by: Rubén Darío (1867-1916)

      HE princess mourns -- Why is the Princess sighing?
      Why from her lips are song and laughter dying?
      Why does she droop upon her chair of gold?
      Hushed is the music of her royal bower;
      Beside her in a vase; a single flower
      Swoons and forgets its petals to unfold.
      The fool in scarlet pirouettes and flatters,
      Within the hall the silly dueña chatters;
      Without, the peacock's regal plumage gleams.
      The Princess heeds them not; her thoughts are veering
      Out through the gates of Dawn, past sight and hearing,
      Where she pursues the phantoms of her dreams.
      Is it a dream of China that allures her,
      Or far Galconda's ruler who conjures her
      But to unveil the laughter of her eyes?--
      He of the island realms of fragrant roses,
      Whose treasure flashing diamond hoards discloses,
      And pearls of Ormuz, rich beyond surmise?
      Alas! The Princess longs to be a swallow,
      To be a butterfly, to soar, to follow
      The ray of light that climbs into the sun;
      To greet the lilies, lost in Springtime wonder,
      To ride upon the wind, to hear the thunder
      Of ocean waves where monstrous billows run.
      Her silver distaff fallen in disfavor,
      Her magic globe shorn of its magic savor,
      The swans that drift like snow across the lake,
      The lotus in the garden pool -- are mourning;
      The dahlias and the jasmin flowers adorning
      The palace gardens, sorrow for her sake.
      Poor little captive of the blue-eyed glances!
      A hundred negroes with a hundred lances,
      A hound, a sleepless dragon, guard her gates.
      There in the marble of her palace prison
      The little Princess of the roving vision,
      Caught in her gold and gauzes, dreams and waits.
      "Oh" (sighs the Princess), "Oh, to leave behind me
      My marble cage, the golden chains that bind me,
      The empty chrysalis the moth forsakes!
      To fly to where a fairy Prince is dwelling--
      O radiant vision past all mortal telling,
      Brighter than April, or the day that breaks!"
      "Hush, little Princess," whispers the good fairy,
      "With sword and goshawk; on his charger airy,
      The Prince draws near -- the lover without blame.
      Upon his wingéd steed the Prince is fleeting,
      The conqueror of Death, to bring you greeting,
      And with his kiss to touch your lips to flame!"

--Translated by John Pierrepont Rice

"Sonatina" 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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