The Virgin of the Crystal
You young girls of Vilanova,
You have good reason to talk;
For there is no Virgin in the world
Like the Virgin of the Crystal.
Burning souls born to cry
A science that God didn’t want to give you;
Gentle pretty moths, spread out
Around a light that will burn you;
Souls full of doubt; naked hope;
Eternally stupid due to eternal ignorance;
Worms wrapped up in the burning pile
Of dead men’s bones which you call Progress:
For a short while stop this tiresome
Reel which has you going around endlessly.
Don’t give up to the treacherous wind
The stuttering voice of a pilgrim.
The splendid rising sun casts its shadow from
Behind the stripped trunk of an enormous pine,
The living memory of a past age
Buried in the dust of time.
The voice that reaches you
Is a voice of peace. I am for you a bird
With slow chirp and snowy wings,
Who only knows how to nest in bell-towers.
From them he catches light,
from them he drinks
The waves of incense that rise up from the nave,
And when the tower falls to dust,
Its little wings collapse and it falls to its death cheeping.
When you have heard this voice,
Like the echo of a fantastic viola,
This shade will already have disappeared,
Maybe only ashes will remain of the trunk:
Then, after the last complaint,
This silly bird will be just a corpse.
Souls! Return to your work, fly,
Search out the end of blind humanity!
I cannot follow you! If so much I love
Progress and light, why then must I carry
Engraved on my forehead the disenchantment
Of this sweet deception I feel in my chest?
Why, when I raise my prophetic
Eyes to the future, sadly,
Does a mute remorse wound me,
And why do I remember past times?
A fearsome complaint is carried by the wind
All around cities and towns,
And then whistles with that same feeling
As when it hits the waves on the beach.
That sad complaint, that lament,
Comes from some voice suffering deep pain…
It is the past that is dying! Give me my lyre
And if I sing for that dead one… forgive me.
Yes, I sing for you of life in the past;
Let others sing of life in the future:
I know of a forgotten treasure,
And plough the earth to bring it to light.
If times are all the same, and the present
Goes hand-in-hand with the past, surely
As much in the towns as in the villages,
My song could prove useful to many.
This is the first part of this narrative poem that tells the story of two lovers whose paths are torn violently apart by jealousy, envy and suspicion. It is a classic of nineteenth-century Spanish poetry and is well worth taking our time over, so I am going to divide it up into the ten sections it comes in and post them separately.
I’ll comment on the poem when I have posted the whole thing.