the horizon from the evening light
-Which made unequal and confusedly
Mountains of water, oceans of the height-
Not well distinguishing,
And clad the youth forlorn
In what he had redeemed from the wild sea,
He trod the twilight down 'mid many a thorn;
Rocks, which to equal hardly had availed
A swift intrepid wing,
He-more confused than he was weary-scaled.

Thye summit crowned at last
-Of the resounding sea
And of the silent land
A rampart strong and equal arbiter-
With safer foot he passed
Toward where, tremblingly,
Light indistinct and of brief splendour there
The lantern of a cottage, stood displayed,
At anchor in the uncertain gulf of shade,
Shewing the port at hand...