|Enough of this sun-and-moon neighbouring glory—|
Enough of this office of heralding dawn!
Worthless to me the abodes of the planets,
Lowly earth-dwelling is more than these heights
I inhabit, to heaven but a realm of extinction,
Dawn’s skirt of the hundred-fold rent for my shroud:
To live, to die daily my fate, to be poured
The morning-draught first by the cupbearer Death.
Thankless this duty, this station, this dignity—
Better the dark then to shine for one hour!
No star would I be, if it lay in my will,
But a gleaming white pearl in the cavernous sea,
|And then, if too fearful the strife of the waves,|
Leave ocean, and hang in some necklace—what joy
It would be there to glitter as beauty’s bright pendent,
A gem in the crown of an emperor’s consort!
What fragment of stone, if its destiny smiled,
Might not flash in the ring on the finger of Solomon?
But glory of all such in this world must vanish,
The rich gem must vanish at last. That alone
Lives, that need have no acquaintance with death:
Can that be called life, that hears death’s importunity?
If, making earth lovely, our end must be thus,
Let me rather be changed to a flower-falling dewdrop,
|A speck in the gold-dust that paints a bride’s forehead,|
A spark in the sigh that a wounded heart breathes—
Or why not the glistening tear-drop that rolls
Down the long lashes fringing the eyes of a lady
Whose lord, in chain armour enmeshed, must set forth
To the battlefield, hurried by love of his country,
—A woman whose face like a picture shows hope
and despair side by side, and whose silence shames speech:
her patient thoughts built on her husband’s firm soul,
Her looks from their modesty borrowing eloquence,
That hour of farewell when the rosy cheek pales
And the sorrow of parting makes beauty more beautiful!
There, though she locked up her heart, I would gleam,
One waterdrop split from her eye’s brimming cup,
To find in the dust an immortal new life,
And teach to the world the long passion of love.
Translated by: V.G. Kiernan