You bid me now to strike the lyre,
That mute and torn so long has lain:
And yet I cannot wake the strain,
Nor will the Muse one note inspire!
Coldly it shakes in accenta dire,
As if my soul itself to wring,
And when its sound seems but to fling
A jest at its own low lament;
So in sad isolation pent,
My soul can neither feel nor sing.
There was a time-ah, ‘t is too true –
But that time long ago has past –
When upon me the Muse had cast
Indulgent smile and friendship’s due;
But of that age now all too few
The thoughts that with me yet will stay;
As from the hours of festive play
There linger on mysterious notes,
And in our minds the memory floats
Of minstrelsy and music gay.
A plant I am, that scarcely grown,
Was torn from out its Eastern bed,
Where all around perfume is shed,
And life but as a dream is known;
The land that I can call my own,
By me forgotten ne’er to be,
Where trilling birds their song taught me,
And cascades with their ceaseless roar,
And all along the apreading shore
The murmurs of the sounding sea.
While yet in childhood’s happy day,
I learned upon its sun to smile,
And in my breast there seems the while
Seething volcanic fires to play.
A bard I was, my wish alway
To call upon the fleeting wind,
With all the force of verse and mind:
“Go forth, and spread around its flame
From zone to zone with glad acclaim,
And earth to heaven together bind !”
But it I left, and now no more –
Like a tree that is broken and sere –
My natal gods bring the echo clear
Of songs that in past times they bore;
Wide seas I cross’d to foreign shore,
With hope of change and other fate;
My folly waa made clear too late,
For in the place of good I sought
The seas reveal’d unto me naught,
But made death’s specter on me wait.
All these fond fancies that were mine,
AIl love, all feeling, all emprise,
Were left beneath the sunny skies,
Which o’er that flowery region shine;
So press no more that plea of thine,
For songs of love from out a heart
That coldly liea a thing apart;
Since now with tortur’d soul I haste
Unresting o’er the desert waste,
And lifeless gone is all the art.
To my Muse
Invoked no longer is the Muse,
The lyre is out of date;
The poets it no longer use,
And youth its inspiration now imbues
With other form and state.
If today our fancies aught
Of verse would still require,
Helicon’s hill remains unsought;
And without heed we but inquire,
Why the coffee is not brought.
In the place of thought sincere
That our hearts may feel,
We must seize a pen of steel,
And with verse and line severe
Fling abroad a jest and jeer.
Muse, that in the past inspired me,
And with songs of love hast fired me;
Go thou now to dull repose,
For today in sordid prose
I must earn the gold that hired me.
Now must I ponder deep,
Meditate, and struggle on;
E’en sometimes I must weep;
For he who love would keep
Great pain has undergone.
Fled are the days of ease,
The days of Love’s delight;
When flowers still would please
And give to suffering souls surcease
From pain and sorrow’s blight.
One by one they have passed on,
All I loved and moved among;
Dead or married—from me gone,
For all I place my heart upon
By fate adverse are stung.
Go thou, too, O Muse, depart,
Other regions fairer find;
For my land but offers art
For the laurel, chains that bind,
For a temple, prisons blind.
But before thou leavest me, speak:
Tell me with thy voice sublime,
Thou couldst ever from me seek
A song of sorrow for the weak,
Defiance to the tyrant’s crime.
The Song of the Traveller
Like to a leaf that is fallen and withered,
Tossed by the tempest from pole unto pole;
Thus roams the pilgrim abroad without purpose,
Roams without love, without country or soul.
Following anxiously treacherous fortune,
Fortune which e ‘en as he grasps at it flees ;
Vain though the hopes that his yearning is seeking,
Yet does the pilgrim embark on the seas
Ever impelled by the invisible power,
Destined to roam from the East to the West ;
Oft he remembers the faces of loved ones,
Dreams of the day when he, too, was at rest.
Chance may assign him a tomb on the desert,
Grant him a final asylum of peace ;
Soon by the world and his country forgotten,
God rest his soul when his wanderings cease !
Often the sorrowing pilgrim is envied,
Circling the globe like a sea-gull above ;
Little, ah, little they know what a void
Saddens his soul by the absence of love.
Home may the pilgrim return in the future,
Back to his loved ones his footsteps he bends ;
Naught wìll he find but the snow and the ruins,
Ashes of love and the tomb of his friends,
Pilgrim, begone ! Nor return more hereafter,
Stranger thou art in the land of thy birth ;
Others may sing of their love while rejoicing,
Thou once again must roam o’er the earth.
Pilgrim, begone ! Nor return more hereafter,
Dry are the tears that a while for thee ran ;
Pilgrim, begone ! And forget thine affliction,
Loud laughs the world at the sorrows of man.
The Song of Maria Clara
Sweet are the hours in one’s native land,
Where all is dear the sunbeams bless;
Life-giving breezes sweep the strand,
And death is soften’ d by love’s caress.
Warm kisses play on her mother’s lips,
On her fond, tender breast awakening;
When round her neck the soft arm slips
And bright eyes smile, all love partaking.
Sweet is death for one’s native land,
Where all is dear the sun beams bless;
Dead is the breeze that sweeps the strand,
Without a mother, home, or love’s caress.