SHADOW OF APRIL
My body alive and I barely know it;
I can hardly perceive its form
and only when it passes through my dreams
do I feel from its sadness that in it I live.
I do not know its name, nor have I ever
known its name, nor do I want to know it.
Its name has to form itself in its memory:
the memory of me, that is not mine.
But I am born, already old it seems,
after so many hard gales, and, in it,
my tender nature is sharpened
for war now, at the edge of death,
just as before, my cowardly hope
was honed at birth together with my life.
O persistent form that in this way you ensnare
my thoughts in the spinning of the hours!
Where have you carried my eternal struggle
that you always find me disconsolate?
Yet the shadow of April approaches me,
like in other times, when a boy, I saw
its ardor encroach upon my nerves
to awaken its anguish in my blood.
Still its threat upsets my senses,
as yesterday it upset my sad childhood
among ghosts, dreams and resentments
in my first unprotected years . . .
Likewise it shows me its auroras
and wears away my hope for the same.
April, in war and peace, you always find me
unrecognized in the middle of combat,
near the leaves of my death, trembling,
naked, keeping your eternal flower:
like a tree, within my eternal grove;
like delicate grass, among my companions,
but equal to the essence of my fortune.
Always, on arrival, you see that my body
keeps the romantic form of its absence,
that excessive zeal names oblivion.
Me, always in my sadness, not recognizing me.
O, restless springtime, you conceal me,
sated by your ambition, from my own body!
April, April: what eternal adolescence
my continual rebirth though your branches!
Translation by Donald Wellman