The Yellow Book/Volume 13/Sonnets from the Portuguese

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Sonnets

From the Portuguese
of Anthero de Quental

By Richard Garnett, C.B., LL.D.

 

i



WITH thistle's azure flower my home I hung,
And did with redolence of musk perfume,
And, robed in purple raiment's glowing gloom,
Low prelude to my coming carol sung.
Spikenard, from Orient groves transported, clung
To brow and hand; if so my humble room
Might undishonoured harbour her, for whom
Soon should its welcoming door be widely flung.
What princess, fairy, angel from above,
Some radiant sphere relinquishing for me,
Bowed to my habitation poor and cold?
Princess nor sprite nor fay, but memory
Of thee it was that came to knock where Love
Expecting sat behind a gate of gold.

The spirit waning to its hour extreme,
That faith and joy and peace may never know,
Away with it to death without a dream!
The last faint notes that falter in the flow
Of dying strains, and dying hope s last gleam,
Last breath, last love — O let them, let them go!

vi


Where at the precipice's foot the wave
Ceaseless with sullen monotone doth roar,
And the wild wind flies plaining to the shore,
Be my dead heart committed to the grave.
There let the suns with fiery torrents lave
The parching dust, till summer shines no more,
And eddies of dry sand incessant soar
Around, when whirlblasts of the winter rave.
And with its own undoing be undone,
And with its viewless motes enforced to flit,
Rapt far away upon the hurricane,
All sighs and strifes that idly cumbered it,
And idlest Love, sunk to oblivion
In bosom of the barren bitter main.

vii


This sable steed, whose hoofs with clangour smite
My sense, while dreamful shade on earth is cast,
Onward in furious gallop thundering past
In the fantastic alleys of the night,

Whence cometh he? What realms of gloom or light
Behind him lie? Through what weird terrors last
Thus clothed in stormy grandeur sped so fast,
Dishevelling his mane with wild affright?
A youth with mien of martial prowess, blent
With majesty no shock disquieteth,
Vested in steely armour sheening clear,
Fearless bestrides the terrible portent.
"I," the tremendous steed declares, "am Death!"
"And I am Love!" responds the cavalier.