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                XXIII
    CASTLE WITHOUT STRENGTH

Has the soul already been closed to you?
In what stone or skin do you dress?
What inflexible habit squeezes
the youthfulness that controls you?
You are only a display
of ugliness.
                    What oppresses you
in this way, a love
that is not free, even in your dreams?
How hard is the enclosure that masks
the beautiful name that you inhabit!
With what spoon have you dug
the trench that burns your feet?

You are not a tower for defense,
nor a fortified fear,
nor a delayed combat,
nor a tree in the desert...

You are only a display
of ugliness.
                    In what lap
of solitude, do you draw out
your disheveled dream?
In none?...
                    (There is no repose
if the heart fails to bleed).

In the land of Nothing
you are the firmest reed.
And you raise up, a useless ember,
without knowing that a wandering
flame already follows you
under the sky where you lift yourself.

An ember that the body raises
is always a stone, that from the fire
comes, to be made into a flame.

You do not know it—ember,
brick, skin, dream, plaster—
prison of your heart.

And now you approach the flame
and already it pounds against your tower
and already it scratches your body.

Like ivy, it climbs on you
and already it burns your face...
Your skin, your name, the silence,
all proclaim you to be the bonfire.
And your trench is now a ring of
light that declaims your love.
Ay stubborn and mute castle,
how soft are your walls!

Fire comes to you and leaves you:
a thousand tongues attack your body!
Crackle, crackle, crackle, may it crackle
all that burns for love!
You burn.
                    Crackle, crackle, may it crackle
the fire that lifts you up,
fountain of baptism,
tree of light that saves you.
And, now, do you know how to defend yourself?
Has the soul already been closed to you?
Are you only a display
of ugliness?...
                    —Bright fountain!

autógrafo

Emilio Prados
Translation by Donald Wellman


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