… poetry is also considered by many authors as a spiritual reality that goes beyond art …
The Autumn Poem
Rubén Darío, 1908
You, meditating on some other,
hand on chin curled,
think to have let fall, brother,
the flower of the world.
Emptily you lament and count
all of them sorrow,
say what is past will discount
Forgetting that the iris with rose
in fragrance will wed,
as too will proud myrtle shows
deck the grey head.
What the soul delights in, it kills,
as expire they must,
all lovers that Zingua, queen of Angola, wills
to feed her lust.
And you call the kind, harmless hour
and you expect thereafter the sour
Bedazzled by Sunday do you not
remember how love began:
and how it died on Ash Wednesday an ember,
O soul of man!
Up the blossoming mountain climbs
the soul from harm.
So say Anacreon and rhymes
of Omar Kayyam.
Escaping evil and in this
past all advice:
did not the evil of artifice
And beautiful and bright
surely days are
in a women captured, a rose and one white
Lucifer shines; in happiness drunk
sings the rough sea.
Yet Sylvanus is in the trunk
of green beech tree.
Shall we say, then, that life is pure,
entrancing and clear,
regal in all sweetness and sure
of Springtime near?
And shall we say that in the midst
and of insults when the reptiles twist
glowing in furies?
What good that we are conscious
of baleful faces,
or the emnities, or of Pontius
Pilate’s smooth graces?
Whenever the land finishes, and flat
the tide’s motion,
we are as we were, mere foam of that
Let us wash then our clothing
of staunched prose
but dream also of betrothing
the mystic rose.
Flowers, flowers in each moment,
hold to the lark’s song,
that one whole day in the firmament
be honey long.
We are all abundantly crowned
with love’s corona:
so each of us finds the ground
of our Verona.
Even at the last hour comes truth,
singing so as
to comfort us and say, Ruth,
glean for Boaz!
As in flowers, rich in their nascent
is not the dawn then but of fragrance,
Dance after the Sylvani or Eros,
be lusty again,
and as the world was, amorous
as all nymphs then.
Since time disgraces as disease,
you must know the
wiles to conquer him, Cydalise,
After Cypris comes Priapus,
hard on the prowl,
as Hecate hunting for Diana
has dogs howl.
Yet she, beautiful but blind
to all in her chiffon
imaginings goes down to find
Now to the place of roses belongs
so we will hear the Song of Songs
What in adolescence can hurt you?
Love will flower
as the dawn does, and in virtue:
what bliss that hour!
Unhappy he who waits too long;
and worse those
who spin out forever a song
that no love knows.
Here and in far lands a palace
where blood burns:
woman is that glittering chalice
for which love yearns.
She who is spent breath and flame
unfasten and sublime the same
into fine air.
Relinquish to longing its scope:
in the fragrance of women our hope,
our holy grail.
Feast on what the body has,
as appetite must:
what of it afterwards continues but as
ashes and dust?
Glory in the flame and prize
the flowering sun:
tomorrow is the passion of eyes
Embrace the harmonies of Apollo,
sing of the south:
for you will lack in the days that follow
even a mouth.
You will not let the good things blot
out their true worth,
because you know you are not
yet under the earth.
Remember also that which freezes
is the dove that Venus releases
over the Sphinx.
Out of hardship there comes to aid us
As also from the work of Phidias
In the sweetness of apple continues
the Biblical man:
and sits in our veins and sinews
What is living but a bestowing,
a universal and overflowing
All that is heaven beats forward to
which out of love’s contest is our true
Pain contains and offends us, this is
but given also is the flowing noesis
of the world’s state.
And ours also a vibrancy
as seashell the surf
sounding in its sufficiency
sunlight and earth.
Salt in our arteries presses
its bloodline and sweep
as sirens in wavering tresses
keep tritons from sleep.
Fence us in then with ilex and laurel,
and deeper entrust:
we, centaurs inclined, have no quarrel
with satyr’s lust.
In us abundances pour
headlong their breath,
as richer in love’s realms we draw
and deeper to death.
Translated by C. John Holcombe