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The swan composed of snow floats in shadow,
amber beak translucent in the last light.
The white and innocent wings in the glow
of the short-lived dusk are rose-tipped and bright.

And then, on ripples of the clear blue lake,
when the crimson dawn is over and done,
the swan spreads his wings and lets his neck make
an arch, silver and burnished by the sun.

Grand, as he ruffles his silken feathers,
this bird from Olympus bearing love’s wound,
ravishing Leda in roiling waters,
thrusting at petals of her sex in bloom...

When at last her sobbing is heard no more,
the stripped, mastered beauty lets out a sigh.
From some tangled green rushes by the shore,
sparkle-eyed Pan watches and wonders why.


Rubén Darío, 1892
Translators: Steven F.White & Greg Simon

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