Luis de Góngora y Argote

 

 

Translated by A. S. Kline

 

 

 

 

 (Mariposa, no sólo no cobarde,)

 

 

Butterfly, not only not fearfully,

But recklessly and fatally blind,

You seek what the flame yet denies

The Phoenix set on keeping its wings,

 

Since repenting too late of the harm,

Soliciting splendour, you approach

That which shines, and in hope surrender

Your ragged plumage to that which burns.

 

There is a glory in all that sweetly

Yields the short-lived bee a grave;

Happiness crowns the crowning error!

 

My opposite ambition lacks such light;

Less active themselves, how much less

The ashes burn where smoke will scorch.

 

 

 

Urnas plebeyas, túmulos reales

 

These common urns, and royal tombs,

Enter in them, Memory, without fear,

Here where the executioner of our days

To unequal steps grants equal measure.

 

Consider these traces of mortality,

These naked bones and frozen ashes,

Despite the way their pious remains,

Gaze now towards the east, in vain.

 

Then descend the abyss, in whose depths,

Spirits blaspheme; in whose strong prison,

Eternal war is heard, and endless weeping,

 

If you would seek, my Memory, at least,

Within the depths of hell, to vanquish hell:

And from death: to free yourself with death.

 

 


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