by: Cristóbal de Castillejo (1491-1556)

OW dreary and how lone
The world would appear
If women were none!
'Twould be like a fair,
With neither fun nor business there.
Without their smile
Life would be tasteless, vain, and vile;
A chaos of perplexity,
A body without soul 'twould be;
A roving spirit borne
Upon the winds forlorn;
A tree without or flowers or fruit,
A reason with no resting place,
A castle with no governor to it,
A house without a base.
What are we? What our race?
How good for nothing and base
Without fair woman to aid us
What could we do? Where should we go?
How should we wander in night and woe,
But for woman to lead us?
How could we love if woman were not?
Love--the brightest part of our lot;
Love--the only charm of living;
Love--the only gift worth giving?
Who would take charge of your house, say who?
Kitchen, and dairy, and money-chest?
Who but the women, who guard them best;
Guard and adorn them too?
Who like them has a constant smile,
Full of peace, as meekness full,
When life's edge is blunt and dull,
And sorrow, and sin, in frowning file,
Stand by the path in which we go
Down to the grave through wasting woe?
All that is good is theirs, is theirs
All we give and all we get;
And if a beam of glory yet
Over the gloomy earth appears,
O, 'tis theirs! O, 'tis theirs,--
They are the guard, -- the soul, -- the seal
Of human hope and human weal;
They, -- they, -- none but they!
Woman, -- sweet woman, -- let none say nay!

--Translated by John Bowring

"Women" is reprinted from Hispanic Anthology: Poems Translated from the Spanish by English and North American Poets. Ed. Thomas Walsh. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1920.




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