ODE TO NIGHT
Night reigns; in silence deep around
Dreams whirl through empty space;
Clothing with her pure light the ground,
The moon shows bright her face:
Soft hour of peace; without a trace
Of Man, where rise these heights uphurl’d,
I sit abandon’d of the world.
How Nature’s quietude august
Delights the feeling mind,
That heeds her voice, and learns to trust
Its joys with her to find!
Sweet silence! here I rest reclined,
With but the river’s murmurings heard,
Or leaves by gentle breezes stirr’d.
Now its repose on languid wings,
Its freshness Night supplies;
To shaded heaven which faithful clings,
And blaze of daylight flies:
Unseen by that, mysterious lies
On mount and plain, to please though sad,
Still beauteous ev’n in horrors clad.
How is the ecstatic soul impress’d
With melancholy thought!
The lovely picture here possess’d
Sublime with sadness fraught!
How more its music to be sought,
And peace, than all that may entrance
The echoes of the noisy dance.
Around the proud saloon reflect
Each face the mirrors there;
With diamonds, pearls, and gold bedeck’d,
Light dance the gentle fair;
And with their witching grace and air,
O’er thousand lovers holding sway,
Their vows and plaudits bear away.
Lovely is that! I one day too,
When childhood scarce above,
Through balls and banquets would pursue
The object of my love.
And from the young beloved I strove,
As magic treasure, to obtain
A passing look, or smile to gain.
But now by cares subdued, and bound
By languor and disease,
Than gilded halls, these plains around
Me more the night hours please:
To the gay dance preferring these,
The calm asylum they supply,
To meditate beneath this sky.
O! ever shine on me the stars,
In a clear heaven as now!
And as my Maker that avers,
There let me turn my brow.
O! God of heaven, to Thee I bow!
And raise by night my humble strain,
The voice of my consuming pain.
Thee, also, friendly Moon! I hail;
I always loved thee dear:
Thou, Queen of heaven! me ne’er didst fail,
In fortunes fair or drear,
To guide, to counsel, and to cheer:
Thou know’st how oft, to enjoy thy ray,
I chide the blaze and heat of day.
Oft seated on the wide sea-shore,
Whose waves reflected thee,
To muse alone, thou smiling o’er,
I pass’d the night hours free;
And ’midst my clouded hopes to see
Thy face serene, I found relief,
In sweet complaint to pour my grief.
For throbs, alas! my breast with pain,
Consumption’s wounds to bear;
And pales my cheek, as thou must wane
Beneath the morning’s glare.
When I shall sink, grant this my prayer,
That thy light ne’er to shine defer,
On thy friend’s humble sepulchre.
But, hark! what dulcet notes arise
The neighbouring woods among?
Causing these tender thoughts and sighs
My lonely breast to throng.
Sweet Nightingale, it is thy song!
I always loved thy wood-notes wild,
Like me from sorrow ne’er beguiled.
Perish whoe’er for thy soft note
Seeks thee to oppress or take.
Why rather not like me remote,
Thee follow through the brake,
Where these thick woods our shelter make?
Fly free and happy round thy nest;
Enslaved I wish none, none oppress’d.
Night, ancient goddess! Chaos thee
Produced before the sun;
And the last sun ’tis thine to see
When the world’s course is run;
And the Lord wills his work undone!
Hear me, while this life’s breath is raised,
By me thou shalt be loved and praised.
Before time was, in Chaos vast
Thou laid perhaps mightst view
Thy coming beauties, as forecast
Thy destined glories grew:
Looking thy veil of shadows through
With face obscured, to meditate
Calm on thy future power and state.
Thou camest, O Queen! from Ocean’s bars
At the Creator’s voice,
With sceptre raised, and crown’d with stars,
And mantle glittering choice;
And bade the silent world rejoice,
To see through space thy brow severe
Shine with the kind moon’s silvery sphere.
How many high truths have I learn’d
Beneath thy solemn shade!
What inspirations in me burn’d
’Mid the wood’s silence laid!
In thee I saw sublime display’d
The Almighty’s power, and seized my lyre,
And fervid dared to Heaven aspire.
Great Goddess, hail! in thy calm breast
Let me soothe every care!
Thy peaceful balm may give me rest
From ills my heart that tear.
Sweet pitying friend! to whom repair
Poets and mourners for repose,
O, Night! in soft peace end my woes.
José María Heredia
Translation by James Kennedy
Nota del autor: Debo esta canción al dulcísimo Pindemonte.
James Kennedy. "Modern poets and poetry of Spain" (1860). Produced by Cornell University Library, 1992.