LINES TO MACIAS EL ENAMORADO
(from the "Laberinto")
by: Juan de Mena (1411-1456)
- E in this
radiant circle looked so long
- That we found out Macías; in a bower
- Of cypress was he weeping still the hour
- That ended his dark life and love in wrong.
- Nearer I drew for sympathy was strong
- In me, when I perceived he was from Spain;
- And there I heard him sing the saddest strain
- That e'er was tuned in elegiac song.
- "Love crowned me with his myrtle crown; my name
- Will be pronounced by many, but, alas,
- When his pangs caused me bliss, not slighter woe
- The mournful suffering that consumed my frame!
- His sweet snares conquer the lorn mind they tame,
- But do not always then continue sweet;
- And since they cause me ruin so complete,
- Turn, lovers, turn, and disesteem his fame;
- Dangers so passionate be glad to miss;
- Learn to be gay; flee from sorrows touch;
- Learn to disserve him you have served so much,
- Your devoirs pay at any shrine but his:
- If the short joy that in his service is,
- Were but proportioned to the long, long pain,
- Neither would he that once has loved complain,
- Nor he that ne'er has loved despair of bliss.
- But even as some assassin or night-rover,
- Seeing his fellow wound upon the wheel,
- Awed by the agony resolves with zeal
- His life to 'mend, and character recover;
- But when the fearful spectacle is over,
- Reacts his crimes with easy unconcern;
- So my amours on my despair return,
- That I should die, as I have lived, a lover!"
--Translated by J.H. Wiffen
POEMS BY JUAN DE MENA
"Lines to Macías El
Enamorado" 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.