TO SPAIN, AN ELEGY
How solitary is the nation now
That peopled countries vast a former day!
That all beneath her sovereignty to bow,
From East to West extended once her sway!
Tears now profuse to shed, unhappy one,
Queen of the world! ’tis thine; and from thy face,
Enchanting yet in sorrow, there is none
Its overwhelming traces to erase.
How fatally o’er thee has death pour’d forth
Darkness and mourning, horrible and great!
And the stern despot in his madden’d wrath
Exulted wildly o’er thy low estate.
Nothing or great or beautiful he spared,
My country! the young warrior by him fell,
The veteran fell, and vile his war-axe glared,
Pleased all its fury o’er thee to impel.
Ev’n the pure maiden fell beneath the rage
Of the unpitying despot, as the rose
Condemn’d the summer’s burning sun to engage
Her bloom and beauty withering soon must close.
Come, O! ye inhabiters of the earth,
And contemplate my misery! can there,
Tell me, be any found of mortal birth
Bearing the sorrows I am doom’d to bear?
I wretched, banish’d from my native land,
Behold, far from the country I adore,
Her former glories lost and high command,
And only left her sufferings to deplore.
Her children have been fatally betray’d
By treacherous brethren, and a tyrant’s power;
And these her lovely fertile plains have made
Fields o’er which lamentations only lower.
Her arms extended wide unhappy Spain,
Her sons imploring in her deep distress:
Her sons they were, but her command was vain,
Unheard the traitor madness to repress.
Whate’er could then avail thee, tower or wall,
My country! still amid thy woes adored?
Where were the heroes that could once appal
The fiercest foe? where thy unconquer’d sword?
Alas! now on thy children’s humbled brow
Deeply is shame engraved, and on their eyes,
Cast down and sorrowfully beating now,
The tears alone of grief and mourning rise.
Once was a time for Spain, when she possess’d
A hundred heroes in her hour of pride;
And trembling nations saw her manifest
Her power and beauty, dazzling by their side.
As lofty shows itself in Lebanon
The cedar, so her brow she raised on high;
And fell her voice the nations round upon,
As terrifies a girl the thunders nigh.
But as a stone now in the desert’s wild
Thou liest abandon’d, and an unknown way
Through strangers’ lands, uncertain where, exiled
The patriot’s doom’d unfortunate to stray.
Her ancient pomp and power are cover’d o’er
With sand and weeds contemptuous; and the foe,
That trembled at her puissance before,
Now mocks exulting and enjoys her woe.
Maidens! your flowing locks dishevell’d tear,
To give them to the wandering winds; and bring
Your harps in mournful company to share
With me the sorrowful laments I sing.
Thus banish’d from our homes afar away
Still let us weep our miseries. O! Spain,
Who shall have power thy torments to allay?
Who shall have power to dry thy tears again!
José de Espronceda
Translation by James Kennedy
James Kennedy. "Modern poets and poetry of Spain" (1860). Produced by Cornell University Library, 1992.