by: Alfonso X (1221-1284)

      HE strange intelligence then reached my ears
      That in the land of Egypt lived a man,
      Who, wise of wit, subjected to his scan
      The dark occurrences of uncome years;
      He judged the stars, and by the moving spheres
      And aspects of the heavens unveiled the dim
      Face of futurity, which then to him
      Appeared, as clear to us the past appears.
      A yearning towards this sage inspired my pen
      And tongue, that instant, with humility
      Descending from my height of majesty;
      Such mastery has a strong desire o'er men;
      My earnest prayers I wrote -- I sent -- with ten
      My noblest envoys, loaded each apart
      With gold and silver, which with all my heart
      I offered him, but the request was vain.
      With much politeness the wise man replied,
      "You, sire, are a great king, and I should be
      Most glad to serve you, but in such a fee
      Of gold and silver gems I take no sort of pride;
      Deign, then, yourself to use them; I abide
      Content in more abundant wealth; and may
      Your treasures profit you in every way
      That I can wish, your servant." I complied;
      But sent the stateliest of my argosies,
      Which reached, and from the Alexandrian port
      Brought safe this cunning master to my court,
      Who greeted me with all kind courtesies;
      I knowing well his great abilities,
      And learning in the movement of the spheres,
      Have highly honored him these many years,
      For honor is the birthright of the wise.

This English translation by J.H. Wiffen of "The Treasury" 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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