The Serenade


If slumber, sweet Lisena!
Have stolen o'er thine eyes,
As night steals o'er the glory
Of spring's transparent skies;

Wake, in thy scorn and beauty,
And listen to the strain
That murmurs my devotion,
That mourns for thy disdain.

Here by thy door at midnight,
I pass the dreary hour,
With plaintive sounds profaning
The silence of thy bower;

A tale of sorrow cherished
Too fondly to depart,
Of wrong from love the flatterer,
And my own wayward heart.

Twice, o'er this vale, the seasons
Have brought and borne away
The January tempest,
The genial wind of May;

Yet still my plaint is uttered,
My tears and sighs are given
To earth's unconscious waters,
And wandering winds of heaven.

I saw from this fair region,
The smile of summer pass,
And myriad frost-stars glitter
Among the russet grass.

While winter seized the streamlets
That fled along the ground,
And fast in chains of crystal
The truant murmurers bound.

I saw that to the forest
The nightingales had flown,
And every sweet-voiced fountain
Had hushed its silver tone.

The maniac winds, divorcing
The turtle from his mate,
Raved through the leafy beeches,
And left them desolate.

Now May, with life and music,
The blooming valley fills,
And rears her flowery arches
For all the little rills.

The minstrel bird of evening
Comes back on joyous wings,
And, like the harp's soft murmur,
Is heard the gush of springs.

And deep within the forest
Are wedded turtles seen,
Their nuptial chambers seeking,
Their chambers close and green.

The rugged trees are mingling
Their flowery sprays in love;
The ivy climbs the laurel,
To clasp the boughs above.

They change -- but thou, Lisena,
Art cold while I complain:
Why to thy lover only
Should spring return in vain?

Translated from the Spanish by William Cullen Bryant.

Home :: Poetry :: Sorrow and Sadness (8) :: The Serenade