El cisne, by Elisa Monge

By Elisa Monge, 18XX – 1932, Guatemala. English translation by Liz Henry.

El cisne

Era la noche de un hermoso día,
el céfiro nocturno suavemente
movia con su suplo la corriente
que tenue resbalábase a mis pies.

Yo seguí el curso de las blancas aguas,
que en sueltos rizos de nevada espuma,
pasar veía con presteza suma
cual si corrieran uno de otro en pos.

Y luego, poco a poco deslizarse
en la azulada y poética laguna
que brillaba a los rayos de la luna,
como espejo de lúcido esplendor.

La casta Diana desde su alto trono
sonriendo, se veia retratada
en la azul superficie iluminada
por los destellos de su limpia faz.

Y las estrellas con creciente anhelo
en torno de su reina colocadas,
también queriendo verse retratadas,
brillaban reflejando su fulgor.

Las blancas azucenas y los lirios
con su perfume el aire embalsamaba;
y al lago sus corolas inclinaban
refrescando su frente virginal.

En medio de las aguas se mecía
un bello cisne de nevada pluma,
que hundía su cabeza entre la espuma
y con placer volvíala a sacar.

Y luego, con orgullo caminando,
su alabastrino cuello enderezba,
y al compás de las auras entonaba
melancólia y tímida canción.

Ya con garbo salta a las orillas
levantando su frente, majestuoso;
ya su blanco ropaje, presurosos
tendía blandamente en el cristal.

Y ya después, tal vez como cansado,
inclinaba su cuello con dulzura,
y el genio de los sueños, con ternura
lo arrullaba en sus brazos con amor.

¡Cuánto gozaba yo en este paraje,
admirando del cisne la hermosura!
Por eso cada noche con premura
dirigíame allí con ilusión.

Llegó una vez, que con placer buscando
del cisne la elegancia y la belleza,
vi con dolor y sin igual tristeza,
que el ave blanca no se hallaba allí.

No le veía en el tranquilo lago
mecer con gallardía su figura,
tampoco le veía con soltura,
a las orillas rápido saltar.

Al pie de un sauces de frecura lleno
yacia el cisne triste, desmayado,
su plumaje de nieve ensangrentado,
herido por el fiero cazador.

Ya no era el bello y majestuoso cisne
que orgulloso pasaba en la laguna,
ya no los rayos de la blanca luna,
iluminaban su garboso andar.

Era el ave que sola y sin aliento
lanzaba de su pecho dolorido,
último canto que cual un gemido
de su cuello inclinado se escapó.

Era el ave que casi agonizante
olvidando un instante su amargura,
entonó tierno canto con dulzura
y a mis pies tristemente falleció.

Entonces de la luna limpio rayo
iluminó radioso su alba frente,
y los lirios y el sauce suavemente
cubrieron su plumaje con amor.

Y yo, al verlo a mis pies cadáver yerto,
comprendí que del rostro la hermosura
pronto acaba, y que debe la criatura,
la belleza del almsa procurar.

Porque el cuerpo se mucre y se sepulta,
y el alma que se adorna con anhelo,
cándida y pura se remonta al cielo
a gozar de la vista de su Dios.

The Swan

It was the evening of a beautiful day,
the noctural zephyr gently
moved with a sigh the rippling waters
that lapped shallow at my feet.

I followed the course of the limpid waters
with its smooth waves of snowy foam,
to pass my gaze with rapid summation
on how it ran from one thing to another.

And then, little by little, it slipped
into the azured and poetic lake
that shone in the rays of the moon
like a mirror of splendid clarity.

Chaste Diana, from her lofty throne
smiling, was seen pictured
in the blue surface that was lit
by the sparkle of her pure face.

And the stars with growing desire
gathered around their queen,
they, too, longed to see her portrait painted;
they shone reflecting her brilliant flame.

The white spikenard and the lilies
with their perfume embalsamed the air;
and inclined their petals to the lake,
refreshing their virginal brows.

In the middle of the waters swayed
a handsome swan of snowy plumage,
that sank his head into the foam
and with pleasure dipped it out again.

And later, walking with pride,
he straightened out his alabaster neck,
and trumpeted to the accompaniment of the winds
his shy melancholy song.

Now with elegance he leaps to the shore
raising his head, quite majestic,
now his white feathers rapidly
extended smoothly into crystal.

And then, later, almost as if exhausted,
he bent his neck sweetly
and the tender spirit of dreams
lulled him to loving sleep in his arms.

How I enjoyed this place,
admiring the swan’s gorgeous beauty!
Because of this, each night, as soon as I could,
I took myself there in imagination.

Another time I went, searching joyously
for the swan’s elegance and beauty;
I beheld with pain and equal sorrow
that the white bird was nowhere to be found.

I didn’t see him in the tranquil lake
swaying his figure with elegant charm,
nor did I see his agile grace
nimbly skipping over the shore.

At the foot of the fresh, full willows,
laid the sad swan, undone,
his snowy plumage bloodied,
wounded by the fierce hunter.

Nevermore would the handsome majestic swan
so proudly pass over the lake,
nevermore would the rays of the silver moon
illuminate his graceful gliding.

It was that bird, who alone and breathless,
pierced through his wounded breast,
let escape a final cry
from his bent neck, like a lament.

It was that bird, who almost dying,
forgetting for an instant his bitter plight,
he trumpted with sweetness a tender song
and at my feet sorrowfully expired.

Then a shining ray of the moon
radiantly lit up his white brow,
and the lilies and the willow softly
showered his plumage with love.

And I, on seeing the corpse laid at my feet,
I understood that beauty would soon pass
from his face, and that all creatures
should search for beauty of soul.

Because the body dies and is buried,
and the soul imbued with longing
honest and pure mounts to heaven
to enjoy the sight of its God.

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