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That haughty tyranny of thine,
    That neck unbending, Love shall take,
    I vow, and victim of thee make
In harsh subjection to repine.
Live out thy vain and care-free days,
Love's bitter ways
Shall charge the measure of my score,
When of thy sorrow none shall more
Take any notice whoso pays.

When through the golden locks that crown
    Thy brows the scattered snows shall run,
    And thy twin daystars have begun
To dim their lights of old renown;
When the first wrinkle line shall sear
Thy visage clear,
And beauty's time is done and over,
And he is fugitive the lover
That found the rose so fresh and dear;

When thou shalt see thy cause is lost,
    And findst thy loving is but weeping,
    Thou then shalt know the woe unsleeping
In love that with no love is crossed;
Lady, then with grief shalt say,
That hapless day:
«Would I had now, alas, my fate!
That beauty that was mine of late,
Or that old love I cast away!»

The thousands whom your coldness spurned
    And left to sorrows, on that day
    Of vengeance shall be glad and gay
When they have thy discomfort learned;
And Love himself shall take the wing
And publishing
The novel tale of thy disgrace,
To all who mock shall show thy face
To warn them 'gainst the loveless thing.

Alas, by heaven, my lady fair,
    Behold thyself in flower so pure
    And gracious that cannot endure,
But left unplucked is lost fore'er;
And since no less discreet thou art
In equal part
Than fair and scornful to the view,
Look thou how everything is due
And subject to the loving heart!

'Tis Love that governs all the skies
    With law eternal and most sweet;
    Thinkst thyself strong enough to meet
Such foe in this poor world of lies?
'Tis Love gives movement and delight
And beauty's might,
It is the very sweet of life;
So that the fate with it at strife
Is saddened with a pauper's blight.

Of what avail the golden cup,
    The silken vesture and brocade,
    The ceiling with its gems inlaid,
The piles of treasures mounting up?
Of what avail the fertile breast
Of all earth's best,
And its adoring -- if in fine,
O lady, slumbering be thine
Alone where the cold couch is dressed?


Fray Luis de León
Translation by Thomas Walsh

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