Sighed for honors; battles planned;
Sipped of cups that wisdom banned
But would please the weak frail flesh;
Suffered, fell, ’rose, struggled fresh?
Now that you are but a skull
Glimpse you life as life is, full
Of beauties that we miss
Till time withers with his kiss?
Do you laugh in cynic vein
Since you cannot try again?
And you know that we, like you,
Will too late our failings rue?
Tell me, ghoulish, grinning skull
What deep broodings, o’er you mull?
Tell me why you smirk and smile
Ere I pass life’s sunset stile.
PLACIDO’S SONNET TO HIS MOTHER
(En La Capilla)
Si la suerte fatal que me ha cabido,
Y el triste fin de mi sangrienta historia,
Al salir de esta vida transitoria
Deja tu corazon de muerte herido;
Baste de Ilanto: el animo afligido
Recobre su quietud; moro en la gloria,
Y mi placida lira a tu memoria
Lanza en la tumba su postrer sonido.
Sonido dulce, melodioso y santo,
Glorioso, espiritual, puro y divino,
Inocente, espontaneo como el llanto
Que vertiera al nacer: ya el cuello inclino!
Ya de la religion me cubre el manto!
Adios, mi madre! adios—El Peligrino.
(In the Chapel)
The appointed lot has come upon me, mother,
The mournful ending of my years of strife,
This changing world I leave, and to another
In blood and terror goes my spirit’s life.
But thou, grief-smitten, cease thy mortal weeping
And let thy soul her wonted peace regain; I fall for right, and thoughts of thee are sweeping Across my lyre to wake its dying strains.
A strain of joy and gladness, free, unfailing
All glorious and holy, pure, divine,
And innocent, unconscious as the wailing
I uttered on my birth; and I resign
Even now, my life, even now descending slowly,
Faith’s mantle folds me to my slumbers holy.
Mother, farewell! God keep thee—and forever!
Translated by William Cullen Bryant.
(Written in the Chapel of the Hospital de Santa Cristina on the Night Before His Execution)
If the unfortunate fate engulfing me,
The ending of my history of grief,
The closing of my span of years so brief,
Mother, should wake a single pang in thee,
Weep not. No saddening thought to me devote;
I calmly go to a death that is glory-filled,
My lyre before it is forever stilled
Breathes out to thee its last and dying note.
A note scarce more than a burden-easing sigh,
Tender and sacred, innocent, sincere—
Spontaneous and instinctive as the cry
I gave at birth—And now the hour is here—
O God, thy mantle of mercy o’er my sins!
Mother, farewell! The pilgrimage begins.